Review: The Testing

The Testing


THE TESTING by Joelle Charbonneau was released in the U.S. on June 4, 2013 in hardcover, audio and eBook formats. It is currently available to order online in all formats at AMAZON and in hardcover and eBook formats at BARNES & NOBLE.

Published by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, the print edition is 352 pages.

THE TESTING is the first book in a new series by author Joelle Charbonneau of the same name. The second book in the series, INDEPENDENT STUDY, is slated for release on January 7, 2014 and a short prequel story, THE TESTING GUIDE, was released on May 1, 2013.



Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Isn’t that what they say? But how close is too close when they may be one in the same?

The Seven Stages War left much of the planet a charred wasteland. The future belongs to the next generation’s chosen few who must rebuild it. But to enter this elite group, candidates must first pass The Testing—their one chance at a college education and a rewarding career.

Cia Vale is honored to be chosen as a Testing candidate; eager to prove her worthiness as a University student and future leader of the United Commonwealth. But on the eve of her departure, her father’s advice hints at a darker side to her upcoming studies–trust no one.

But surely she can trust Tomas, her handsome childhood friend who offers an alliance? Tomas, who seems to care more about her with the passing of every grueling (and deadly) day of the Testing. To survive, Cia must choose: love without truth or life without trust.


Joelle Charbonneau’s THE TESTING is an imaginative, clever and edge-of-your-seat exciting first book in a new series set in a dystopian future where the best and the brightest of its youth are tested for their potential to lead. It is a story that takes a well-worn idea and makes it feel new and one that brings nail-biting suspense to the page.

Filled with deadly challenges that not everyone is meant to survive, characters whose motivations can’t be trusted and surprise after surprise that will keep the pages turning, this book is a fantastic addition to the genre.

When graduation day comes and goes and Cia Vale is not chosen as a candidate for the Testing, when no one from Five Lakes is, she’s not sure what to do with the rest of her life. All her efforts, all her studying, was pointless if she wouldn’t at least get a chance to attend the University and continue her education.

So when the Tosu City official arrives the next day and tells her that she and three of her classmates have been chosen, she is ecstatic. Even if her happiness is bittersweet because it means she might never get to see her family again.

But when her father reveals that there might be something more to the Testing, something sinister, and that no one should be trusted, her happiness quickly turns to unease. And if there are at most twenty candidates that will pass the tests and move on to University, then she will need to stay sharp, think smart, heed her father’s advice to trust no one and hope that it will be enough.

Because if the Testing is more than what it seems, then she doesn’t want to find out what will happen to those that fail.

Author Joelle Charbonneau created a fascinating and chilling world where every move is watched, every action monitored and every decision must be questioned. She introduced a broad array of characters who keep the story interesting and who will keep readers guessing as to their trustworthiness. She takes readers on a thrilling adventure with her characters through a hostile landscape both inside the Testing facility and in the world outside its doors.

And she leaves them with a shocking conclusion that will make them anxious for the next installment in the series.

THE TESTING is an absolutely riveting read. With a series of tests that make this story nerve-wracking for both readers and characters alike, a strong, intelligent, kind and caring heroine who readers will want to see succeed, and the promise of secrets that will be uncovered in a future book in the series, this first installment is a must.

Reviewer gives this book…


On a personal note…

Oh. My. Gosh. I love, love, loved THE TESTING. I so did not expect to love it. Even though everyone I knew who read it loved it, I totally thought I wouldn’t be one of those readers.

I thought that I would like this book. The description was intriguing. But I’ve read so many stories that involved characters being put through some kind of test, characters whose lives would depend on them beating the other characters. And I was so sure that this story would come up short.

But it did not. At all. This story grabbed me. Immediately. I connected instantly with Cia. I loved the world the author created. I couldn’t wait to see what the tests were. And I couldn’t wait to see who passed those tests.

It never ceases to amaze me how stories based upon similar concepts or built with familiar frameworks can be so very different from one another. Where some stories give a feeling of deja vu, others feel unique. Where some feel tired, others are fresh and exciting. And where some don’t even approach the bar set by those that came before it, others meet it or surpass it. THE TESTING is part of the latter group.

Not for one second was I bored. Not for a moment did I feel like I was reading something that had already been done a thousand times before. The author transported me into her world with her story and characters and it felt completely new.

From the moment I picked this book up I did not want to put it down. I could not wait to find out what happened, if Cia made the cut, if Tomas did. I couldn’t wait to learn who could be trusted and who couldn’t.

I would never have imagined that a story with such a generic title and with a cover that would not have caught my eye on the shelf could be so entertaining. I could not have imagined how much it killed me to reach the story’s end and not have the next book in the series to read.

Of course that ending ensured that I would be left in a state of sheer torment. And that peek into the sequel did not help. At all.

This story was a super fast and easy read. It kept me engaged from word one. And while I did have a question that pestered me for a large portion of the book about the purpose of the testing, an answer was given not one page after I was so sure it would never be answered.

I’m still so curious about how those in power chose the winners, whether they were just a tiny bit sadistic or if there was real legitimacy to their decisions. But as there was a foundation laid for this in this first book in the series, I have a feeling there will be more about it in the next book, INDEPENDENT STUDY.

I love that the main character, Cia, was clever. I love that she took the time to think about her actions. I love that she didn’t just blindly rely upon Tomas. And I love that she managed to prove herself worthy even though she had a huge advantage over the other competitors due to the information she received from her father.

I have placed a huge question mark over one of the characters in this story – no I will not say who. But I am hoping that I’ll have an answer about them one way or another in the next book. And I was wary about every single one of them except for Cia and Michal. Though I have a few questions about him, too.

To say I’m dying to read the next book in this series would be a huge understatement. THE TESTING was all sorts of awesome and I just know the next book will be too. I was more than surprised by this book. I was delighted, enchanted, riveted. And I am madly in love with it.

Favorite passage…

I really wanted to include one of the more romantic passages or one that involved one of the tests. But as both would be quite spoiler-y, I thought I’d include this one which reveals a little bit about Michal and a bit more about the testing process.

“Here.” Michal hands me the bag marked with my symbol. “Make sure you don’t let it out of your sight.” He says this in a low, quiet voice. His gaze locks with mine. There is no smile or amusement in his eyes. He is serious. I am to keep my few possessions with me no matter what.

Book Trailer…

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