Google+ Reading Teen: [Quick-fire Review] The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

Friday, June 14, 2013

[Quick-fire Review] The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

The Testing
The Testing #1
by Joelle Charbonneau
Age Range: 12 and up
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children (June 4, 2013)
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It’s graduation day for sixteen-year-old Malencia Vale, and the entire Five Lakes Colony (the former Great Lakes) is celebrating. All Cia can think about—hope for—is whether she’ll be chosen for The Testing, a United Commonwealth program that selects the best and brightest new graduates to become possible leaders of the slowly revitalizing post-war civilization. When Cia is chosen, her father finally tells her about his own nightmarish half-memories of The Testing. Armed with his dire warnings (”Cia, trust no one”), she bravely heads off to Tosu City, far away from friends and family, perhaps forever. Danger, romance—and sheer terror—await.

At a Glance:

The Testing was a likeable Hunger Games type book.  In the sea of dystopians available, it did not stand out, and was not original enough to be a favorite, but it was enjoyable enough to finish.  I think it might be a good pick for younger teens.


Well, it's obvious that the cover designers were trying to appeal to fans of The Hunger Games.  It's immediately what you think about when you see it.  The font is also very Hunger Games-ish.  I have to say, it made me roll my eyes a little.  I do like the cover, though. 


There was a lot of action, fighting, death and blood.  Though this wasn't as graphic and gruesome as The Hunger Games, it was similar in that often kids were killing other kids.  Adults had their fair share of violence as well, though.  The test administered often ended in a teen being poisoned, or impaled in horrible ways. 


The romance was mediocre for me.  There was no build or tension, it was just kind of like, "Hey, I think I might love that guy.  Ok, we love each other."  It was cute, but didn't stir anything in me.  It was also very Katniss/Peeta (tough girl, back-home boy, thrown into a deadly scenario together), which I didn't really like.


Cia was a great herione.  I liked her a lot.  She was smart, tough, loyal, and stuck by her beliefs.  There were times that she was a little too trusting, but who can fault her for that.  She's the reason I liked the story enough to keep reading, even with all my other issues with the book.


Tomas may have been the smartest one there, though some of the things he may or may not have done were a little sketchy.  He was a nice guy, but there wasn't anything that really made me fall for him as a "hero" or a love interest.  Though he did have just enough mystery surrounding him to make me interested in finding out more. 

Favorite Supporting Character:

I can't really think of anyone that stood out.

Something I loved:

There were things I liked about this book, but I don't think there was anything I loved.  I liked Cia and Thomas.  I liked the mystery of The Testing.  I liked the setting and the travel from Chicago through St. Louis (because that's where I'm from). 

Something(s) I hated:

Honestly, I really wanted to like this book, but I had so many problems with it.  As you can see from all the above paragraphs, this book really reminded me of The Hunger Games.  A lot.  I've read a crap-ton of dystopians, and many of them have a Hunger Games feel, but this one seemed like it took The Hunger Games outline and just plugged in new people and different obstacles.  It was just too close, and not as well written.  Also, I just didn't get it.  It just didn't make sense.  Why would a government, who is trying to prepare and better it's people, take the smartest/strongest/most creative prodigies and kill half of them off for failing?  They're still better than all the people who didn't even get chosen for The Testing, right?  If you're going to kill innocent children, why not kill off the ones who didn't even make it?  And on that note, how did no one notice that their children didn't return?  Ever?  And they're ok with that?  At least with The Hunger Games, the government was trying to punish the people by doing this to the children.  Maybe I'm missing something, but if I am, how many others are missing it too? 


Yeah, there's a pretty big cliffhanger, though the next book comes out very soon, so there's not a long wait.

Would I recommend it?

I think I would recommend it to younger teens, or those who may not be bothered by The Hunger Games similarities or the other things I mentioned. 

Will I buy/keep it?

I don't think I'll be keeping my copy, and I'm not sure if I'll continue with the series.  I'll wait to hear if people really like it.

Book Doppelgangers:

Obviously.....The Hunger Games, Divergent by Veronica Roth, Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

  • Profanity: Mild
  • Sexual Content: Mild
  • Violence: Heavy
For more details, check out The Testing on


  1. I was having a hard time getting into this so I put it aside for now. I do want to get back to it though. Great review!

    1. Amy, it was really hard for me to get into also. I put it down multiple times. I kept thinking I would start liking it more, but it just never did really click for me. :(

  2. And they thought recommending it to fans of the Hunger Games would be a good thing... Lol.

  3. I've seen this book around. It seems like it would be Hunger Games copy. Although I do believe the film rights for it were picked up.

    1. I feel like film rights have been picked up for every YA book that's been written lately. I guess we'll see if anything comes of it. I could see this one being a good tv series.

  4. Thanks for the review. I am not a fan of books similar to HG (You aren't going to get any better than Hunger Games, so why try?), so I might pass on reading this.

  5. I'm sorry you didn't get into this one. I definitely saw the parallels to HG, though I don't think I really minded all that much. I really enjoyed Cia as well, she was certainly a strong part in this one.


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