The Testing

The testing

The testing by Joelle Charbonneau

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 honoured 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 gruelling (and deadly) day of the Testing. To survive, Cia must choose: love without truth or life without trust

I read this book over 24 hours; I just could not and did not want to put it down. It is worth reading the free short prelude to this book called the Testing Guide first, as it helps set the story, it also introduces Cia and her family, including her brother Zeen who wanted desperately to be chosen for the Testing and never got a place.
This is the story of sixteen-year-old Malencia Vale, known as Cia. About her coming to adulthood and getting chosen for the Testing, an opportunity for the chosen few to get a place at University, an opportunity to learn and to be a part of the rebuilding of her world, a world destroyed by the seven wars.
Cia along with three others from her hometown of Five Lakes Colony, are chosen to enter the Testing, she is pleased, it is her greatest wish to enter the Testing. Her father is not happy, and talks with her about his experiences of the Testing that he can remember, and of the recurring dreams, suggesting not everything is as it seems. No one remembers their testing, but it appears that whatever they do does not seem to work well as there are flashbacks, remembered, or apparently remembered memories of the Testing, and her father warns her to trust no one, but to rely on her own strengths to get through.
Tomas is also from her Colony and is one of the chosen. I had trouble with how this relationship developed, and I feel it could have been done better, especially at the beginning. I do feel the story line between them developed really well though as the book progressed, and the ending which I will not disclose here, left it open in a way that you really need to read the next book in the series now, just to see how it works and find out more, especially about Tomas.
The whole concept of the Testing and the four stages, where candidates are slowly eliminated, and in some cases die in front of the other candidates in their groups, in some quite chilling ways is cold and calculating. It creates tension in the story and leaves you unsure who is to be trusted. Characters you begin to know, who you feel are going to be part of the long term story are killed off, leaving you with a sense of not knowing who will survive to the end.
I enjoyed Cia’s character because she is strong, down to earth and has an inner strength that helps her to survive. Then we have Tomas, who seems so open and helpful, who says he loves Cia, what is he hiding, something is not right in his character and I cannot wait to find out more.
Michal is an interesting character that I feel we will learn more about in the next book.
I can see the connection to the Hunger Games, no doubt that this was the seed of the idea, I felt the written Testing was to try and make this story different, because once they got outside the whole idea was so similar, including the elimination of other contestants to give them more chance of winning, made it really quite similar in concept. However this dystopian world is one I would defiantly visit again, it is well written, and there is so many unanswered questions that I want to know the answer too.
I can only conclude with I loved this book, and am looking forward to reading the second one, to see how it will be taken forward and developed.