The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

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.

The Earth has been ravaged by what history calls, the Seven Stages of War. Countries decimated one another through nuclear weapon attacks, leaving the planet barren, an unlivable wasteland, during the first four stages. The remaining stages... Is where the world fought back.
Cia has officially become an adult, the newest member of the Five Lakes Colony to graduate, the youngest in her class. The nine hundred citizen, once desolate colony, is now a thriving community. Where graduates can be accepted into The Testing, a process which determines who, if any, are suitable for further study. It is seen as a privilege to be chosen, and Cia wants to follow in her father's footsteps and be the first graduate in ten years to attend university. Every year the United Commonwealth selects a group of graduates to be tested, to ultimately work towards regeneration of the baron earth and quality of life, to become the future scientists, doctors, teachers and officials... And Cia has been chosen.

With her father's warning to trust no one clear in her mind, Cia makes the journey to the capital with four other graduates from Five Lakes, along with government escort Michal. Joining over a hundred other graduates, Cia realises the Testing begun as soon as she was accepted into the prestigious group of hopefuls. They are being watched. The Testing comprises of several levels, and only the best and brightest will move onto the next round. But it isn't a fair fight, other graduates aren't above sabotage, taking other competitors out of the running and often by deadly means. When Cia's roommate is found dead, she realises that with cameras tracking the students, the officials did nothing but watch her die. Her father warned her, but Cia confines in the handsome and charismatic Tomas, one of her fellow Five Lakes graduates. She needs Tomas's strength for what is still to come, survival throughout the war ravaged lands, fellow graduates that are on the hunt, rigged explosions and avoid mutated animals, making their way back to the civilisation of Tosu City. It's kill or be killed.

But there is more to The Testing than Cia realises, the betrayal, the officials watching and listening and the strange human creatures living throughout the land. But when Cia receives aide from beyond The Testing boundaries, kind hearted Cia knows that it's every man, or every seventeen year old girl, for themselves.

The Testing is The Hunger Games, retold. Not an exact carbon copy, but a similar storyline, characters and fight to the death. It was well written, and I'm a fan of anything dystopian really, so I enjoyed it. It's basically a barren world with pockets of forced communities. After teens  graduate, they have the opportunity to further their education, but only those selected for The Testing and pass, will be able to attend. If you're chosen to be tested, there isn't any choice and you must attend. Failure to do so, results in being charged with treason and given the death penalty. Obey, and you need to fight for your life in a viscous game they disguise as a test of intelligence, wits and bravery.

The romance was terrible. I would have rated The Testing an extra star, if not for the forced relationship between Cia and Tomas. Michal, the official simply disappeared, but I wonder if he'll become of some importance in the second in the series.

Overall, if you loved The Hunger Games, you'll probably enjoy this. You'll at least be entertained. I'll definitely be continuing with the series.

The Testing
(The Testing: Book One)
Written By Joelle Charbonneau
Published 04 / 06 / 2013
352 Pages

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