FicCentral received a free copy of this book from Houghton Mifflin Books for Children (via Netgalley).
Series: The Testing Series #1
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children on June 4, 2013
Genre(s): Dystopian (YA)
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.
This book includes mature subject matter that may not be appropriate for readers under the age of 18.
Malencia “Cia” Vale (these YA book names just keep getting weirder) is sixteen, the youngest person in her graduating class and eager to become an adult. She smart, hopefully smart enough to be chosen for The Testing.
The Testing is a process that few graduating teenagers are selected for. The Testing is something that you must pass to go to University, and if selected, you never return to your home colony.
The night after she has been selected, her father (who also passed The Testing) tells her some very ominous things about how dangerous The Testing really is. He tells her to trust no one, keep a close eye on her possessions; do not eat anything anyone offers her (does she listen? Pfft.)
Along with her are three other people from her graduating class, one of them is Tomas, the “hot boy” of the class. Apparently they have sort of connection previous to the events of the book but that’s never really explained.
Cia quickly learns her that people from other colonies will kill her for the chance to go to University. They will destroy her chances. She still doesn’t learn not to trust anyone (UGH), though she is more careful about who she trusts as she goes further in the testing, I still think she is far too trusting.
The tests are violent and the wrong answer can mean death. Cia watches several people die. The third test involves them getting dropped off 800 or so miles from the capital city in wilderness and they must make their way back by whatever means necessary (this is about the time it gets very Hunger Games-ish).
The love story between Cia and Tomas was not very believable. It felt forced and there was no connection, though she kept saying there was something of a history between them, it’s not mentioned until later and it feels like more of an afterthought to include.
Cia also picks up that a testing official seems to favor her, and she’s very smart but she can’t stop trusting people and a lot of her survival seems to be based on luck. And a lot of “my father/brother/colony doctor taught me this as a child.” (Which happens quite a bit. It’s a little too convenient)
The writing was bland and direct with little description. I was told that Cia was sad instead of experiencing her sadness. The first half of the book was kind of slow; there are a lot of mundane, day-to-day things but the last half of the book (when they are in the wilderness) picks up and becomes a lot more interesting.
There is clearly more to the story. Why would government officials of a civilization trying to rebuild risk killing it’s brightest minds?
I’ll continue with the series to get some questions answered and I did enjoy the action. I liked Cia, even though I found her too trusting at times, she was a smart, honorable character. But overall I thought this book was so/so. I can only hope that it gets better.