The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau
In a world post-destruction, a new country emerges from the chaos and enlists the best and brightest to take part in The Testing, a series of – you guessed it – tests, to help determine which students will go on to study at the University and become the future leaders. The Testing, a highly coveted honor, turns out to be more secretive and deadly than the teenagers can imagine, and the final stage sees them out in the wilderness, trekking from point A to point B, fighting to the death. Sound familiar?
The Testing is yet another teen dystopia that jumped on the tails of The Hunger Games and tried to replicate its success and formula… and I was very disappointed in it’s inability to waver from its inspiration.
MINOR SPOILERS BELOW
Cia, a girl from the smallest
district colony wants nothing more than to follow in her father’s footsteps and be invited into The Testing, but no one from her colony has been selected in years. When she does get selected, her father gives her a dire warning, telling her not to trust anyone and that he has horrible nightmares from his own experience, but cannot remember any specific details.
So she goes (if she doesn’t it’s considered treason anyway), along with
Peeta Tomas, and two other kids from her year. They are escorted by Cinna Michal, who takes a special interest in Cia and shares secrets with her. Cia discovers they are being recorded (surprise surprise) and tries to follow her father’s warning about trust, but has a hard time. Especially when it comes to Tomas, who apparently is in love with her (duh, though I’m not sure why).
And they test. The first round is written tests, after which people are eliminated (what happens to them?). Then they have hands-on tests that are apparently super dangerous if you get them wrong. Next come teamwork tests, and finally the survival test where killing isn’t against the rules, but it’s not a fight to the last person either… the University will take twenty students, which they will determine from the final round of interviews after the wilderness test. But naturally some people are cruel and determined and cutthroat and want to weed out their competition, so naturally, killing ensues. Because of course.
Apparently not everyone is super happy with the government, and there’s a whole conspiracy against the Testing and the colonies and yawn.
Throughout the whole thing, Cia realizes she’s playing for the “audience” and has to keep her real thoughts back home to protect her family, and of course she and Tomas declare their love for one another (ugh, in the middle of a survival test?). Not to mention there are even human
muttations mutations and traps set by the Testers. So… yep. More Hunger Games ripping off.
I won’t lie, I got sucked into the book, and read it in two days, but you can bet I was rolling my eyes and writing down snarky comments the entire time. I love reading dystopians, and I was intrigued with the basic concept of this book (I was thinking more like Hunger Games meets Harry Potter), but I was upset with the blatant similarities. For awhile I even toyed with the idea that this was fanfiction, the characters and events were so similar.
That being said, I’ll read the following two just to find out what happens, though I don’t know if I really care all that much.
I did love The Hunger Games, so it makes sense I’d like this as well, but I only give it two stars because it didn’t even try to be different from its inspiration, and it failed in comparison.