August 11, 2013

Review: The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau
Series: The Testing #1
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Source: Netgalley
ISBN: 9780547959108
Release Date: June 4, 2013
Pages: 336

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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.

I have been putting off reading The Testing for awhile now. I tried to read it a few times, but it just did not grasp my attention, and it turns out there was a reason for that. This book was just blah. It was very bland. I was reading the words, but did not feel a thing for the characters. I need to feel connected to the story and characters, but in this case it was just a feeling of boredom. My love for a book is purely emotional. If the book makes my heart beat a little faster, make me want to speed through to the ending, leaves my mouth hanging open by the ending, I'm going to love, and when I didn't feel one thing for the book there lies a problem.

There wasn't any one thing that I hated about this book, because I didn't hate it, I just had no feelings good or bad towards it. I think I would rather hate a book than have such neutral feelings about it, because at least I know why I despised the character or plot. But with The Testing I have nothing. It was just another dystopian that just didn't fulfill my love for the genre.

The Testing is a typical dystopian novel. You have your world ending wars/plague/etc, a new ridged government, and a lovely heroine (with a love interest of course). Cia grew up in a world after the Seven Stages of War, which decimated the planet (or at least the U.S. as it isn't exactly clear what the rest of the world is like). The United Commonwealth was put together to govern the remaining survivors. Everyone must have a purpose and those lucky enough to be chosen are picked to attempt the testing. A brutal test that will weed out the weak for the future leaders of the United Commonwealth.

When Cia finally arrives at the testing facilities I had a hard time keeping the characters straight. Her competition all sounded the same. There wasn't any defining characteristics to differentiate between them. I didn't mind Cia's character. She wasn't your typical beautiful heroine, but doesn't realize it. She is practical and ordinary, which I liked about her. The love story with Tomas did feel forced. Less than half way through the book they are proclaiming their love to each other, but I didn't get it. They seemed more like good friends than romantic partners to me. At times I almost wished there was a love triangle so something of interest would happen, but it didn't.

Overall, the book did not impress me. The world building was lacking and I did not have any emotional connection to the characters.

My Rating: