The Testing is the first of three books in a YA Dystopian series by Joelle Charbonneau where a cast of young characters are challenged to stay alive to earn a better position in their society. Just when the survivors think that they are safe, their memories are wiped and they are back to square one. It’s awful for them but a great novel for us.
It was an extremely enjoyable read because it felt like a mixture of the Hunger Games and the Maze Runner book series. In relation to the Hunger Games, the story is told from the perspective of a strong young female character named Cia Vale who has been chosen from her area for a special honor to compete for a prize. Deciding who she can trust will help decide her fate and Tomas, the boy from her neighborhood, could become a romantic interest like Peeta was for Katniss. In relation to the Maze Runner, it’s the opposite effect. In the maze, they must overcome obstacles without their memories, without knowing who they really are and if they have the courage and heroism to defeat their enemies. They have to figure these things out on the way. In the Testing, they have to complete overwhelming challenges where working together is a choice that would have deadly consequences. For those who survive all odds, which in many cases caused deadly feuds with other participants, all their memories are wiped away and former enemies are reintroduced to each other as pals. It's very exciting for the audience because we know what the characters have done under extreme circumstances. Readers are left wondering if some of the characters can be redeemed or will beloved characters be left vulnerable to dangerous people. I finished this story eager to continue on with the next book, the Independent Study.
The series has a lot of potential and since it was recommended to me by various friends, I know I’m not going to be disappointed. Even though I compared her book to other beloved series, this author has done a great job in creating a compelling futuristic world where the price for education is a cost few would be willing to pay if they knew the consequences.
It’s graduation day for sixteen-year-old Malencia Vale, and the entire Five Lakes Colony (the former Great Lakes) is celebrating. All Cia can think about—hope for—is whether she’ll be chosen for The Testing, a United Commonwealth program that selects the best and brightest new graduates to become possible leaders of the slowly revitalizing post-war civilization. When Cia is chosen, her father finally tells her about his own nightmarish half-memories of The Testing. Armed with his dire warnings (”Cia, trust no one”), she bravely heads off to Tosu City, far away from friends and family, perhaps forever. Danger, romance—and sheer terror—await.