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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 13 March 2014
Of all the books that have been compared to The Hunger Games, this is the first series I’ve read that even comes close.

Seven stages of global war have devastated the planet, corrupting the land and making it hard for plants to grow and for people to thrive. To combat this, the United Commonwealth Government selects the brightest students to go forward for The Testing. If they pass, they will gain entry to the University, where they will be trained to be the next leaders of the country – tasked with rebuilding the Commonwealth by stretching the limits of medicine, biomechanical engineering and government, as well as finding new ways to grow crops and improve communications.

Cia is from Five Lakes colony, one of the most remote and least populated in the Commonwealth. So when four of her graduating class, including Cia, are selected to go forward for the testing, it’s an honour that hasn’t been seen in more than 10 years.

Having reached the Testing Centre, the candidates are whittled down one by one, so that only the smartest and the strongest remain. However, it soon becomes clear that the testing officials are more ruthless than Cia could ever have imagined. Failure or any kind is unacceptable. Any candidate that shows anything less than the intelligence, judgement and decisiveness judged to be necessary in a leader is penalised swiftly, without a chance for redemption.

As Cia attempts to make it through the five increasingly difficult and deadly stages of testing, she not only has to prove herself to those in charge, she also has to contend with rivals that are willing to do whatever it takes to pass.

Whereas other dystopian fiction books focus solely on staying alive, the characters in The Testing must excel academically, using logic, learning and their assessment of their peers to overcome challenges. On top of that, they have to have the survival skills, instincts and courage to succeed. For me, this just gives it a little something extra that marks it out from the rest in this genre. It feels like it’s something that could potentially happen if a government was ever to find itself in such a precarious situation. The consequences of global war are explored in some depth, but the main focus here is on rebuilding and creating something new.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 29 September 2013
(Source: I own a copy of this book.)
17-year-old Cia is surprised when she is chosen for `The Testing' - a series of examinations performed by a select group of graduates. Nobody has been chosen for testing from her small town in 5 years, and even her older brothers have been overlooked.

Now Cia must leave to participate in `The Testing'. If she passes she will be awarded a place at university, the way her father was, if she fails, she dies.

Cia must now learn who she can and can't trust, and just how far people will go to survive.
Can Cia make it through `The Testing'? Can she trust her fellow classmates who were chosen to go with her? And what isn't she being told?

This was an okay story, but I found it difficult to really get into, and it just felt like something was missing for me.

Cia was an okay character, she had integrity and faith in the basic goodness of humankind, even when other people did not. She did her best to help people, and was even maybe a little too trusting at times. It was nice how she always looked for the best in people, even in the most difficult of circumstances, and she really was a good person at heart. I felt really sorry for the position she found herself in, and it couldn't have been easy for her to watch her friends die.

The storyline in this was okay. It had elements of the hunger games - kids being picked to go to the city, battling it out against each other during tests etc., and also reminded me of `Maze Runner' at points. There were some twists and turns that I didn't see coming, and plenty of backstabbing!

I liked the romance, and I liked the general idea of the story, but for some reason I found this book really difficult to get into. I'm thinking that maybe this was just me, but I didn't really feel invested in the story until the 70% mark when things started to get a bit more exciting, and even found some of the early parts a little boring. Thankfully this did resolve, but I still didn't love this book, it just felt like it was missing something for me, but I don't know what.

The ending was quite interesting, and it was good to see how Cia's family still supported her, even from afar. I might read the next one in the series, but I think I'll probably borrow rather than buy!
Overall; an okay dystopian, but I found it difficult to get in to.
6.75 out of 10.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 1 August 2013
Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

When I first came across The Testing I knew I had to read it. I'm a huge fan of dystopia and anything marketed as "for fans of The Hunger Games" completely grabs my attention! I was fortunate enough to get sent a copy of this book to review. The Testing follows Cia as she approaches her graduation, and with it the chance of being entered into the Testing, a brutal challenge where the chosen few compete to gain a place at university.

Having read so much YA dystopia (because it's a genre I adore so much!) I'm always a little apprehensive going into a new novel, because I worry they'll all feel similar or the best ideas have already been done. The Testing really proved to me that there is still originality out there and the ideas in this book blew me away. I loved that the focus was academic. The characters chosen for the Testing are smart and have huge potential. I love seeing Cia use her brain to move forwards in the process. Each of the challenges she faces are complex and daunting, and I think you have to give the author huge credit for dreaming up these wonderfully intricate challenges that were incredibly clever. The writing was so sharp and intelligent.

I loved the world building in The Testing and the post-apocalyptic environment the story takes place in was unique and well developed. I really enjoyed reading about the history of the United Commonwealth and how it has been ravaged by war. There was so much attention to detail. The nation is split up into colonies and Cia comes from the Five Lakes Colony which has always been a bit of an underdog and gets looked down upon by people from other colonies. I think that made me root for Cia even more because she's representing her colony throughout the story.

Cia herself is a really likeable main character. I loved seeing the relationship she has with her father and brothers, and even the tense relationship with her and her mother was really fascinating. I think one thing that really drew me to her was the value she places on friendship, which we see early on as she has to face leaving behind her friend Daileen. All throughout The Testing Cia is faced with the dilemma of deciding who to trust, and I loved her ability to really look out for people even when she should be looking out for herself. I think the first person present tense narrative really helped me feel what she did and connect with her, too.

I adored the pacing in The Testing which was just perfect.There was so much action and more twists and turns than I could count. It seemed like every chapter ended on a cliffhanger which made it impossible to put it down! The suspense keeps up all the way throughout the book but the two halves have very different feels to them. The second half of the book is a real survival story and I can see why there are comparisons to The Hunger Games after reading that. I think it will definitely appeal to fans of Suzanne Collins' trilogy.

There's a sprinkling of romance in The Testing with Cia getting close to Tomas, a fellow Testing candidate. I loved that it wasn't shoved in your face. It was a really sweet relationship with two people facing some truly trying circumstances and having to look out for one another and growing to really care for each other. Like I mentioned before, the story is full of moments where Cia has to decide who to trust and seeing the relationship between her and Tomas play out was gripping.

There were some really harrowing moments in The Testing and I think that was where it really stood out for me as a dystopian novel. The situations Cia ends up in are so brutal and the fates of some of the characters were so heartbreaking. I was taken aback many a time by the betrayal and lies and conspiracies, but I love it when a book really takes me by surprise. It felt like no matter how hard I tried to guess what would happen I was never prepared for what was around the corner!

The Testing has a fantastic ensemble of characters and I loved getting to know all of them. I loved how the Testing candidates bonded and stuck together, whilst at the same time trying to figure each other out. I loved the complex characters like Zandri and Ryme and the ones that really won my affections like Malachi.

I feel like I've said so much already but I can't finish up this review without mentioning the ending! The climax to The Testing was incredible and left me absolutely dying to read the next installment. I felt like I'd gone on a complete rollercoaster ride reading this book. I was shocked, sad and scared for the characters throughout the story. It's a story that will definitely stay with me!

The Testing is definitely a dystopia that can stand out from the crowd and hold its head high. The writing was phenomenal and the ideas were so intricate and smart. I really became wrapped up with the characters and felt the emotions they did as I read. I can't recommend this one highly enough and I'll be watching the clock waiting to get my hands on book two! The Testing is most definitely a new favourite.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 11 October 2014
Very difficult to rate this book. Firstly, I'm not a teenager, and therefore I realise I'm well outside the target market!

I don't want to make too many comparisons, but this is extremely inspired by the Hunger Games. If it wasn't then it's just the strangest coincidence in book writing history. However that's not a bad thing since the Hunger Games was great.

The Testing definitely isn't a new Hunger Games. It's shorter, less emotionally resonant and the characters aren't as deep. It's essentially the same plot though, with some exceptions, and the world is a little different, but basically similar.

I think this would be great for an audience that's a little too young for the Hunger Games because the moral questions it raises are on a more basic level, there's less to get upset about in the story and yet it still touches on these things.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 14 August 2014
The Testing is about a young girl named Cia who is just about to graduate high school and find out whether or not she has been chosen for The Testing - a multi-part test to see which students will go on to study at The University to eventually become a leader of the United Commonwealth. The dystopian fantasy is set years after The Seven Stages War has left the majority of the world an unruly wasteland and Charbonneau is one of the best authors I've come across at world-building. Throughout the entire book, I believed this world was real and I was living inside of it, alongside Cia and the other characters. The book had a huge theme of trust and knowing whether your friends are really your enemies and who you should trust when everyone is in competition with one another. I liked this about the book, the fact that it had a deeper meaning that applies to everyday life and not just in a dystopian adventure novel.

One of my favourite aspects about this book was the protagonist. She was compassionate, had respectable values and seemed to make the same decisions that I would have made, had I been in her situation. I believe Cia is a good role model - something which a lot of YA novels lack and Charbonneau did an amazing job at creating a realistic strong woman who, although she has a love interest in the story, doesn't rely on this, or him, at all. I wasn't as much of a fan of her love interest, Tomas, as I maybe should have been. I just didn't feel he was trustworthy and throughout the book, I felt myself withdrawing from him as a character and hoping Cia wouldn't get into any trouble because of her feelings for him.

Before reading this book, I had heard a lot of people compare it to The Hunger Games and whilst I hate comparing books, I can see some similarities. I've read plenty of reviews where they compare the two and don't comment on the book as it's own piece of literature, so I won't be doing that in this review. I really liked the book as a whole and will be picking up the other books in the series. I would massively recommend that you read this book and I'd love to hear your thoughts on it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 31 July 2013
Despite the fact that The Testing is has taken so much from The Hunger Games, I did enjoy it and couldn't put it down! Unlike The Hunger Games, it does have its own quirks, unique sub-plots and characters. I give this book high points for its action and fast-paced storyline, but it scores low for originality.

The Testing is a series of exams from the government that determines whether you have what it takes to go on to help them rebuild their world which has been left in ruins by war. Cia is chosen for The Testing, and so is her childhood friend Tomas; they aren't super close, but they know each other well enough to trust each other. But the government are hiding something, and they realise that winning the Testing might not be the end to all their problems.

So you can kind of see how The Testing has taken quite a lot from THG: the idea of the government, or the United Commonwealth in this case, not being entirely honest, the idea of the characters' relationships (Katniss and Peeta/Cia and Tomas), the idea of a big group of people that want to rebel against the government, etc.

Thankfully, Charbonneau does add her own ideas into the book as well to not make it a carbon copy of THG. The exams in the Testing process really intrigued and kept me on the edge of my seat. Especially one of the tests that involved all the candidates to find their way out of a dangerous and beast-infested wasteland. Yep, that was one of the best parts of the book!

Cia shares Katniss' strong and courageous personality. She is ready for almost anything and thinks everything over very carefully. I enjoyed her relationship with Tomas, as well. In the first half, everything went at a steady pace, but in the second half... that's where things start heating up for the two. No complaints here!

Even though I enjoyed the plot and what the characters had to offer, I'm going to have to dock some points for originality. I do believe that the author has more to give. Her writing style is very likable, and some of her ideas that she added into the book are original enough for me to think that she CAN come up with something completely her own. It makes me sad that she has taken so much from a previous very successful dystopian novel for her YA debut to be noticed.

The Testing is bursting with twists and turns. Danger is around every corner, so action and tension is never lacking. The book ended on a pretty good cliffhanger, setting itself up well for the sequel that I actually can't wait to get my hands on.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Firstly I'd like to just say that this book was a lot better than I expected. I heard a lot of bad things about it and yes, it does remind me a lot of Divergent because of the different stages of testing but does that matter? hell no. I really liked this book, it wasn't amazing but it was really enjoyable.

I liked Cia, as far as leading female characters go I don't think she was that bad, only too trusting. I didn't however like Tomas one bit, he just annoyed me so much and I hated how he felt like he owned Cia, yes some of the people she wasn't to involve in the team up were less than trust worthy but for god sake man if she want's to be friends with this person let her, she'll find out soon enough without you being pushy. Some of the side characters did annoy me though, and I think in the end I only ended up really liking Cia. There were a few here and there that caught my eye, but I'm ashamed to say I've forgotten what they are called haha.

I also really liked the world Joelle Charbonneau built. Yes some will argue that it has been too many times but while that may be true, the end result was just the difference needed to make it a good book and I for one and looking forward to the next book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 29 August 2013
Overall, this book is okay. Joelle Charbonneau has created as world within The Hunger Games, Divergent and The Maze Runner - three bestselling novels. However, it's becomes too similar as the book progresses and becomes extremely predictable. For example, the main character Cia has her graduation at the beginning - a ceremony at the beginning like The Hunger Games (The Reaping) and Divergent (Choosing day). She's placed in a random place to reach the other end, having to walk thousands of miles. Extremely similar to the second Maze Runner novel. Killing is not against the rules. So it's almost like she's been placed into The Hunger Games arena and has to fight to the death for freedom. But in this case, 20 people can survive.
Cia falls in love with a boy and become allies during their time walking to the finish line. Isn't that like Katniss & Peeta?
Overall, it's entertaining, but it doesn't particularly stand out when compared to other dystopian novels.
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on 3 July 2015
It was cheap on kindle, I enjoyed the Hunger Games, I was looking for something similar in the easy/dystopian/ sci fi genre.
Its a YA book which I would say seems to be aimed at the lower/ mid teens range which is the age of the protagonists. No doubt that is why the relationships are very non hormonal and come across as a bit 'thin' (when in reality I'm sure passions would have run higher..I am nearer to pensioner age rather than YA but was one once!) However, set in a post apocalyptic Earth, there are nonetheless some very adult concepts explored. In a bid to avoid the problems that caused the apocalypse- a series of wars upon wars due to leaders who made bad decisions- a method has been devised to select the future leaders which involves a form of 'testing' that, we learn effectively kills a load of them off in the process! (this premise doesn't seem to make sense but is perhaps explored more in the later books). The characterisation in the HG is to my mind superior with subtle nuances and good wry observation which to me this book lacks. However, in The Testing we explore an interesting and effectively realised world through the eyes of a feisty and bright female lead. Her inner struggles are explored as she begins to realise the true nature of those she meets. The good/bad folk aren't generally signposted too early, we find out about them as she does and you share her shock and disappointments. She is a bit too good/clever to be true at times though and clearly others think so too. There is some conspiracy/political skulduggery going on in the background as well as an eco theme in a world where resources have been wiped out and have to be re-created. (not doing too bad a job mind given some of the meal descriptions - look out for '..The Testing Cookbook'..'
Overall, I think teens and adults can enjoy this, I found it an easy, enjoyable read and a page turner during a train journey. I've bought the next two in the series on the strength of it.
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Having heard that this book was a lot like Hunger Games put me off reading it. I love the Hunger Games and I’m not really in the mood to read a replica. However, fortunately, when I finally got around to reading The Testing, I was pleasantly surprised. This book truly gripped me and I found it so difficult to actually stop reading and resume to normal life. While I agree that this book has elements that are vaguely similar to both Hunger Games and Divergent, it is also unique in its own right and well worth the read. Of course, if you Hunger Games and/or Divergent, you are more likely to like this book, if only because it is a dystopian with a similar style.

As mentioned above, the plot of this book truly gripped me. It was intense, full of mystery and intrigue andd was hard to find fault with. Joelle has created an interesting world that I found fascinating to learn about through this plot. It is a world with a newfound government that is all for making the world a place of peace with brilliant leaders. These leaders become leaders after they have first been tested It is of the highest priveledge to be tested, or that is what everyone is led to believe anyway. All of the tests in The Testing were brilliant and I loved reading about them. I was continuously on edge and curious about what would happen next, something that occured because of this marvellous plot. I fif have a few issues further into the book that irked me somewhat – but can’t mention without spoilers – but fortunately they didn’t ruin my overal enjoyment of the book.

Cia was my favourite character in this book by far. She was strong, smart and resilient. But, she also had her flaws and was just a truly human and realistic character that I couldn’t help but love. She was everything I love to see in female dystopia characters – completely kickass but with a true conscience. She definitely made this book a lot more enjoyable for me. If she had acted differently I think I would have given up on the story a while back. Tomas, in comparison, was irritating. I didn’t trust him and as much as I could see why Cia liked him, I just couldn’t do it myself. But, that’s not to say he wasn’t a good character. He was kind, supportive, and friendly and I can understand why others would like him. Other supporting characters were well-written and fleshed out and there were many I found myself connecting with!

Truth be told, I have read a Joelle Charbonneau novel before and I really enjoyed it. However, that was a cozy mystery novel for adults; very different from this, thus I wasn’t sure if I would still enjoy her writing style for a more serious type of book. So I was glad to find myself pleasantly surprised by her writing in this book. She has really managed to make her writing intense and gripping one minute, and then full of pause and emotion the next. She’s really found the perfect combination for a dystopian, which made the book that much more enjoyable to read. It just made it clear how talented Joelle is and I am looking forward to reading more books by her – in any genre!

In a few words to summarize everything, I loved this book! It was a great read that was full of suspense, mystery and action. It had amazing and powerful characters you can’t help b love, and a truly electric and unique plot that had you on edge throughout the book. It truly is an amazing book that I think so many more people should be reading! So if you like dystopians that are similar in style to Hunger Games and Divergent, but also manage to hold their own, then please do pick up this book, I am sure it will be worth it! And do not worry if you are a Hunger Games lover and don’t want a story that is practically the same because you won’t find that with The Testing, I promise. So, what are you waiting for? Go read it!
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