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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
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...
Published 10 months ago by Macey89

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Okay YA Dystopian
(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...
Published 16 months ago by Sarah


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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 13 Mar. 2014
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Macey89 - See all my reviews
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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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Okay YA Dystopian, 29 Sept. 2013
By 
(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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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real stand out - the next big thing!, 1 Aug. 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
3.0 out of 5 stars A version of the Hunger Games for a younger audience., 11 Oct. 2014
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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
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing start to dystopian series, 14 Aug. 2014
This review is from: The Testing (Paperback)
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
4.0 out of 5 stars Very much like The Hunger Games, 31 July 2013
This review is from: The Testing (Hardcover)
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
3.0 out of 5 stars Ok read., 29 Aug. 2013
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This review is from: The Testing (Paperback)
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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4.0 out of 5 stars Really really enjoyed this one., 30 Aug. 2014
By 
Liz Wilkins "Lizzy11268" (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Testing (Paperback)
So, sounds a bit Hunger Games right? Well yes, and it will suffer the inevitable comparison, and there are some similarities in the premise, but here’s my thing. I don’t care about that if I enjoy a book, find someone to root for, become engaged with the story and at the end am really keen to read more. All of which happened with “The Testing”.

We meet Cia, about to leave school and REALLY hoping to be chosen for “The Testing” – a series of exams and tests that are only taken by the brightest and the best from the varying communities, in the hopes of gaining a University place and training to help rebuild a world devastated by war. Wishing to follow in her fathers footsteps, a university graduate himself, she cannot understand his reluctance…but as events unfold she realises that things are not as they first appear.

I found this very refreshing actually – a great little take on , lets face it, a done to death dystopian tale – in this instance with some terrific characters and a truly addictive storyline and enough of a unique spin to make it stand out. The world building is clever – some adept and not unbelievable history behind the way things are for Cia and descriptively speaking some wonderful prose which brought the whole thing to life and made it easy to imagine the places she inhabits.

Things I REALLY liked – There is a romance angle but it is low key, not detracting from the action and realistically placed. Cia herself has a great depth of character – she has a way of lateral thinking that appealed to me and made me believe that she could overcome all hurdles. Love interest Tomas has an edge to him, a slight sense of danger as if you are not quite sure what he may do even though really he is as nice as pie. The Testing itself is intelligently drawn – with some good mystery angles as to what it is REALLY all for and some truly edge of the seat moments – Ms Charbonneau is not adverse to suddenly pulling the rug out from under your feet when it comes to characters you are fond of so beware!

Things I want more of: Zeen. Zeen please. Cia’s brother was perhaps the character that intrigued me the most. He provides a bit of a cameo function in this first novel as Cia leaves him behind at home when she embarks on The Testing – but the author has certainly made the promise with his mini role that there is more and better to come. Likewise with her Father – there is a definite frisson and feeling that there is a lot more to learn about this family and whilst I do not know what is coming next, those items are firmly on my wishlist.

Overall then a terrific read. Engaging, sometimes emotional, often thrilling and very very cool. I look forward to Book 2 with great interest – it will be coming up on my reading list soon.

Recommended for: Fans of YA Dystopia whatever your age and if you loved The Hunger Games I think this will satisfy.

Happy Reading Folks!

**Source; Purchased copy**
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Testing book 1, 9 Aug. 2014
By 
Sarah (Feeling Fictional) (Kent, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Testing (Paperback)
I'd heard a lot of good things about The Testing but I have to admit I was sceptical before I picked it up. Any time I see a book compared to the Hunger Games I'm automatically wary that it won't be able to live up to my expectations but I'm very happy to say that wasn't the case here. In fact I think I might have enjoyed it even more than HG! There are similarities between the world that Joelle Charbonneau has created and both HG and Divergent but she has still managed to create a unique story that stands out amongst the plethora of dystopian books currently on the market. This is an exciting trilogy and one I'm incredibly relieved is already finished so I'm not going to have any horrible long waits between each book.

Cia lives in a world that was torn apart by nuclear war, what remains of the United States - now known as the United Commonwealth - has been divided into colonies that are all tasked with rebuilding the area they live in, working to make the land habitable again and to find ways to combat the radiation that is a constant risk to their lives. The brightest students from each of the colonies are invited to take part in the Testing, it is one of the only ways they'll get a chance to leave their home and travel to other areas and the only chance they have of studying at the university. People who take part in the Testing go on to become leaders and it is a great honour to be chosen. Cia comes from Five Lakes, one of the smaller and lesser known colonies where nobody has been chosen for the Testing in years. Cia has always dreamed of being able to take part though and she has studied hard to make the grade.

Along with three other members of Five Lakes Cia is chosen to take part in the Testing and she is thrilled to be given this chance to represent her colony. It isn't long before she starts to discover that she hasn't been told the truth of things though, the Testing is far more brutal than she could ever have imagined and most of the participants won't even survive the challenges they face. Cia will face daunting tasks but failure won't be tolerated and the only way to leave the competition if you aren't one of the winners is in a body bag. She must try to figure out who she can trust so that she can build alliances with fellow candidates but is anyone really what they seem? If it's a matter of life or death can she really trust anyone?

The Testing is an incredibly fast paced story that is full of shocking twists and turns that kept knocking me sideways. I was never 100% sure where things were going to take Cia next and I found myself constantly second guessing people trying to decide if they were trustworthy or not. Cia is such a fantastic character, she is smart and she actually knows how to use her brain, that's right, for once we have a female in YA who is intelligent AND who doesn't loose her brain because she's gone gooey eyed over a hot love interest. She wants to see the best in people but she doesn't let that blind her to the possibility of betrayal. That doesn't mean she's perfect, she does make mistakes and occasionally puts her trust in the wrong people, but in general she is able to survive on her wits rather than by letting other people pull her through.

I enjoyed the beginnings of romance between her and Tomas but what I loved most about it was the fact that it never felt forced or rushed. They both grew up in Five Lakes so there is a bond between them that comes from being familiar with each other but it still takes time for them to trust each other fully. They form a strong friendship throughout shared ordeals and they prove to each other time and time again that they have each other's backs. I was totally invested in their friendship and am hoping to see that build into something more as the series continues.

This story stands out in a crowded YA dystopian market and it's a series that's reignited my excitement for the genre. I'm incredibly excited to see how the series progresses and if the next two books are anywhere near as good as this one I'm going to have a new favourite on my hands. Joelle Charbonneau has definitely been added to my list of authors to watch out for!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Gripping and fast paced, 23 Nov. 2014
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The Testing is a gripping, fast paced story with interesting characters who come across as believable. Some YA books use over cliched characters, or too obvious love interests, but the Testing manages these well so it feels less forced and more natural, and the growth of Cia's character through the story is quite engaging.
The story is of a similar type to the hunger games, however, the 'world' is a little less deep, the characters a little less rich, and the twists and turns of the plot more like minor bends in an otherwise relatively straight road.
I found myself guessing at the outcome before the book reached it.
That said, it is a good read. You do want to find out what is around the next corner, and the ending is one of the better endings for a YA trilogy because it feels like natural finishing point in the story, but one that leaves us wanting to read the next book, without feeling disappointed that it has stopped where it has.
The descriptions on the world are interesting, and builds a believable dystopian world. The only part I thought it lacked was any explanation as to why the testing really take place or what the purpose of their brutality truly is. I guess that will come out in the future books though.
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The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau (Paperback - 1 Aug. 2013)
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