Book Review : The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

March 4, 2014 Book review 21 ★★★

Let’s be honest, this is going to be a strange kind of review.  I liked The Testing, it was a page-turner for me but I can’t honestly rate it any more than a 3 star due to its sheer unoriginality.

Book Review : The Testing by Joelle CharbonneauThe Testing by Joelle Charbonneau
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on 4 June 2013
Genres: Dystopian, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 336
Format: eBook
Source: Kindle Freebie
Buy on Amazon

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.

First Line of The Testing:

“Graduation Day.”

My Thoughts on The Testing:

I was trying so hard not to compare this book to The Hunger Games but when you have a book that starts with a large crowd gathered in a town square to see what teenagers are sent to The Testing, it’s hard not to!

And any book that is held to the same standard as The Hunger Games is going to fall far short.  It wasn’t just the start that was the same, you also had Cia who was brave, intelligent and the hunter/gatherer for food.  Tomas is another candidate from the same area, bonds quickly with Cia and cooks the food.  Hmmhh, see where this is going?

Now it’s not totally the same or I would have DNF’d in a heartbeat but there are huge, striking similarities that were a bit distracting for me.  I loved the actual Testing procedures and the huge amount of detail we got about them.  This was fascinating and I nearly felt like I was taking the tests myself; I definitely felt the tension and fear of failing them.  They got nervous adrenaline pumping through my veins in that way that only tests can.

The language in the book is very straightforward.  No purple prose here!  But it was nearly too much in the other direction as it felt very basic.  I always highlight favourite quotes or quotes that make me think but here, nada!

The world building logic is odd!  But I’m holding judgement on that as this is only book 1 in a trilogy and what seems peculiar now may be explained in future books.  But selecting the crème de la crème of each region and then subjecting them to the consequences of The Testing seems very short sighted.  But like I say I feel there are lots more details to be revealed yet.

I also have to admit I never really felt the romance between Cia and Tomas.  I kept thinking I was meant to see how much they loved each other but I wasn’t convinced.  I’m not sure Cia or Tomas were either and I’m looking forward to see what happens in the next book.

The next book?  Yes, I’m going for it!  Even with the issues I had I still enjoyed The Testing.  I’m so curious about is in store for Cia next and I hope/feel some of my issues may be resolved in Independent Study.

Overall despite lots of issues I still got caught up in this book.  The pace worked really well for me and I enjoyed second guessing the tests.


Rating Report
Did I feel it?
Overall: three-stars


Who should read The Testing?

I’d recommend this to fans of dystopia novels.  If the unoriginal concept will drive you crazy, then stay away.  However if you are looking for a book with an intelligent, engaging main character and a snappy pace, then give this one a go.


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21 Responses to “Book Review : The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau”

  1. Rashika

    I actually got an eArc for this last year and I couldn’t. A lot of the early reviews talked about the similarities between the Hunger Games and The Testing and so when I dived in, I was expecting the worse and that’s exactly what I got. I couldn’t carry on after a while and ended up DNFing very early on.

    I am glad that in spite of the striking similarities between this book shared and The Hunger Games, you ended up enjoying it.

    Great Review, Trish!! 🙂
    Rashika recently posted…Favorite Childhood Villains in Court

    • trish

      I really did enjoy it but I can understand why you would DNF too. It was SO similar and that was annoying as I kept comparing them in my head.

  2. Kelley (Oh, the Books!)

    I got to see this author at an event for Independent Study, and I was really intrigued by the discussion of the book and everything she had to say. But your review seems to echo the thoughts I’ve read from other readers: the writing is a bit too simplistic and the plot has a lot of similarities to The Hunger Games. I’m glad you were still able to enjoy it, though, and plan on reading the next one. I think I’ll probably skip this one for now.
    Kelley (Oh, the Books!) recently posted…Grand Opening | Leanne’s Story

    • trish

      You go to so many events, I’m jealous! I didn’t really mind the simplistic writing as I thought the pace was snappy enough and so I never got bored. I just wish it had been more original.

  3. Charleen

    I feel like I was comparing Divergent to The Hunger Games the whole time I was reading it, and those aren’t even that similar. The issue with jumping on the latest trends is that it’s so easy to get burned out. I think it’s a shame, because you might eventually come across the book that could have been your favorite, if only you’d read it before all those others…
    Charleen recently posted…Specific Criticism and Vague Praise

    • trish

      I think after a while all dystopia books get a bit samey. I have to break them up or I get quick of them very quickly. The problem with this one is that in my opinion nothing comes close to THG so it suffered because I kept comparing it.

  4. Ana @ Read Me Away

    This is one of those books that I’m not really sure of, mainly for all those comparisons between it and THG. Then again, I feel the same way about Divergent but I’m more hesitant about it because of the hype surrounding it. (Also I really need to read it before I see the movie.)

    I am intrigued about the testing procedures, so I’m kind of curious. I guess this is one of those books that I won’t actively seek out, but will pick up if I come across it. Great review, Trish!
    Ana @ Read Me Away recently posted…Talk To Me 10: Scared by Starting Series

    • trish

      OMG Ana! Read Divergent! Now! It is one of my favourite books (the other two books are good but don’t reach the same standard as Divergent).

      I picked The Testing up as a kindle freebie so if it’s free again, you should deffo grab it. It is worth a read despite my issues.

  5. Kelly

    I really enjoyed this one too. Like you, I found it hard to overlook some of the similarities to THG, but overall, I also found it extremely readable. I’m pretty sure I read it in one sitting, which has to say something!

    Thinking back on it though, I don’t remember too much about it other than that I enjoyed it. I’m planning on picking up the sequel one day though, so hopefully it all comes back to me! Haha
    Kelly recently posted…Top Ten Popular Authors I’ve Never Read

    • trish

      Haha I’m finding that everytime I pick up a sequel; I remember nothing!
      The pace was really good and I know I flew through book too. Pity it was so similar as it did take from the book.

    • trish

      It’s hard not to compare but I still really enjoyed this one. It’s a pity how similar it was as I think it left a bad taste in my mouth but while reading I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. The tests were cool!

  6. Jenn @ A Glo-Worm Reads

    I actually really enjoyed this one. I try not to compare books while reading, sometimes it can be hard but there was enough in this that I still really liked.

    • trish

      I wish I was able to stop comparing; if I was I would have enjoyed this one a lot more. Have you read Independent Study yet? I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next.

      • Jenn @ A Glo-Worm Reads

        I haven’t read it yet, no. I’m debating waiting to read it when the last book comes out. I’m hoping it’s good!

  7. acps927

    I pretty much agree with everything you said, except I think I liked it slightly less than you. I might still check out the sequel, even though I haven’t yet. While I’m not a big purple prose fan, this was definitely a little too far in the opposite direction for me with it being so elementary!
    acps927 recently posted…The Top 10 Authors I Haven’t Read Yet

    • trish

      Elementary is a good way to describe it however I still enjoyed it a lot. The matter of fact language made it a quick read for me and I didn’t mind that part too much.

  8. Chelsea @ Starbucks & Books Obsession

    Great review Trish! I have this one. Sounds interesting but definitely a little disappointing that it is very similar to The Hunger Games. It’s definitely a huge plus when they are original. I will read this but probably not going to move it to the top of the TBR.

  9. Stephanie @ Inspiring Insomnia

    I’m interested to see what you think of the next book! I didn’t care for The Testing, but I got an ARC of Independent Study before I read The Testing, so I decided to read it. And I REALLY did not like it. It was illogical, and Cia is SO smart, SO perfect – better than anyone else on the planet, it seems. It’s just impossible for me to get behind a character like that.
    Stephanie @ Inspiring Insomnia recently posted…Review: Wicked Little Secrets by Kara Taylor

    • trish

      I want to read Independent Study to see if I can figure out the logic behind the world-building. Why select your best and brightest and then kill most of them :O I’m hoping for answers but your thoughts don’t inspire confidence that I’ll find them.

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