Book lover. Stephen King Fanatic. Will try anything once. General Lover of Fiction. Reviewer Everywhere. All views my own. Mostly.
Publication Date: Available now from Templar Publishing.
Source: Purchased Copy.
Every year, the United Commonwealth invites top graduates from each colony to participate in The Testing. Successful candidates will go on to the University and help the government work to rebuild our war-stricken world. This process is not optional.
Disclaimer: The United Commonwealth is not responsible for candidates' psychological or physical heath during The Testing.
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!