Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Released: June 4th 2013
My Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads
The Seven Stages War left much of the planet a charred wasteland. The future belongs to the next generation’s chosen few who must rebuild it. But to enter this elite group, candidates must first pass The Testing—their one chance at a college education and a rewarding career.
Cia Vale is honored to be chosen as a Testing candidate; eager to prove her worthiness as a University student and future leader of the United Commonwealth. But on the eve of her departure, her father’s advice hints at a darker side to her upcoming studies--trust no one.
But surely she can trust Tomas, her handsome childhood friend who offers an alliance? Tomas, who seems to care more about her with the passing of every grueling (and deadly) day of the Testing. To survive, Cia must choose: love without truth or life without trust. (from Goodreads)
I really enjoyed The Testing while I was reading it and was definitely engrossed in the story. However, after I finished it, I started to think of all the things that just didn’t make much sense or seem believable. So I am sort of torn on how to rate this book. It was a great book to read but it had a lot of flaws that I can’t just ignore.
I’ll start with the good things. I was hooked from the start and finished the book in one day because I was so interested in finding out what would happen in the end. I never knew who to trust and was basically suspicious of everyone because after the things that happened during the Testing, not being suspicious would get you killed (though I think I was mostly intrigued by the people outside the Testing who tried to help Cia – I wondered how they were alive and what their motive was!). I also liked Cia, because she acknowledged her faults and tried to learn from them. She was very, very smart and she worked out that other people may be a lot more deceitful than her, so she had to alter her plans or ideas to account for people that may possibly betray her. Cia definitely had determination and absolutely refused to give up or to let everything she had done and all the sacrifices that had been made be wasted. I liked the fact that Cia and Tomas were from the same place as well because it means they had similar ways of thinking that were different from the people from other areas of the country (though will admit I never fully liked or trusted Tomas and the romance was okay but a bit eh) and the ending was one hell of a way to get people to want to read the next book.
However, there were a lot of problems. First of all, Cia’s father never seemed to want his children to get chosen for the Testing because of some strange dream-like memories he retained from his own Testing depicting horrific images and terrible things that he possibly had to go through before his memory was erased after the Testing was over (which was also so odd and yet no-one questioned this whole memory-erasing thing). You’d think that, to prevent his own children being chosen for the Testing, he would tell them about these memories beforehand. But no. The man kept it a SECRET until AFTER Cia was chosen. In what universe does this make any sense whatsoever? If he had told his children about these dreams/memories when they were young and warned them about how dangerous the Testing may possibly be, then they might not have tried so bloody hard to get chosen, would they! And he wouldn’t have had to put them at risk and spend the rest of his life worrying! Of course they might have written it off as their dad being paranoid or worrying too much, but he could have at least tried! Ugh it annoyed me so much. I just didn’t get it at all. Obviously there’d be no story if the dad had told Cia, but it just seems entirely unreasonable that he wouldn’t. “Oh I didn’t want to destroy your dreams” (me, paraphrasing his thoughts) – so destroying their dreams is worse than trying to save them from the possible horror that awaits, is it? Just what good did hiding this from Cia do? -_-
Another thing I had a problem with was that I just didn’t buy the world they were living in. The Testing was basically where all the smartest people from each area of the country were chosen to take part in the Testing where their abilities and aptitudes for career paths and further education would be evaluated. This, I could accept. However, there was no justification for SUCH a vigorous, dangerous, horrific Testing. Why would anyone need to go through all of that when their futures would essentially consist of going to university and then do some research to build new things? If they were going off to fight in war, MAYBE I would get it. Not so they could become research analysts in charge of creating new eco-friend irrigation systems or whatever. What made no sense as well was the fact that it seemed like all the people who failed the Testing just got killed. KILLED. So many people died. And it made no sense to kill them! Just because they failed one aspect of the Testing – how could no-one else in the world possibly notice that all the smartest people were getting killed? And seeing as it was only the smartest people who got through to the Testing, wouldn’t killing off half of them just created a wider gap between normal and super-smart people? Only the best of the best survived – all the in-betweens were just killed off! Would this not just be counterproductive? They could still be useful in society! They could have just had their memories erased and then placed somewhere else! What got me as well was that the people taking the Testing didn’t even question where the failing participants were going at first, and then when they FINALLY figured it out they weren’t even that alarmed that all these people died until it was someone close to them dying.
Other things that seemed to make no sense/weren’t believable: A) in the beginning, ALL the girls, dressed up in their nicest, dressiest clothes for the Testing, except Cia, OF COURSE, who was the only girl to realise that the Testing may require clothes to move around in. So these girls were all smart enough to be picked for the Testing, but not smart enough to realise the Testing would require comfy clothes? -_-. I did not like how they were ALL portrayed as being silly with Cia as the only exception. They were all highly intelligent, so this just seemed absurd. B) towards the end of the book, there was this one guy (no name to avoid spoilers) who needed to cross a finish line to pass the Testing round, but he was highly injured, had a burst appendix AND was still a few miles away from the line with not much time left to get there. AND HE STILL MADE IT. He survived MILES with gunshot wounds and a BURST FREAKING APPENDIX, travelling by himself! How did he not AT LEAST pass out on the way there?
Overall, I had a bit of a rocky relationship with The Testing. I really do want to find out what happens in the next book, but there was just so much that annoyed me! I think I will have to admit though that my curiosity at this point is outweighing the unbelievable things, so I think I’ll give a three star rating. Recommended if you want an engaging and fast-paced book full of action to pass the time.