by Joelle Charbonneau
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4.5 creepy, creeptastic stars
Ah, I just figured out the significance of the book cover. Clever. The Testing turned out to be a pleasant, unexpected surprise. Not in a while have I felt the creepy crawlies run up and down my spine as I read a book. I think it says a lot about a story if the most sinister parts are the first three tests over the dystopian charged final element. The initial testings (yes this word will probably be way overused as I review) really got under my skin. They were more preemptive, if you will, in that they tested the mind over strength and competence out in the wild. We got to see how the other candidates acted even in a non-threatening environment, and for me, seeing their true colors in the early stages of testing is what set the hair-raising mood.
Cia is a smart, strong-willed girl that winds up chosen for the testing like she has wanted all her life. The problem is, no one is as they seem and she will be faced with the task of figuring out who is worth trusting and who she should be on her toes around. I actually loved Cia’s character.
As I mentioned earlier, she is very cunning and thinks things through before she acts, but she wasn’t annoying. At all. She followed her instincts and tried her best to help those around her-whether they listened or not is their choice.
More than once I questioned the motives of everyone around her. I literally trusted not one person. It was hard for me, because I ultimately believe that generally the male lead is a little trustworthy, at least to an extent, or all of our female leads would be in serious trouble if they didn’t have at least one person by their side. Authors tend to do this repeatedly-an action I do support, as I am a romantic through and through. But Tomas, what to say about Tomas? He was sweet, kind, caring….and hiding something? That was the tone for most of the story. Does this person have secret motives? Why is that person smiling like that? Who shot that damn crossbow?!!! See what I’m saying? Who is to trust…we really don’t find out, not really.
The ending probably shouldn’t be classified as a “brutal cliffhanger” on my part, but I refuse to make a shelf labeled “mild cliffhanger”. Nope. So I am sticking to the fact that I felt like I wanted to keep reading even as the story ended. It was a disturbing ending indeed. I can’t even begin to explain how frustrating it was to finish on that note. It wasn’t hardcore, but it certainly left a somewhat bitter taste in my mouth.
The reasoning for my 4.5 star rating? It was just so weird and so spine-chilling for most of the book, but while the end was chilling, there was just one little thread missing. Maybe one sentence here and there to add to a tense situation that would have rocked me to my core in each scene. That’s all I think this book was missing. A little extra execution in stressful areas of the story. I don’t feel let down by any means, except by myself. I have this HORRIBLE habit of “accidentally” skipping to the bottom of the page at the end of the chapter or on pivotal moments. I hate it. But my eyes do it no matter how hard I try and fight it. I literally have to put my damn hand at the bottom of the page (lol) or my eyes reroute there and I see the whole “and then THIS happened” before I am supposed to, and I just sit there like…well shit. So, I attribute my lack of chills at the end to my lack of self restraint for the build up of a scene whilst reading.
I really enjoyed this one and I cannot wait until the fall for the second installment to come out. I don’t see how it could top this one, but I really hope it does.