Series: The Testing

BOOK REVIEW – The Testing (The Testing #1) by Joelle Charbonneau

BOOK REVIEW – The Testing (The Testing #1) by Joelle CharbonneauThe Testing (The Testing #1)
by Joelle Charbonneau
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Add to: Goodreads

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.

BOOK REVIEW – Independent Study (The Testing #2) by Joelle Charbonneau

BOOK REVIEW – Independent Study (The Testing #2) by Joelle CharbonneauIndependent Study (The Testing #2)
by Joelle Charbonneau
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Add to: Goodreads

I feel like I am looking for myself. Staring into the rocky void is like peering into a reflector of my emotions.

Wow. And once again Joelle Charbonneau has managed to creep me out and keep me on the edge of my seat. I think it goes without saying that terror comes in many forms. But Joelle has mastered the less apparent and infrequently used disquieting terror. It’s really hard to get under my skin when it comes to telling a story where we are supposed to be scared because of speculation-it’s all how you look at the story. If you just read on a surface level, it’s not hard to skim through the book with little emotion and cast it off as if there isn’t something deeper and more sinister going on. But both The Testing and Independent Study have made me think twice, made me delve deeper into the story to try and figure out what’s going on, why things are happening, and only then does it really begin to sink in how horrifying this whole testing and university process is.

In between the words are only silence and the pulsing of my heart marking the passing of the seconds. Minutes. Maybe hours. Time stands still. During this time, I think of Tomas and wonder what trial he is facing in his own Induction. I wish he were here with me now to help keep me safe. A whirring sound followed by a jubilant shout pulls me from my thoughts, but my prison door does not open.

Cia is in, she has done it. She passed the testing in the first book, and now all she has to do is pass a test and get through induction to become a true student at the university and receive her internship. But what if, again in this story, a wrong answer means certain death? Oh, it’s plastered with the phrase ‘you will be redirected’, but if you are told you are getting ‘redirected’, you better run, and run fast.

A cage that cannot be seen is no less there than if the walls were made of steel.

After candidates of the testing passed, they immediately had their memories erased. The events that led to passing were gruesome, disturbing, and most of all-evil. There is no other word for it. The testing officials can’t have their students remembering what they had to do to get to where they are now, can they? Because what they would remember is far too hard to fathom; to believe that they were capable of murder, lying, betrayal, defending their lives against someone they used to call a friend…’s almost impossible to move on from that. How can you sit next to someone that ultimately tried to shoot their crossbow at you, shot you in the stomach with a gun you didn’t realize they had, left you behind-no one would ever get past it. This kind of scenario was not what Cia pictured when she optimistically hoped for a chance to be chosen for the testing-to get the chance to be a united commonwealth leader in charge of making their cities a better place. It’s unheard of that the leaders would push this fate on the brightest hopes for the future of humanity…or is it?

“….sometimes the best leaders are the ones who have no interest in leading. Those are often the ones who are most interested in doing what is right, not what is popular.”

While the people who haven’t been redirected after the testing are assigned and taking their classes, there are yet again more tasks they are forced to confront where the same thing is happening again-you can’t trust anyone because everyone is fighting for the highest spot in their respective fields, and once again the ominous feeling takes hold, causing you to beg Cia not to trust this person, to not leave her residence at night, to leave that evil person behind because they will kill her to get ahead…

But that’s why I love Cia. She is smart, brave, and makes all the most well-thought out decisions possible. I know many people might not understand the appeal of hearing her calculate and think every scenario out, but that’s why I like this series. This author has created a world where you can’t make a move without thinking about it long and hard first-even something as simple as whether or not she should eat in the common room is a big deal. One wrong move and she could be pulled from her studies and ‘redirected’. I love Cia because she is compassionate and kind, even to those who threaten her with her life-she would never leave anyone behind. So I decided to make a new shelf-one for the great heriones in the literary world. As of now I can only think of one or two other girls/women I will put on there, so that speaks highly of what I think of this rational and caring girl.

When Tomas steps back, he whispers that he will see me in the morning. That he loves me and that no matter what our fields of study, we are still a team. We will always be a team. With one last gentle kiss, he disappears down the hall to find sleep. I turn to the same.

Ultimately I could go on and on about the dangers lurking in the shadows ready to stab Cia in the back, but I think I’ve made my point clear. While not as terrifying as the first, which I would have loved, I still enjoyed this story a lot and finished it within 24 hours. I would have loved to see more of Tomas because I love what he and Cia have went through together, but when he finally started appearing in the story a little more I was satsified with what I got. I know this isn’t a romance, but, hey, underneath it all I’m a romance girl, what can I say? I cannot wait to see what happens in book three when it comes out this summer, and I will read it immediately upon release-Cia is faced with the ultimate challenge. Now that it’s time for action…who can she REALLY trust? Guess we’ll find out not soon enough. 😉

And when Tomas’s lips find mine, the kiss is filled with passion and the hope that even if war comes, we will survive.

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