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.
Why I Chose It: This showed up on my Twitter, with the description that it is The Hunger Games meets SATs. I was definitely intrigued and wanted to check it out.
The Review: The Testing was an interesting read for me – mostly because the whole time I was trying not to compare it to the Hunger Games when really that’s all I could do. I’m not gonna lie, they’re very similar books. So while I wanted to do this post without comparing one to the other, I think it’s going to end up happening because unfortunately everything I thought about this book was in association with the other.
The books starts off with a familiar idea; the “Testing Candidates” are all brought to the Capital to under go the “Testing,” all to get 1 of 20 spots open in the University. The only trick is you have to survive the testing.
There were some interesting aspects to the book. The Testing itself was pretty good. It was pretty intense to watch the students go through what looks like regular school testing, except that if they got the wrong answer, they risked dying. Some of the tests themselves had pretty cool descriptions, and I enjoyed reading as Cia puzzled her way through them. However, that part of the book was over much too quickly for my liking. The final part of the testing involves being dropped in a remote location and having to make their way back to the university through a barren, dystopian landscape.
The whole second half of the book was this trip, and the is where the book really lost me. The traveling wasn’t interesting enough on its own, and it was filled with bloody scenes of kids trying to kill each other, or alternatively springing deadly traps that the university testers set for them. The problem for me was, the whole premise wasn’t explained well enough for me. In The Hunger Games, it’s kill or be killed. There is no other option. But in the Testing, these kids are killing each other to kill each other. All they have to do is travel from one location to another, and they all turn into blood thirsty murderers on the way there. And I couldn’t wrap my head around why the university needed to kill off more than 100 kids just to pick the top 20 for the university. It’s not exactly to teach the country a lesson when they keep it a giant secret from everybody. I unfortunately couldn’t believe in the setting, and therefore had a hard time reading the book.
Finally, I like when there are a lot of subtleties in a book, and The Testing was not one for being subtle. It was very blunt with its descriptions, and the few times where there was subtle information, the next paragraph repeated this information quite bluntly and obviously. It was like reading a book for a much younger reader. In addition, the more gore driven parts of the book were equally blunt, so while there wasn’t actually a lot of descriptions of the gross stuff, it all just felt very abrupt and left a bad taste in my mouth. I very much missed the finesse in which The Hunger Games dealt with this subject matter. That book dealt with all of that trauma so well, and there was none of that here.
The book is hard for me to rate, because obviously I’m very biased by The Hunger Games. If I hadn’t read that book, it’s quite possible I might have liked The Testing more. I have also seen a lot of reviews from people who loved both books equally – so if you loved The Hunger Games, you quite possibly could love The Testing. Unfortunately for me, I couldn’t connect with the characters or the setting, and I struggled with some of the writing. It wasn’t a book for me, but I hope that if you check it out that you enjoy it! :)
Rating: 2 / 5