The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

testing_joellecharbonneauDo you like standardized testing filled with hours of questions you have to fill out with a number two pencil? Wouldn’t it be more interesting if wrong answers resulted in your death? Welcome to The Testing.

Set in a dystopian future, this is the life of Cia as she is chosen for the testing. She’s from a small town, but is very smart and wants to be a mechanical engineer. There are several stages of testing, the first few standard things that you’d expect: math, history, etc. A question about categorizing plants between poisonous and nonpoisonous really showcases the intensity of the testing. Everyone had to eat the plants that they categorized and nonpoisonous. If they were wrong, well, death ensued.

What I found disappointing was that this book did not feel original to me. Maybe I’ve just read too many dystopian novels at this point, or this book borrowed too many similar ideas (aside from written standardized testing as far as I know) to feel new to me. There is a mostly average girl from an underrated location who goes somewhere new to survive and prove her worth. The underestimated idea from district twelve as well as a physical aspect of wilderness survival reminded me of The Hunger Games. The idea of a test where anyone can die at any time felt like Divergent. And the ominous government hiding everything from the public can go back to almost any dystopian work.

That isn’t to say it wasn’t a good book. Cia is a strong female character who uses her brains and even weapons when the events call on her to defend herself. She has a love interest, but he’s not really the focus. I didn’t really feel that Cia was really interested in him too much either because the situation she’s in took precedence in the plot. If you aren’t sick of dystopias at this point and don’t mind a few repeated themes, go ahead and give The Testing a try.

-Nicole G., 12th Grade

The Testing is available for download from Overdrive.