Tuesday, June 10, 2014

{Review} Independent Study (The Testing #2) By: Joelle Charbonneau

Title: Independent Study (The Testing #2)
Author: Joelle Charbonneau
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Shelves: Young Adult, Dystopia, Science Fiction
Recommended For Fans Of: Suzanne Young, Suzanne Collins, Veronica Roth

Synopsis from Goodreads: In the series debut The Testing, sixteen-year-old Cia Vale was chosen by the United Commonwealth government as one of the best and brightest graduates of all the colonies . . . a promising leader in the effort to revitalize postwar civilization. In Independent Study, Cia is a freshman at the University in Tosu City with her hometown sweetheart, Tomas—and though the government has tried to erase her memory of the brutal horrors of The Testing, Cia remembers. Her attempts to expose the ugly truth behind the government’s murderous programs put her—and her loved ones—in a world of danger. But the future of the Commonwealth depends on her.

Review: This review is going to be slightly shorter than most of my regular reviews. If you'd like to read a full-length review of The Testing, here it is! http://fictionthenewreality.blogspot.com/2014/06/review-test-testing-1-by-joelle.html However, for those of you who have read The Testing and decided to read the sequel as well, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

I loved The Testing from the very start, and at this rate, it seems like I'll be loving it until the very end as well. The sequel was just as fabulous as I hoped it to be. Although there wasn't the same rush from all the action that the first book provided, I still think Independent Study was a mind-warping thrill ride. For those of you who have yet to read Independent Study, Cia is now at the university, where she has been assigned to the governmental branch, to her own surprise. Once she begins her classes, she is immediately overwhelmed- with the eyes of authority that seem to be constantly watching her, the workload that no other student seems to have, and the whispers of threats just beyond the horizon- threats that speak of a rebellion that will put a stop to the dangerous testing once and for all.

Cia was fabulous in Independent Study. She had to endure a lot of mind games and intelligence testing in Independent Study, and as a reader who loved Cia from the start, I felt a sense of pride at how amazing of a character she was. I really admire how much Joelle Charbonneau encompassed into Cia's character; making her one of the best heroines I've encountered in YA fiction. My only complaint was that at times, Cia seemed a bit TOO perceptive and I wanted her to accept her slight weaknesses in more ways throughout the book. However, Cia is still among my top favorite characters, and she will always be.

The introduction of amazing background characters was also a great move on Joelle's part. I loved seeing Ian and Michal make their way into Cia's life, and into the reader's heart. It wouldn't be a bad idea if Joelle wanted to do a spin-off series based on their own stories... *winks*

Conclusion: Independent Study was a very satisfying sequel to an amazing book, and I couldn't have asked for anything better from this fantastic author and this heart-pounding series that gives Divergent a run for its money.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

{Review} The Test (The Testing #1) By: Joelle Charbonneau

Title: The Testing (The Testing #1)
Author: Joelle Charbonneau
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Shelves: Young Adult, Dystopia, Science Fiction
Recommended For Fans Of: Suzanne Young, Veronica Roth

Synopsis (From Goodreads): Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Isn’t that what they say? But how close is too close when they may be one in the same? 

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.
Review: This is my second time reading The Testing, and it has only gotten better. I have so much love for this book, and I really wish more people would know about and read The Testing! At this point, I realize many people are tired of dystopians. In fact, I, myself am tired of them as well. But The Testing is an awesome, amazing exception. It exceeds my expectations in a world of worn-out dystopian themes. While the general idea behind this book is very similar to both The Hunger Games and Divergent, The Testing is written so well that it can completely stand out against two of dystopia's biggest hits.

Why did I love it? Well, for starters, The Testing has some heart-pounding action. I often find it really difficult to keep up with the jumps and twists and what-nots in dystopians and general thrillers, but I had no trouble with The Testing. It kept me engaged and utterly captured at some of the best and most heart-pounding scenes that Joelle Charbonneau wrote. One of the best things about The Testing is the way it combined romance, suspense, action, and science fiction into one explosive story.

Characters: Cia is the main character, and she is absolutely amazing. Cia is strong, but not overly strong; intelligent, but not a complete genius; and confident; but not even a bit arrogant. She is the perfect example of strong feminism and yet, she is genuine and real. Dare I go so far as to say that Cia is one of the best heroines I've encountered upon in young adult dystopia? I do dare to say this, and I hope that many of you will agree with me once you read The Testing. Cia is a character you will root for, and you will enjoy following her along her testing. Cia's love interest Thomas is another example of a wonderful character. Although he seemed like Cia's back-up, Thomas's own story is something that gives a reader pause and thought.

Romance: There is, very obviously, romance between Thomas and Cia. However, unlike Divergent and The Hunger Games, this relationship is not obstructed by too many obstacles. It is a nice change to see a relatively "smooth" relationship among many that frustrate you to the point of extreme annoyance. Thomas and Cia had a passion that while was not extremely highlighted in The Testing, became a background that was very enjoyable and made me smile.

Plot: The Testing, while not entirely a unique IDEA, is unique in its own way. The introduction of many parts of the actual tests itself had me craving more, and I guarantee the same will happen for you. The plot is quick and easy to keep up with, like I have said before.

Conclusion: I've actually been recommending The Testing to many of my own friends, which only happens with books I truly, truly love. And The Testing is one of those books. So here I am, recommending this to you, dear review reader. Read The Testing. And love it. :)