Testing

Testing

Book Information

Publisher
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children 2013

Of course, Cia longs for a chance to attend the University! But to pass the Testing, she must be willing to do anything and to trust no one... not even her first love. The stakes are high - the dangers are too numerous to count.

All the scientists, teachers, and leaders of the cataclysm-torn United Commonwealth have passed The Testing and succeeded at Tosu University. When graduation day closes with no word from the capital, Cia thinks she's stuck working on tractors in Five Lakes Colony forever. But the next day brings a Tosu official who tells Cia, Tomas, Malachi, and Zandri that they will leave for the Testing in the morning!

As her family and friends celebrate, Cia's father tells of his recurring nightmares from his Testing time and  warns her to trust no one. From the moment they leave Five Lakes, everything is part of the Testing. There are only 20 openings at the University and over 150 Testing this year. Coming from her collaborative community, the 16-year-old thinks Dad is exaggerating, until another Testing candidate tries to poison her before the first exams begin!

The academic exams are hard, the practical and cooperative exams are harder, with more and more students failing each level. Phase 3 drops the remaining candidates into a city shattered by war, instructing them to return to Tosu City through hundreds of miles of disaster-blasted territory, equipped only with a few survival supplies and their wits. They can make alliances if they wish, but still only 20 will be allowed into the University... if that many survive.

Has Cia chosen the right equipment for the journey?
Can she locate Tomas near the drop-point?
Is she right to trust the boy she's known and loved all her life - or is her father right?

First in a series set in a future United States trying to rebuild itself after nuclear war and worldwide geologic shifts, The Testing asks whether being truly human is more than just surviving at any cost.

Recommended by: Katy Manck, Librarian-at-Large (retired academic/corporate/school librarian), Gilmer, Texas, USA – blogging young adult books beyond the bestsellers at http://BooksYALove.com

+++++

Fans of The Hunger Games finally have a new trilogy to whet their apetites! The Testing is fierce, ferocious, fantastic, and fascinating. Sixteen year old Malencia (Cia) Vale is chosen with four others from her community to attend The Testing. Candidates are whisked away to the capitol and will undergo Testing to see who will advance to the University and their chance to have professional jobs.

Cia's father went through the Testing and University years before and warns her to trust no one. He also tells her about terrible dreams--nightmares,  really--he has about the Testing. Although he never sees the whole dream; he sees bits and pieces-- a white room, a scream, burned out buildings, glass in the street, an explosion.  After candidates survive the Testing, their memories are wiped, but Cia's father still remembers that terrible things happened when he went throught the Testing.

Now Cia is on edge; not only because of her father's warning but because she knows she's never see her home and family again. Once Testing and University are completed, the Commonwealth selects where to send its graduates and Cia knows her  chances of  getting back to the Five Lakes Colony  are slim. During the trip to the Testing center, Cia gets closer to Tomas, a boy from her school.

The candidates are put through a series of grueling tests, all the time while  being monitored. Cia and Tomas pass their first tests and the group moves to the last test. This one requires that they be dropped miles away from the University into the wilderness where dangers lurk--wild animals and worse. The teens are allowed to choose three items to help them survive and find their way back to the University. Tomas and Cia agree to work together to stay alive, but Cia remembers her father's warning about trusting  no one.

This is not The Hunger Games. I was prepared not to love this book. I thought it would be very familiar territory: teens fighting each other for dominance. Only the strong and smart survive. Been there, done that. The Testing has much, much more. The tests are both for knowledge--history of the wars, the new government, mathematical equations, poisonous plants, chemistry, physics, and basic knowledge of simple machines--and  physical; the physical  test not only requires endurance, but Cia and Tomas must problem solve and make split second decisions while trying to stay alive. Eat the wrong plant, drink tainted water, get a cut or wound that gets infected, and not only is your Test over, you die.

The Testing is a wild rollar coaster ride--exciting and enthralling unfolding at a breakneck pace with taut suspense and clever pace.  Cia is a strong-willed competitor, smart, sly, and stubborn. She is the girl readers will want as their partner in The Testing.

The Testing is hopeful where The Hunger Games was dark. Cia and Tomas can better their world. In The Hunger Games, the capitol controlled what people did, where they lived, if they ate or if they starved. In The Testing, the Commonwealth  is rebuilding. There is electricity and pure water. The Testing is done to find the best, the brightest and the strongest who will help rebuild their world. That said, who knows what evil lurks behind the smiling faces of the Commonwealth?

Highly, highly recommended grade 7-up. This is for fans of The Hunger Games, and may be the next "big thing." The Testing: Independent Study comes out January 2014 and book three, Graduation Day is due June 2014.

336 pages  Ages 12 and up  978-0547959108

Recommended by:  Pamela Thompson, Librarian, Texas USA

See more of her recommendations:  http://booksbypamelathompson.blogspot.com/

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