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The Testing



Publication Information:
Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, ©2013.
Physical Description:
344 pages ; 22 cm.
Series title(s):
Number in series:
bk. 1.
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 and 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.
Reading Level:
Young Adult.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader 5.6.


Call Number
TEEN FICTION Charbonneau, J.
TEEN FICTION Charbonneau, J.

On Order



It's graduation day for sixteen-year-old Malencia Vale, and the entire Five Lakes Colony (the former Great Lakes) is celebrating. All Cia can think about--hope for--is whether she'll be chosen for The Testing, a United Commonwealth program that selects the best and brightest new graduates to become possible leaders of the slowly revitalizing post-war civilization. When Cia is chosen, her father finally tells her about his own nightmarish half-memories of The Testing. Armed with his dire warnings ("Cia, trust no one"), she bravely heads off to Tosu City, far away from friends and family, perhaps forever. Danger, romance--and sheer terror--await.

Author Notes

Joelle Charbonneau received a bachelor's degree in vocal performance from Millikin University and a master's degree in opera performance from DePaul University. She performed as an opera singer around the Chicago area. She currently works as an acting and vocal coach. She is the author of the Rebecca Robbins Mysteries series, a Glee Club Mystery series, and theTesting series.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 5

School Library Journal Review

Gr 8 Up-With the echoes of "Happy Graduation Day" still in her ears, 16-year-old Cia Vale tries to swallow her disappointment when she is not selected as a Testing candidate, which means she will probably spend the rest of her days in rural Five Lakes Colony, where she and her four older brothers grew up. Cia's dad was a Testing candidate, but his memories of the experience were erased, returning only in occasional nightmares. It's not that Cia doesn't like her farming community. She appreciates that they are dedicated to restoring fertility to the land after the Seven Stages of War and making better use of resources for the good of the United Commonwealth. But Testing meant a chance for greater things, starting with attending the University in Tosu City. Suddenly, Cia and three classmates receive word that they have been selected. From this point on, the first title (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013) in a projected dystopian trilogy by Charbonneau is a detailed chronicle of the various tests, from psychological to physically exhausting. The influence of Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games (Scholastic) is obvious, as some candidates go to deadly lengths to gain an advantage, while others show more kindness. Cia teams up with Tomas, and they find their mutual crush is turning to love. Narrator Elizabeth Morton uses an earnest and measured tone for Cia, which suits her no-nonsense personality, although it slows down the pacing a bit. She also interjects accents ranging from Valley Girl to almost mechanical when the officials recite lists of rules to be followed. Fans of The Hunger Games will enjoy every sly twist and careful detail of the story. A free prequel that adds even more enjoyment to the book is available online at http://ow.ly/nSKC8.-Maggie Knapp, Trinity Valley School, Fort Worth, TX (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

Making the jump from adult mysteries to YA, Charbonneau (the Rebecca Robbins series) launches a dystopian trilogy reminiscent of the Hunger Games. Cia Vale is one of four teens chosen to represent her small colony at the annual Testing, an intensive mental and physical examination aimed at identifying the best and brightest, who will go on to the University and help rebuild their shattered world. Forewarned not to trust anyone, Cia nonetheless forms a tentative partnership with resourceful Tomas, with whom she shares an unexpected emotional connection. As the Testing pushes its candidates to the breaking point and beyond, the body count rises, forcing Cia and her friends to fight for survival. The rising tension, skillfully executed scenarios, and rich characterizations all contribute to an exciting story bound to capture readers' imaginations. However, it's the last-minute revelations, a cliffhanger laden with potential, and the intriguing status quo of Cia's world that will bring readers back for the next installment. Charbonneau works action, romance, intrigue, and a plausible dystopian premise into a near-flawless narrative. Ages 12-up. Agent: Stacia Decker, Donald Maass Literary Agency. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Horn Book Review

Cia is honored to have been selected for The Testing. She can't imagine anything she wants more than to pass the mysterious tests and be permitted to attend University so that she can become one of the elite few helping to rebuild the world after the Seven Stages War. Her dad's ominous warning to trust no one, delivered at the last minute, shakes up her firm convictions, however, and she sets off for her Testing wondering whether she will even survive. Her fears turn out to be valid, as cheating, ruthless power-grabs, and even murder seem to be as much part of the tests as physical agility, intelligence, and creativity. Along the way, Cia falls in love, struggles to define friendship versus alliances, and tries to keep a core of decency. A lightning pace and a vividly described setting compensate for occasional dialogue that feels like exposition rather than actual conversation. The plot twists (and there are quite a few) are well integrated and will keep readers on edge awaiting the next volume in this projected trilogy. april spisak (c) Copyright 2013. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

There are no grades in this dystopian futureonly survival. It's graduation day for 16-year-old Malencia "Cia" Vale, and she's hoping to be selected for The Testing in Tosu City, a necessary prerequisite to attend the University. She is, along with three other Five Lakes colony teens. Embarking on the four-part series of challenges, Cia will learn whom to trust, even as she falls in love with Tomas, one of her fellow Five Lakes colonists. Cia must pass multiple-choice exams, hands-on survival tests and team challenges before facing the final testa wilderness trek back to the University to prove her abilities as a leader. With a gun, compass and water in her bag, Cia will trek from the ruins of Chicago back to Tosu City, depending on her wits and her trust in Tomas. Charbonneau jumps into the packed dystopia field with a mashup of Veronica Roth's Divergent (2011) and Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games trilogy, but she successfully makes her story her own. Cia's mechanical abilities are an unexpected boon to the overall character development, and it's refreshing not to have a female protagonist caught up in a love triangle. There's a nicely developed relationship between Cia and Tomas and genuine suspense surrounding another candidate's motivations and intentions. Between the ruined world and the mutants, there's plenty of threats to keep the pages turning. Though genre elements are in place, this page-turner earns an A for freshness. (Dystopian adventure. 12 up)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

Mystery writer Charbonneau throws her hat into the YA dystopian ring with this series opener that bears more than a slight resemblance to The Hunger Games. Sixteen-year-old newly graduated Cia Vale is selected to take part in The Testing, a process that offers the only chance at a college education and training to become part of the next generation of leaders. Cia has spent years preparing for this it's her chance to help the United Commonwealth recover from the devastating Seven Stages War. Cia's father, who took part in The Testing himself, warns her to trust no one. Charbonneau is treading familiar ground as she sets her young heroine against a government machine that is focused, brutal, and duplicitous. Though the story moves quickly, readers might be confused as to the reasons behind the government's methods. Why the brutality against students? There is no indication that the citizens are oppressed, and they're unaware of how gruesome The Testing is. The ending will ensure interest in the next installment, but hopefully book two will deliver some answers.--Dean, Kara Copyright 2010 Booklist