Friday, May 31, 2013

Review: The Testing (The Testing, #1)


The Testing (The Testing, #1)Author: Joelle Charbonneau
Series: The Testing, #1
Release date: June 4th 2013
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin BfC
Hardcover, 336 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: The Book Depository

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.
It’s hard to review a book that made you feel nothing at all. I am an emotional reader, and although I sometimes make halfhearted attempts at objectivity, my reviews generally reflect my emotional reactions, just as it should be. But even though I raced through The Testing and found nothing wrong with it objectively speaking, it didn’t move me one way or the other. Sometimes, a seemingly flawless book can disappoint more than a severely flawed, yet heartfelt read.

Cia’s world is textbook dystopian; by which I mean that all the ingredients are there, almost as if Charbonneau followed a checklist: the wasteland, the ruins, the chemicals, the cruel, secretive government, imminent danger and mutated humans. Looking back, there were a few minor plot holes here and there, but nothing that couldn’t be overlooked if only the worldbulding seemed less artificial. As it was, I never felt excitement or dread, not even when Cia was running away from monsters through the city ruins.

The romance started wonderfully, but it soon became apparent that it was written to satisfy the readers. I know how reviewers think and what bothers most of us, and I have a feeling Charbonneau does too. For the most part, Cia and Tomas’s relationship was smooth sailing, but they settled into it so comfortably that they never really convinced me. When a problem did come up between them, it was done hastily and unconvincingly, only to be swept under the rug towards the end.

Cia has many great qualities – she is highly intelligent, resourceful and genuinely nice. Like the romance, she is exactly the type of protagonist that will satisfy most reviewers. She seems great in theory, but in reality she’s a bit plastic. All of the characters are underdeveloped, more archetypal then real, and several are taken directly from other books, with only the very basic information (like name and profession) changed.

Even with all the ingredients there, I was not convinced, mostly because The Testing lacks the most important thing of all – heart. It is pretty, but it has no warmth; functional, but fairly emotionless. If there was ever a book that was written solely to satisfy the market, that was perhaps even packaged, it’s this one.
In short, The Testing is the bastard child of The Hunger Games and Enclave, and as much as I love both those books, their illegitimate offspring holds no charm for me.


23 comments:

  1. I'm so sad to hear you didn't like The Testing. I loved it, and when I think about it Joelle Charbonneau did pick all ingredients I like most about dystopians and my heroes and mixed them in here. But I didn't feel like it was to please me, more like it was custom-made for me. :)
    I hope you enjoy your next book more!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I totally agree with you! Reviewing a book that made you feel nothing is one of the hardest things. You like the idea and everything but there are no emotions. It ruins everything for me. Great review Maja :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Eekk. I'm looking forward to read this one. It sounds promising. I love The Hunger Games and Enclave. But the unconvincing romance is not my thing. Thanks for another great review, Maja.

    -Dannielle

    ReplyDelete
  4. Gosh, I really do hate when books seem textbook-like and contrived to please the public. It's always the worst. Not to mention that flat characters and lack of connection always turn me off a book. Like you, I'm an emotional reader, so I'll be skipping this one for sure. Thanks for the helpful and honest review, Maja! :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. I haven't read The Enclave but I definitely saw the similarities between this and The Hunger Games. I am sorry you didn't like this one more.

    ReplyDelete
  6. When it comes to loving a book, I'm a feeler too. I need to feel emotions and connect with the characters to love the book and it's sad that none of this happened with you in this story. Hopefully your next read will be much better. Thanks for the review, Maja!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I've seen this book one other time, I can't remember where, but the fact that it didn't have any emotional connection is a bummer. I totally agree with being an emotional reader and the fact that it lacked it in most places is a disappointment. Awesome review!

    Janina @ Synchronized Reading

    ReplyDelete
  8. A book that doesn't make me feel much is pretty much a letdown for me-always. Thanks for the totally honest review Maja :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. I haven't read The Hunger Games or Enclave so I wonder if I'll maybe look at this one a little differently than you. I really like the sound of it and have a copy, but so far, like you, most people aren't too happy with it. Thanks for the honest review Maja

    ReplyDelete
  10. I always say I hate to cry, but that doesn't mean I want emotionless. I need that connection with heart! I don't think this one is for me, but I loved how you said it was the bastard child. Love your way with words!!

    ReplyDelete
  11. I agree that this had no heart, it felt like the author was checking things of a list. The similarities to Divergent and THG kind of ticked me of as well. The Testing just lacked originality IMO.

    Thanks for the honest review, Maja!

    ReplyDelete
  12. aww always hard to find a good dystopias these days. Sorry you didn't enjoy this one. I have to admit I am curious about it, thought it doesn't sound very original.. oh well

    ReplyDelete
  13. I've mostly been hearing so-so things about this one and I haven't had any urge to read it. But I am burnt out on this genre and it sounds like it doesn't really bring anything new to the table. I'm sorry it wasn't so great for you though, that really stinks.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I'm definitely an emotional reader too. I want to FEEL things about the characters and their situations, even if I don't physically cry. I'm sorry you didn't like this one though- the premise actually interests me but I haven't read much dystopian yet, as I've previously mentioned.

    As for the romance, I actually like couples that aren't perfect. I want them to fight, have problems. It's more realistic and adds a layer of interest to their relationship.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I read Ali's review I wasn't completly sold on this one. I am not looking for a retelling. I will definitely pass on this one. No bastard child books for me.

    ReplyDelete
  16. It sucks that The Testing didn't do justice. I totally know what you mean about being an emotional reader- I'm one too. I guess I'll have to lower my expectations.

    Stunning review, nonetheless, Maja! <33

    ReplyDelete
  17. Wow, this is getting reviews all over the place from 2 to screaming 5's...LOL. I have this, but really am in no rush to read it, and since I recently read 5th Wave I fear this will just be a disappointment. Great review!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Darn it! I have this one too, and now I don't want to waste my time! I usually rate my reads based on my emotional reaction to the story too, Maja so this is really disappointing. I'm really not in the mood for dystopian right now anyhow, so I'm going to wait a while to read this. I swear, Netgalley probably wants to choke me! :/

    ReplyDelete
  19. Maja, I'm back!!! It's such a shame you didn't enjoy this one at all. I've never heard of it before now but it doesn't seem like it would appeal to me at all. I hate when books seem to follow a 'checklist' and it's especially annoying when it's as if the author has written something in a certain way that will please readers because it can be a little obvious, I suppose.

    Thanks for the honest review, Maja and I hope the next book you pick up will be so amazing it leaves you utterly speechless!

    ReplyDelete
  20. I was never interested in this book to start but after mostly all negative reviews I think I'll definitely skip it. Just sounded like a way over dramatic SAT test.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I do love your final line! I agree that this book had no warmth. Sometimes I can continue reading even when I am hating something, even if the only reason to keep reading is to hate it some more. With The Testing, I felt absolutely nothing. I got to about the halfway mark before I decided to abandon it, and, for once, I didn't regret it. Sorry this didn't work for you any better.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Lol at the last line. It seems like all the books I get excited about don't live up to the hype :( I'll probably give this one a try just because I haven't read Enclave and only the first book in The Hunger Games series. Hopefully I won't think it's so textbookish dystopian.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I have started and stopped my ARC of this so many times I'm thinking of DNF'ing. I'm glad to hear I'm not alone in feeling this book is lacking something. Perhaps I can just take this line as my cue to go ahead and pass it up entirely "The Testing is the bastard child of The Hunger Games and Enclave, and as much as I love both those books, their illegitimate offspring holds no charm for me." That made me giggle! :-) Love this review, sorry you didn't love the book though!

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for stopping by and commenting. If you're a fellow blogger, I'll visit and return the favor as soon as possible. If your're using Google+ to comment, please make sure that your blog link is clearly visible on your profile.

Unfortunately, this is now an award and tag free blog, but I do thank you for your consideration.