Review: Independent Study (The Testing #2) by Joelle Charbonneau

Book Title: Independent Study (The Testing #2)
Author: Joelle Charbonneau
Published Date: January 7th, 2014
Publisher: HMH Books For Young Readers
Genre: YA/Dystopian
Series: Book 2 in The Testing trilogy (My review for The Testing is here)
Book Link: Goodreads
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.

Disclaimer: I got this book from ARCycling.

I really enjoyed the first book of the trilogy so I was excited to get my hands on a copy of the second book in the series. The excitement didn’t last long though and I spent a good chunk of the book, bored out of my mind.

It wasn’t realistic. Cia was supposedly able to handle 9 classes plus an internship and be able to run around campus and still manage to ace her assignments and do well in her internship? Please! I wanted to see her fail only because I wanted to see how she would handle that. Yet they don’t show that. She goes through the entire book, at the top of her class and not getting caught when she sneaks around looking for answers. It was too convenient and unlike in The Testing, I really didn’t like her. She had this I’m-better-than-anyone-else attitude which made me really annoyed and pissed off.

I still don’t like Tomas and honestly I didn’t really like anyone in this book outside of Raffe. I found the characters to be very bland and definitely underdeveloped. I was hoping for more character development and I didn’t get that.The world-building was also lacking significantly and that made it very difficult for me to be able to visualize everything.The world-building was decent in the first book, but it definitely took a nosedive in the second book.

There was no action in it, which really sucks because in books in this genre, there’s got to be some action in order for it to be good and compelling. Without action, this book was nothing more than a fictional political book.

This book suffered the infamous “Sophomore Slump” It was boring, uninteresting and it was a book that I could not wait to finish so I could put it behind me and move on to a better, more interesting book. This book will be getting 2 stars. I am not sure I’ll read the final book in the trilogy.

Review: The Testing (The Testing #1) by Joelle Charbonneau

Book Title: The Testing (The Testing #1)
Author: Joelle Charbonneau
Published Date: June 4th, 2013
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Genre: YA/Dystopian
Series: Book 1 in The Testing series
Book Link: Goodreads
Purchase Link: AmazonBarnes & Noble
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.

Disclaimer: I won this book from Popcorn Reads.

This book was very similar to The Hunger Games, which I loved. I had no idea how similar they would be until I started reading this book.Nowadays it’s very hard to have a dystopian book not be similar to another dystopian book.However The Testing ended up being much more sinister than I would have ever realized. No the Commonwealth was not was creepy as Panem nor was the world building as good as it was in The Hunger Games.

However I loved Malencia “Cia” Vale. Absolutely loved her. She was a dream heroine. She had empathy and sympathy but she also was a fighter.She was prepared to protect her family at all costs. She didn’t get all moony over a guy either. Yes Tomas clearly was into her from the beginning and yes she was attracted to him too, but she never let that interfere with what she was trying to do.

Like the Hunger Games there was a love triangle hinted at. Yes people may disagree with me on that,but it was clear to me that Will is supposed to be the “Peeta” in this series. And much like The Hunger Games trilogy, I am rooting for Will and Cia to get together. I didn’t feel anything between Cia and Tomas except friendship. I don’t really trust Tomas either. Not after what Cia discovers near the end of this book. Cia may have spilled all of her secrets to Tomas, but Tomas did not afford her the same courtesy. Not by a longshot.

Like I said previously, the world building was not as good in this one as it was in The Hunger Games,but it definitely wasn’t terrible either.Add that to my dislike of Tomas and not buying him and Cia together, this book gets 4 stars.I am so excited to see what happens in the next book.