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.

Review: Gated by Amy Christine Parker

Book Title: Gated
Author: Amy Christine Parker
Published Date: August 6th, 2013
Published By: Random House Books for Young Readers
Genre: YA/Mystery
Book Link: Goodreads
Purchase Link: AmazonBarnes & Noble
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Do the gates keep the unchosen out or the chosen in?

In Mandrodage Meadows, life seems perfect. The members of this isolated suburban community have thrived under Pioneer, the charismatic leader who saved them from their sad, damaged lives. Lyla Hamilton and her parents are original members of the flock. They moved here following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, looking to escape the evil in the world. Now seventeen, Lyla knows certain facts are not to be questioned:

Pioneer is her leader.

Will is her Intended.

The end of the world is near.

Like Noah before him, Pioneer has been told of the imminent destruction of humanity. He says his chosen must arm themselves to fight off the unchosen people, who will surely seek refuge in the compound’s underground fortress–the Silo.

Lyla loves her family and friends, but given the choice, she prefers painting to target practice. And lately she’d rather think about a certain boy outside the compound than plan for married life in the Silo with Will. But with the end of days drawing near, she will have to pick up a gun, take a side, and let everyone know where she stands.

Disclaimer: This book was a personal purchase.

I have always had such a fascination with cults. The idea that one person is a leader and he has followers,in this case called his flock,is so interesting to me. The idea that these people so blindly follow him without even questioning him at all is simply mind boggling to me. These people in these cults are essentially brainwashed much like the followers of major cult leader Warren Jeffs, were. 

These cults seem to recruit certain types of people. People who have experienced significant heartache,like the death of a child or the death of a parent.Or even people who are poor or unmarried. Those types of people are the ones least likely to question the leader, in this case his name was Pioneer. The cults tend to stray away from recruiting people who are more confident and strong minded.

Lyla’s family experienced a nightmare when her sister Karen disappeared ten years earlier when Lyla was only 5. 2 years later Pioneer recruited Lyla and her parents to be the beginnings of his flock that would reside in the Community.Ten years later Lyla remembers little of her old life as she has assimilated into her life in the Community.Will is her future husband, no one questions that. They have been intended for each other since Lyla was fourteen years old.

Yet this isn’t your typical cult as it is not driven by religion.It is what is known as a doomsday cult. Pioneer believes that the end of the world is near and he is making sure that once it does end, the entire Community can live in the Silo where they will be safe. But a chance meeting between Lyla and an Outsider by the name of Cody, threatens to unearth everything that Lyla has held dear to her. Suddenly the quiet Lyla is questioning everything about the Community and about Pioneer. That way of thinking could cost her, her life as well as the lives of those she loves.

The last third of the book is so heartbreaking and I had tissues in my hands during the ending of it. By the end of the book, my tissues were in shreds and my eyes were red and puffy. Amy Christine Parker did an amazing job with this book.I will definitely buy anything else she writes as this was a spectacular debut. 5 stars to this compelling, riveting and heartbreaking book that broke the formula of books about cults.