THE TESTING by Joelle Charboneau

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Pub date:  June 4th, 2013

The planet is decimated. The Seven Stages War has left little of civilization except some small scattered pockets of humanity. The world as we know it must be rebuilt by those left and the generations to come. The University will prepare those smart enough to attend, but first candidates must pass The Testing. It is the only chance left for a college education and a position in rebuilding society. However, The Testing is far more involved than the SAT and certainly more dangerous. When Cia is selected to attend, her father’s one piece of advice is to trust no one, suggesting that the test is far more sinister than the authorities have led people to believe.

Cia quickly discovers that the tests cover far more than basic knowledge from the class room. It evaluates her survival skills, thought processes, interpersonal evaluation skills, and every element of her life. As the tests become increasingly dangerous, Cia realizes there is more at stake than simply passing or failing. She soon forms an alliance with a boy she has grown up with and is beginning to fall in love with. However, with her father’s warning still echoing in her ears, can she ever fully trust him, and if she does, will that mean her failing the Testing and possibly her life?

The first of a trilogy, THE TESTING is young adult literature at its finest. Exhilarating, insightful, and at times terrifying, Charbonneau creates a book that will top all the teen reading lists of 2013. She creates a brilliant female lead, who is commanding yet emotional but in a way that doesn’t bog down the thrill-a-minute pacing of the story. Quick in thought and quick with a gun, Cia is the perfect modern heroine. The post-apocalyptic world that she lives in is so skin-crawlingly realistic you’ll feel afraid you will wake up to it the next morning. It is a brilliant novel that is the perfect start to a teen’s summer reading list. Though, I’m betting that more than a few parents will be drawn in after reading the first paragraph of this enthralling book.
-Bryan VanMeter