You know me, inevitably a couple spoilers will make their way into this review. So, if you don't want any spoilers, wait to read this review. Otherwise: Enjoy.
The Testing, by author Joelle Charbonneau, takes place in dystopian US, now converted into 14 districts (oops, I mean Colonies.) Outside of each colony, the land is barren and broken. The government, based in Tosu City, has developed a system called the Testing, in which they take the smartest candidates from each colony and test them to determine who should go on to receive a University education. Each candidate is put through a series of written tests, a puzzle test with other candidates, and a test in which they are thrown into an arena - oops, I mean open landscape leading back to Tosu City - where they must fight the remaining candidates in a race for survival.
Cia Vale, a resident of the Five Lakes Colony, has hopes of being part of the Testing. She succeeds, becoming one of four people from her colony to go on to the testing. There is no guarantee that her family will see her again. She and her classmates are carted of to Tosu city to undergo a life altering event that is dotted with mutated animals, hover ships, tracking devices, and murderous classmates.
Does any of this sound familiar? It should - because this book is basically just a ripoff of Suzanne Collins The Hunger Games. The only difference is that this book has more "testing" prior to going into the arena - I mean, barren wasteland.
In this book, the Five Lakes colony has not had a testing candidate in years (just as District 12 in THG did not have a winner for many years.) Then Peeta and Katniss - I mean Cia and Tomas - come along, and suddenly Five Lakes Colony has hope. They have a chance to gain more attention, to send off their students to be tested, to go to university, to help save a failing country.
Cia and Tomas, as well as two other candidates from their colony, get sent to the testing arena, and put through the first test with the 106 other candidates. After the first round, there are less than 100 candidates left, and suicide, murder, and more failing grades in the next two rounds leave just over 50 candidates to pass the arena test. Before going into the final test, each candidate can choose three weapons to bring with them. They are then launched into the testing area from an underground location (sound familiar?) They are told to form alliances with at least one other candidate, but are also told not to trust anyone.
During their almost month in the arena Tomas and Cia fall in love, meet and kill other candidates, get injured, meet mutated animals, and almost die from hunger and dehydration. They finally make it back to Tosu city and 20 of the 24 remaining candidates get chosen to go on to university.
This book was well written, but too much of a familiarity with The Hunger games for me to really get into it. I would have loved the book a lot more had it been more original and unique. The fighting in the arena, the mutated animals, almost dying from dehydration, the betrayal from others - it was all just too much of a retelling of the Hunger Games, that I can't really give it more than 2 or 3 stars. In addition to the similarities, there was also the paltry love story between Cia and Tomas. It was flat at best, and seemed to only exist because the author felt like it should be there. Not all stories have to have a love aspect to them.
If you like stories that are similar to The Hunger Games, go ahead and give this a shot. Otherwise, move on to something more original.