Book Review: The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau
The Testing, by Joelle Charbonneau was a recent read that I came across while searching through a library’s banned book collection. A couple chapters into the book, I could not figure out how in any way it had been banned. Then in a shocking turn of events, I found out exactly why. The main character of the book is Malencia Vale (Cia), a bright young student from Five Lakes Colony in the United States, years into the future. Due to her high test scores in school, she was chosen to participate in the Testing, a complex assessment composed of four parts. Those who passed would earn themselves a spot in the prestigious University. Cia cautiously approaches the testing, along with three other kids that have been chosen along with her from Five Lakes. Her first test, we find out, is not something that the test makers throw at her, but from her assigned roommate. Cia passes the test and survives, while her roommate ends up hanging herself. The first part of the Testing assesses Cia’s knowledge of math, history, and science- basic standard assessments. The second part turns dangerous, as the examinees are forced to distinguish between a pile of poisonous and non-poisonous plants. The catch is that they have to eat the ones that they deem non-poisonous. In the third round of the testing, Cia is put in a group filled with liars and cheaters and told to work together with them. In a stunning display of brilliance that is worthy of your time to understand, she outsmarts her competitors and moves on to the last part of the test. There, she is united with Thomas, a boy who came from Five Lakes and one that Cia also happens to have a crush on. Together, the two teenagers make the long journey to the finish line. The entire story was vivid and engaging, if a little grotesque at some points. It combines a Hunger Games-like atmosphere with a more science-based explanation. There are secrets at every turn that make you want to continue to keep on reading. It is clearly written, and the plot is not too confusing so the book flows nicely. The suspense and surprise is constant - there are almost no dull moments in the book. If there is ever a time where you need a page turner to pass the time, this is the way to go.