The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

ImageThe Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

Series: The Testing #1

Published by Houghton Miffin Books for Children on June 4, 2013

Pages: 336

Format: Hardcover

Source: BEA

Rating: 2.5 stars

Generic Hunger Games ripoff.

Honestly I wish other authors could come up with their own ideas sometimes instead of just copying Suzanne Collins.

So I will point out to you all of the obvious copying from the Hunger Games and then rag on the characters for a while. This book actually wasn’t that bad, but it certainly wasn’t amazing, or even as good as the Hunger Games, which I only gave four stars.

Similarities between The Testing and The Hunger Games:

1. Dystopian Future with different Colonies/Districts, scary evil mutants, a competition where life is not valued, half-downgraded technology/half-upgraded technology, blah blah blah. Textbook dystopian YA.

2. Boy and Girl (Katniss and Peeta, Cia and Tomas) knew each other at home and then are thrust together by the above competition. Boy gets injured and girl treats him as best as she can, but boy needs medical attention. They end up falling in love, but it turns out that boy was in love with girl at home.

3. They are carried to the said competition in a futuristic train/ hover craft.

4. Cameras/Audio recording devices are around them all the time, so boy and girl never have privacy.

5. The man who helps girl prepare for the competition is friendly, against the competition, and wants girl to make it out alive (Cinna and Michal)

As you can see, it basically copied straight out of the Hunger Games with some name changes and a slightly different plot, but that wasn’t what turned me off the most. If this book was actually good, I wouldn’t mind that it copied the Hunger Games. However, the plot was sketchy, the characters were shallow, and it spent every waking minute telling us how important preserving the environment is. I didn’t read this book for a mini-lecture on environmentalism.

First of all, I didn’t really get the point of the Testing. I understood why they would want to narrow down the number of people eligible for the University, but why couldn’t they just leave it at 108? More leaders = a better country, so why would they want a class of 20 or less? And how does killing the other contestants help anyone? If someone didn’t pass why weren’t they just mind-wiped and sent home? The idea was decent but I could have used some explanations.

Second, The characters were bland. And by bland I mean like oatmeal. Plain oatmeal. I found none of them to be exceptional or exciting, especially Cia and Tomas. Cia in particular was very fake. She was smart, sweet, and humble, but she didn’t seem human at times. She was the perfect main character, flawless, and that’s why I didn’t like her. Tomas was basically the same person as Cia, but in male form, so I guess that’s why they fell in typical YA “insta-love”. The romance was thrown in there to satisfy the readers, but none of it seemed genuine. They barely knew each other and then the next thing you know Tomas is off making confessions of love to Cia. I’m just a little sick of it.

I am trying really hard right now to think of a character that seemed like a little less of a cardboard cutout, but I can’t think of one. Even the evil characters were dull.

So, in conclusion, this book was just like its characters, bland, dull, oatmealy. Nothing really sticks out to me that is exceptional about this book, although I’m sure that if you loved the Hunger Games, you’ll like this one. ~The Red Queen


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