The Testing (Testing #1) by Joelle Charbonneau

I feel bad for any dystopian novel that comes out post Hunger Games; it has to be tough always being compared to one trilogy.  So although I was very excited to read The Testing based on other enthusiastic reviews, I wasn’t sure if it would just be the Hunger Games with a twist.  There was no reason to feel bad here!  Although there were some similarities (kids killing kids again, a love story) the author succeeded in making this book her own with a well-developed plot line and believable characters.  The story was riveting, not too much gratuitous violence, and not too many long drawn out love monologues.  Action, suspense, and a well-built alternate universe; yup, this one is a keeper.

In fact, the book was so entertaining that I read it in 3 hours in a night.  Which is no small feat knowing I get up at 5 AM with all of the kids and yet I continued to read until it was done.  And now I cannot wait until the sequel comes out in the fall, wohoo!

Bottomline:  If you loved The Hunger Games or Divergent, you will love this book.  It does have violence (not as bad as Hunger Games) and some romance so this would be for my more mature 5th graders.

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.

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