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The Testing

The Testing - Joelle Charbonneau Very rarely for me do hyped books end up being worth the attention in my eyes, but each time one flies into the attention of bloggerkind, I find myself dying for it ever so slightly. Each time, I can feel my heartstrings yearning to experience something worthy of hundreds of thousands of dollars (or more) in author advances, marketing expenses, printing costs, film options, and so on with the expectation that this book will be the next big thing that will be on the lips of every person around the world.In the past few months, it has been hard to go without hearing about THE TESTING by Joelle Charbonneau, book one in a new young adult dystopian/sci-fi series coming out soon. After reading reviews and speaking with people about it, I decided that it was a book that I HAD to read.Well, sadly to say, the hype on this one was right about one thing – it definitely is for fans of THE HUNGER GAMES, because it basically is THE HUNGER GAMES except fighting for a spot in college versus living. Although kids do die at the hands of other kids.THE NEXT HUNGER GAMES? EH…One of the big selling/pitching points of THE TESTING has been its appeal to fans of THE HUNGER GAMES. I can definitely see where this is coming from, and it is apt. But maybe this is because it basically is THE HUNGER GAMES all over again. It follows Cia, a girl from a forgotten, lamentable rural colony in the ruins of post-apocalyptic America, who is chosen for The Testing, a once-annual event where the best and brightest are taken to the capital of Tosu City to see who has what it takes to go to the University and become a leader. Along the ride with her is Tomas, a generic love interest, and some people who may or may not be there to stab her in the back. Sometimes literally.THE TESTING faltered from early on, when the comparisons with THE HUNGER GAMES became full on parallels. Girl wants to save her family, girl meets bland boy who becomes her love interest (I’m Team Katniss Should Have Been Single), girl stands up to limp noodle dystopian government, girl goes into an arena and fights her way through traps and mazes and even kills another kid trying to kill her…Trust me, this is THE book of the summer to read if you are a big HUNGER GAMES fan not afraid to read the same material. But otherwise, you might feel a bit bored.ACTION, EXCITEMENT, DRAMA!I will give THE TESTING one thing that sets it above many recent young adult books. It has a TON of action, drama, suspense, thrills, chills, and spills. This book rarely has a dull moment except for a somewhat plodding beginning. The problem was that I feel like I’ve read it all before, and read it better. Books like THE HUNGER GAMES and DIVERGENT and THE GIVER even have come first and set up a high bar for success, creativity, and so on. DIVERGENT for me did not accomplish this, but for millions of people it must have.THE TESTING has the prerequisites needed for success – a strong heroine, a love interest that has no real offending qualities, an action-packed premise, and a great hook. Where it failed for me was its inability to move away from the same old same old. I just wish there had been more there that had left it standing out.However… There is always a however, isn’t there? I’m interested in reading the sequel. By the end, I was once again hooked. I might borrow a copy of INDEPENDENT STUDY to see if this trilogy might just be able to turn it around. I’m hopeful based on that last chapter. Very hopeful, actually.VERDICT: THE TESTING might just be another clone of THE HUNGER GAMES, but there is a flicker of hope at the end that leaves me open to reading book two. We shall see.