Monday, January 27, 2014
Independent Study by Joelle Charbonneau
"In the series debut The Testing, sixteen-year-old Cia Vale was chosen by the United Commonwealth government as one of the best and brightest graduates of all the colonies . . . a promising leader in the effort to revitalize postwar civilization. In Independent Study, Cia is a freshman at the University in Tosu City with her hometown sweetheart, Tomas—and though the government has tried to erase her memory of the brutal horrors of The Testing, Cia remembers. Her attempts to expose the ugly truth behind the government’s murderous programs put her—and her loved ones—in a world of danger. But the future of the Commonwealth depends on her." (Description from Goodreads.com)
I first picked up The Testing after the book buyer of our local library recommended it to me since I was such a fan of the Hunger Games. While these kids aren't picked from a bowl of names and sent to a battle of death in the middle of no-where, there is a similar setup to the books. The world as we know it has ended and the society they now live in after is what they call the 7 wars. These aren't your typical wars. First was the usual, bombs and mad men destroying everything around them. But then the earth starts fighting back and you get the rest of the wars that were raged on human society. The story is crazy fast paced and filled with non-stop action. Life and death are in a constant balance. There's a little love story in there as well and at the end, memories are wiped.
So, that was the Testing. This review is on Independent Study, the second in the series. While the book did feel like a middle book. I know that's a pretty general statement to make. It's like the hump in the week. You get more back story and the story is pushed further to set up the final in the series. Sometimes, I feel publishers make it a three book series for no reason when it could have been just two. And that was my feeling for pretty much 70% of this book. I think my thinking for the first part was, "Man, can't you give Cia just a little break AND we need more Tomas!" Then the last 30% happened and I was like, "Oh...wow...no you didn't!"
What I really loved about the book was Cia's effort to work with others and her general smarts. That trust of her own instincts and to keep her values in mind when making decisions. In YA and even Fiction, you don't see enough female characters trusting their natural instinct enough. I loved how Cia did and it was almost always right. At one point she thinks, "I was raised to treasure life." That thinking is reflected throughout the book and you could really feel her values shine through with that.
The ending was not what I expected at all. It was a from left field moment. I'm very interested to see how they move forward what happened in the end with the third book. So as I say from other reviews, don't skip ahead to the last 20% of the book. You absolutely don't want to ruin the curve ball we're sent!
Finally, I did feel like needed I needed a glossary of who's who from The Testing. So, I would recommend re-reading book one before diving into Independent Study. If you haven't read The Testing, it's a must to read book one first.
I would recommend this book to those who love a good YA and the world has ended and started anew story. I would hate to compare it to the Hunger Games but if you were a fan of that book, you'll most likely like The Testing as well.
This is a I would give to my little girl when she gets older to say, "see how you can be smart, pretty, and awesome all at the same time." And of course followed with, "science and math are super cool. Life saving too by this books reference."
Make sure to stop by your local library to get your copy of The Testing and Independent Study. Both books are available at the usual stops and independent bookstores as well.
Posted by Carolyn Borgen