Independent Study by Joelle Charbonneau (The Testing #2)
Published HMH Books 2014
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian
Format: Hardback from the library
This review will have spoilers for the first book in this series, The Testing! If you have not read that book, you can check out my review for it here.
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.
This book was a lot more original and unique than the first book, which got almost exactly like The Hunger Games at the end. Thankfully, the change in plot for this book let it become it’s own world and characters. It became more focused on the school aspect of the Testing as they progress through the next level which is a little bit more like college. The first scene of this book features a test on every topic (which for some reason Cia does super good at) and they are assigned ‘majors’ from there. Cia ends up in government, a total shock because she wanted to be in some engineering field. But no worries, she still does awesomely at government working.
Cia is a very annoying character, mostly because she is perfect EVERY SINGLE TIME. That is not an exaggeration. She even figures out when she is not supposed to find an answer. She is taking nine classes when everyone else is taking five, six, seven. Cia is promoted as the smartest of all, especially showed when they are each assigned an internship and she gets the best of them all. Her intelligence is never really explained as to why she knows so much. It would be okay if she had a weakness (problems with math or not understanding history or having social problems or something) but she doesn’t. She is smart but she is all around smart. Every problem they give the group she figures out and leads everyone with her. And it only takes her a page and a half to figure out the conspiracies behind their government. Sigh.
The plot thickens during this book as well. Because it is centered in the capital, Tosu City, everything gets a little more intense as everything is closer. Also in this part of the Testing are kids from Tosu City whose parent’s are often government officials and therefore think they are better than everyone else. Cia does find out some more things about how the Testing is run, but the whole book mostly felt like a setup for the finale in the next book. A couple more characters add to the plot, but it remains a very small group.
Overall, this book suffered a lot from being the second book in a trilogy. Most of the book was spent quickly unraveling (in a very confusing way) the government conspiracies so they could be solved in the third book. Cia’s character was still smart. However, it’s a very smart book in the way it is set up and it’s super fast paced.
I read this as part of the Booktube-A-Thon! If you don’t know what that is, check out this video here and join us!