The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau, review by Melissa Fox
If you're looking for a well-written, intense post-apocalyptic book in the vein of Hunger Games, Divergent, or The Maze Runner, then this book is absolutely perfect.
The world has been destroyed in what humans are calling the Seven Stages war: four stages in which the humans worked at destroying each other, and the three in which the earth "fought back". Cia Vale and her family are descendants of humans that managed to survive this horror. They live in the Five Lakes Colony, a small colony in what used to be Michigan, where they live simple lives, work on genetically modifying plants to get rid of contaminants and so they will grow in the damaged soil, and where Cia, age 16, dreams of going to the University in the capitol of the United Commonwealth,Tosu City (formerly known as Wichita).
This is not something her father -- who went through the intense testing process and University himself -- wants for her, but once Cia is selected, she must go to the Testing. To refuse is treason. It's only once she gets there that she realizes it's not competition to get into one of the twenty spots for University that made her father reluctant to send her to the Testing. it's the deadly nature of the tests themselves.
It takes a lot to write a unique post-apocalyptic/dystopian in this post-Hunger
Game YA market, but I think Charbonneau has succeeded. She's created a clever and intense premise, with compelling characters and multiple twists. And setting it squarely and recognizably in the Midwest, with Wichita as the country's capitol (instead of one of the larger cities), is an added bonus. But one of the best things about it -- at least for people who love to binge-read series -- is that the whole series is out, and no one has to
wait to find out What Happens Next.
I know I'm not waiting.