Review: Independent Study by Joelle Charbonneau

Written By: Kellie - Mar• 09•14

independent study

Series: The Testing, #2
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Publish Date: January 7th, 2014
Source: ARC

Rating: 4/5 – Surprise, surprise! Even better than the first one!

About the bookIn 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. – Goodreads

Thoughts: Independent Study is book two of The Testing trilogy, which I’ve heard hailed as the next Hunger Games on more than one occasion. While I definitely wouldn’t go quite that far with my praise, I’m really enjoying this series and can’t wait to see how it concludes.

After the events of book one Cia has had most of her memories erased. She doesn’t remember the testing process she went through, the friends she lost or the things she has had to do. All she was able to salvage is a recording device filled with whispers alluding to some pretty horrible things. In the time between books one and two, she mostly tries to ignore it as she goes through the pre-University courses she’s been assigned to but always looking for clues about what might be true and how much danger she’s really in.

This is one of those books that I really can’t go too far into explaining without giving away too much of the plot. I will say that the title references an internship and Cia gets the best of the best which puts her in a great position to learn more about what’s really going on around her and to get a better feel for the political landscape of the world she lives in. I can’t get enough of dystopian books that actually let you see the political side of things—why people are doing these horrible things, the challenges people have to deal with, general political intrigue. All that fun stuff.

I also really enjoyed Cia’s personal arc through this book. It’s easy to see how she’s growing and changing and how she gets through the moments where she feels like she should just give up or keep her head down. She’s not a superhuman, super problem solving, superhero. She’s a girl who is trying to create a future for herself and the people she loves. She’s also willing to accept help along the way which is a big bonus. Got to love a plot that is actually complex enough to require more than one teenager to try and fix things.

If you enjoyed book one then have no fear, you can expect a similar ride with the second book in this series, and then some.

Purchase Independent Study
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