is a hard book to rate.
On the one hand, this is the
most copycat getting-on-the-YA-dystopia-bandwagon book I've read yet, and since The Hunger Games I've read quite a few dystopian YA books that didn't exactly shine with originality or logic. I mean, The Testing basically is
The Hunger Games, with names replaced and the world making even less sense, with a pinch of Divergent thrown in for kicks, plus some other ideas happily borrowed from here and there.
Also, it made no sense. I'm sort of hoping, weakly, that maybe something will get explained in future books (although I'm not holding out much hope) because really, truly, so many things did not make sense in this book.
Some of it, especially towards the beginning, was just pathetically bad writing, I suspect (e.g. that bit in the beginning about how it's hard for Cia's brothers to find girlfriends because of where they live, i.e. on the outskirts of their colony, and then casually mentioning a couple of pages later that they move to a new place about every year or so, plus that they had a house that was roomy by their colony standards, and, oh, that minor detail that with the green thumb all the men in her family had, they'd never go hungry; or going on about how Daileen has such a hard time making new friends and will be all friendless now that Cia's gone, when it's not as if Daileen would even have to make new friends, what with staying in the same class with the same kids she's known for ten years)
Some of it was just ... well, I'm going to say bad writing while hoping we'll find out more about it in the future. Because, honestly? What kind of idiots are ruling this post-apocalyptic country if they think it's a great idea to routinely kill off about 80% of the absolute best and brightest of their struggling country's youth every year? Okay, leadership tests, whatever - if I try really really hard, I can sort of see the reasoning for that. But, um, you need your best and brightest for more than just leadership, you know? You need those future scientists, doctors, botanists, mechanics? Not all of them would ever have wanted to become leaders - what your ravaged country needs is useful, smart, resourceful, intelligent people, and you don't get that if you kill off 80% of every year's most talented, brightest kids.
Okay, to be fair, at least the question was asked in the book. And then kind of ... left at that. I mean, even if Cia's vague guess about the failed candidates getting their memories removed but surviving somewhere was right, there was still a huge amount of kids getting randomly killed off left and right that we have no doubts about.
Also, does no one in this world ever ask about all those missing kids? Okay, so they all get moved to other colonies, but have no families of "failed" (dead) candidates ever wondered why their kids never get in touch again? Urgh.
On the other hand ... in spite of all the above, this was a very readable book. It sucked me in, and then it got exciting, and I wanted to know what would happen next. And while I was ranting and raving at the book and the characters about their stupidity, I still want to know what happens next in this world.
* ARC of this book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley. Thanks!