4 Rabbles with an R for good storytelling
It’s graduation day for sixteen-year-old Malencia Vale, and the entire Five Lakes Colony (the former Great Lakes) is celebrating. All Cia can think about—hope for—is whether she’ll be chosen for The Testing, a United Commonwealth program that selects the best and brightest new graduates to become possible leaders of the slowly revitalizing post-war civilization. When Cia is chosen, her father finally tells her about his own nightmarish half-memories of The Testing. Armed with his dire warnings (”Cia, trust no one”), she bravely heads off to Tosu City, far away from friends and family, perhaps forever. Danger, romance—and sheer terror—await.
Only a few pages into the reading of this book and I thought that I was reading the script for "The Hunger Games". It bears striking resemblance to that now famous series. I have yet to read "The Hunger Games" but I have seen the movies and I was astonished at the similarities. Once past the shock, however, I buckled down and began to enjoy the story.
The further I went into this book the more I liked it. Although the basic plot is close to "The Hunger Games", "The Testing" storyline takes it's own twists and turns. I cannot say anything for the originality but as a story it is very well done. Our hero Cia, differs from the Katniss character of "The Hunger Games". She is somewhat more thoughtful, very much human, and less inclined to violence. This is where the differences between these two stories is most evident, the development of the heroine character. In "The Testing" our hero is sent on her journey not for some sadistic entertainment but to weed out the weak and find the best and the brightest for entrance into "University", there to be taught and groomed for future leadership in the colony structure.
Though the basic plot line of "The Testing" and "The Hunger Games" and many other YA books ("The Maze Runner" also comes to mind), Joelle Charbonneau has created what turns out to be a very good story that can stand on its own. I also have to remember that for those of us in the 21st century to say almost any hero journey story is original is itself a falsehood. We have been copying the Greek and Roman storytellers for centuries. Lucky for us they didn't invent copyrighting!
The Reading Rabble will very much enjoy this book. It's easy to read and, quite frankly, I couldn't put it down. It was so addictive. Reluctant Readers will find this one easy to get into! Especially those of you who have read "The Hunger Games" or seen the movies like I have. I almost took away points for what I at first saw as a lack of originality, but with the progression of the story it takes to its own place as a good work of dystopian YA fiction.