The Testing, The Grisha, and The End

girl with book rageTwo YA trilogies come to a conclusion today, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed. With the exception of Kiera Cass’s The One, book threes have been more than a little disappointing lately.

Graduation Day is the final installment of Joelle Charbonneau’s dystopian series that began with The Testing. Judging from the reviews it’s getting, Ms. Charbonneau has managed to make readers happy while avoiding a too-perfect ending.

Ruin and Rising, the final book in Leigh Bardugo’s fantasy trilogy, also hits bookstore shelves today. The Grisha trilogy began with Shadow and Bone, a book I thoroughly enjoyed. I can recommend it in good conscience because the advance reviews for Ruin and Rising point to a satisfying series conclusion, not one that will make you want to shred all three books when you’re done. Good thing, too, since I gave in to the urge to pre-order a special edition copy from Barnes & Noble. I’d rather not shred it.

Have you been disappointed with any series finales lately?

©2014 Kim Vandel

Movie Updates from Dystopia

Maze on abstract screenThe news has been disappointing lately for fans of YA dystopian novels, at least when it comes to TV adaptations. When it comes to the big screen, however, the news is much better. Four bestsellers hit movie theaters in 2014.

  • Divergent (Veronica Roth): March 21
  • The Giver (Lois Lowry): August 15
  • The Maze Runner (James Dashner): September 19
  • Mockingjay Part 1 (Suzanne Collins): November 21

There are sequels to come, and an adaptation of Joelle Charbonneau’s The Testing is also in the works for 2015, so dystopian fans should be in good shape for a while.

Have you heard of any other YA dystopian novels being turned into a movie?

©2014 Kim Vandel

Book Review: The Testing

Abstract metal lightning background.I still remember the stress of taking the SAT, of getting up early on Saturday morning and spending the day at a cold, unforgiving desk surrounded by other stressed out teenagers. It felt like the rest of our lives depended on how we answered those questions. Sound familiar? Well, imagine that your life really did depend on how you answered.

Sixteen-year-old Cia Vale has dreamed of being one of the select few chosen for The Testing. Only the best students are given the chance to participate and prove they’re worthy of attending the University. Graduates of the University are the future leaders of the United Commonwealth. They’re the hope for an Earth ravaged by the Seven Stages War.

Cia’s dream comes true when she’s chosen for The Testing and she receives her identification bracelet. Surely the star and lightning symbols engraved on the metal represent the bright future ahead of her. But her bracelet soon feels like a shackle when Cia realizes The Testing is more than questions about history or science. It’s survival of the fittest.

Giving the wrong answer can have deadly consequences, and it’s not just exam questions Cia has to worry about. She has to be careful about which of the Testing candidates she trusts. Only twenty candidates will be accepted to the University, and the United Commonwealth only wants the strongest.

The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau is a quick-paced, engaging read. It feels enough like The Hunger Games that it will appeal to THG fans, but The Testing is definitely its own story. (Some reviewers think it’s a rip-off of The Hunger Games, but I disagree.)

If you wanted a Hunger Games comparison, I’d say that Cia won’t be forever etched in your memory the way Katniss is, but Cia is a warmer, more relatable character. Katniss is pragmatic while Cia views the world with more optimism, believing change is possible, and she relies on ingenuity and problem-solving rather than survival skills. She’s a good balance between compassionate and cautious. Cia wants to think the best of others but she’s not so gullible that she doesn’t question their behavior.

A short story prequel titled The Testing Guide is available, and the second book in The Testing Trilogy—Independent Study—is scheduled for release in January 2014.

©2013 Kim Vandel