Monday, December 30, 2013

Book Review: Independent Study, by Joelle Charbonneau @jcharbonneau

I am just as fascinated by Independent Study as I was by The Testing. Charbonneau continues to put these teens to the test in an interesting and creative dystopian world.

Our main character, Cia, is at the university and finishing up her first year by taking a test that will indicate which of the five areas will become her life's career. Cia really enjoys science, and hopes to be chosen for Mechanical Engineering. Her least favorite choice is Government. So of course she gets Government. At least she didn't fail the text, because those that do are "Redirected from the University."

Cia has become more and more disillusioned about the entire testing procedure and her university education. Even though her memory was supposed to be wiped, she is remembering more and more about The Testing, and what she remembers is horrifying. Some of her classmates were murdered, and she is afraid that "redirection" produces the same result.

Cia goes to live in the Government dorm, where she faces difficult initiation challenges with some old and new characters. She survives the challenges, but not all of her classmates do, and is assigned an internship (which is yet another challenge.) She feels those in charge of her education are trying to eliminate her, since they have given her nine classes -- she knows of no one else who has more than seven classes.

Cia figures out more and more about the realities of the government and the testing procedure, and all of it makes her want to run away. But, of course, she doesn't.

Cia is such a strong character. And although her relationship with Tomas is also tested, it appears their love is going to survive. At least for now. The new characters add a totally new aspect to the world. There are local students now in the mix that haven't gone through the testing. Cia continues to remember her father's words, "Don't trust anyone." But, to accomplish her goals of taking down the testing procedure she has to have help. Who can she trust, if anyone?

A large part of Independent Study is taken up by a frightful initiation procedure that Cia must survive in order to continue her studies. While I found the tests to be exciting, interesting, and dangerous, this part of the book really doesn't advance the plot at all. I would have rather spent more time with Cia in full-on "take out the government" mode than all that time trying to get through this hazing. This aspect does serve to help the reader get to know the new characters, though.

I'm excited to continue this series. I find it similar to The Hunger Games, of course, but not copy-cat. There are enough unique elements to The Testing that set it apart. I will excitedly recommend Independent Study to my students (as long as they have already read The Testing.)

Published by HMH BFYR, Januray 7, 2014
eBook obtained from Edelweiss
320 pages

Rating: 4.5/5





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