YA reviewer Jimmy Pak, a frequent contributor to MO Books, read the series “The Testing” by Joelle Charbonneau and found the books kept him on the edge of his seat. If you’re a teen on the hunt for more dystopian thrillers, this series might be right up your alley.
The first book in the series introduces 17-year-old Malencia Vale. After the Seven Stages War tore apart the world, the United Commonwealth has been working to revitalize the earth. To do this, they need the best and brightest to lead the country.
Every year top students from graduating classes in the colonies are sent to Tosu City for the Testing. Since she was young, Malencia has longed to follow in her father's footsteps and be chosen for the Testing, to help rebuild her country. What she doesn't know is that there's a sinister secret behind the Testing.
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After surviving the trials and tribulations the Testing had to offer, Malencia is finally getting to fulfill her life-long dream of studying at the University. With barely any recollection of her Testing time, Malencia starts to have nightmares she fears could be real memories.
As she begins her time at the University, she realizes the Testing was only the beginning. The next step is to survive Induction, a series of challenges designed by the final years to weed out those who don't belong in the University. She must pass her Induction or face redirection.
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The United Commonwealth is on the brink of a civil war that could tear apart the country and Malencia is in the middle of it all. With her memories of the Testing returned, she is determined to end the Testing and take down those responsible. She must risk her life and the lives of those she loves the most in order to get the truth and bring justice.
Malencia is forced to put her trust in her classmates, though they have proven that they would do anything to get on top. To get rid of the Testing once and for all, Malencia must prove that she is a true leader. One wrong decision and she will fail the most important test of all.
“Graduation Day” is a thrilling conclusion to Charbonneau’s series. The book is a suspenseful, dystopian thriller that will keep readers on the edge of their seats. If you liked “The Hunger Games” you're sure to love this series. “Graduation Day” contains secrets and betrayal, mixed with action and a few surprising plot twists. It will keep readers wanting more, even after the story has ended.