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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Review: Graduation Day by Joelle Charbonneau

Graduation Day (The Testing, #3)

Publisher: June 17, 2014 by HMH Books for Young Readers
Pages: 304
Series: The Testing #3

"In book three of the Testing series, the United Commonwealth wants to eliminate the rebel alliance fighting to destroy The Testing for good. Cia is ready to lead the charge, but will her lethal classmates follow her into battle?

In a scarred and brutal future, The United Commonwealth teeters on the brink of all-out civil war. The rebel resistance plots against a government that rules with cruelty and cunning. Gifted student and Testing survivor, Cia Vale, vows to fight.

This is the chance to lead that Cia has trained for - but who will follow? Plunging through layers of danger and deception, Cia must risk the lives of those she loves--and gamble on the loyalty of her lethal classmates.

The stakes are higher than ever-lives of promise cut short or fulfilled; a future ruled by fear or hope--in the electrifying conclusion to Joelle Charbonneau's epic Testing trilogy. Ready or not…it's Graduation Day.

The Final Test is the Deadliest!"

After the slightly slow-moving installment that was Independent Study, I was ready for this book to be sop much more to the story, especially since it was tagged as the conclusion to The Testing series. It took about 100 pages but the story line did end up picking up the page (YAY!) 

I really don't like it when stories are slow paced. Either nothing happens or it is just written in a way that I don't worry about the characters safety. That was one of my main problems with Independent Study. Even though there were moments when Cia, the main character, was in trouble, I always knew she would make it out alive because it was not the last book. 

Let's talk about Cia. I really liked her character in the first book, I really really did. She was just a smart girl trying to make everyone proud and stay alive long enough to become a leader of her country. But then her character started to go through an identity change and she ended up as someone I'm not sure I like all that much any more. She goes from sweet girl to a hired assassin. The shift just did not feel genuine to me, especially because of her morals. Cia does NOT seem like the kind of person that would kill someone just because she was told to. But maybe that was the author's point. To show that The Testing changed Cia for the worse just like it did everyone else around her and Cia can't possibly judge Tomas, or even Will, for killing people if that is the person that she has turned into because of The Testing. I guess that makes sense. 

Now that I have brought Tomas up, I REALLY want to talk about him. I don't like his character anymore. I felt that he was just a pawn that was there for the author to move around. He didn't serve a huge purpose in this novel other than almost getting Cia killed and helping kill other people. He just wasn't important to the story which was VERY upsetting. I felt that was true for all of the novels. He was just there to push Cia on her path and not for him to have his own story. 

There was one death that should have been written much better and I was upset with it. *SPOILERS AHEAD* Zeek, Cia's older brother, the only brother of importance was killed at the end. Although it was to save Cia from being shot, I felt that the death was glossed over. It happened, he was dead, and then nothing. He has a headstone. Because he was such an important person to Cia I thought that his death should have been talked about more. For Cia to break or something, but she didn't. The whole ending was kind of off for me. Like it didn't feel as though Cia's story was over. The way it ended left room for the journey to continue and more books to be written.

One thing that I thought was insane, in a good way, was that the board didn't want Cia to pass The Testing and be accepted into the university. To me, she was one of the strongest people in the testing. She didn't have to compromise herself or her morals to finish. But they thought she was too emotional and could never be a leader. Yet ultimately, she was passed and given and internship with the president. It was all crazy until you find out the reasoning behind it. Then you celebrate. This conspiracy was written very well and it was one of my favorite parts in the whole book.

The best part of this novel was the plot and how quickly everything progressed. You got to see the strength of various characters, how far some would go to make things right, and ultimately see how Cia, and us as readers, were deceived through the whole series. There were two reveals that I did NOT see coming. I will let you know that it has to do with Dr. Barnes and then what happenes to Testing Candidates if they fail the first two parts of The Testing. That is all I'm going to say. It was good. It was REALLY good. 

In the end, I have mixed feelings about this novel. The characters WERE well written even if I didn't agree with their identity transformations and the plot was EXTREMELY well written. I will give this novel a 8/10 and the series as a whole an 8.5/10. It is worth the read even if I may not like some of the character's choices. It is the author's world and she may do as she pleases. So go pick up The Testing series by Joelle Charbonneau today! I mean it, TODAY!

-Shawnee Smith

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