YA Review: Independent Study (The Testing #2)

Title: Independent Study (The Testing #2)
Author: Joelle Charbonneau

Book two of The Testing Trilogy sees Cia and the other survivors enrolled in the Early Studies programme, designed to prepare them for their final training. Based on their performance in the Early Studies exam, each student is admitted to one of the five university departments and given the chance to help rebuild their post-war society. But this is a YA dystopia, so of course the author gives us more tests, and more danger for the characters to survive before they can concentrate on their studies.

A series of harrowing induction challenges gives Cia and her new classmates the chance to demonstrate their leadership abilities, teamwork, and survival skills. Once again the students must decide who to trust, and who to protect, in an increasingly political competition. There are revelations about other students, about the testing regime, and the consequences of failure. When Cia attracts the attention of those in power, she finds herself having to choose between concentrating on her studies, and attempting to uncover the secrets at the heart of government.

While the first book in the series pitched Cia and her classmates against each other, Independent Study concentrates more on Cia’s attempts to find people she can trust – in the induction challenges, at the university, and in government – and on her suspicions about the system they are trapped in. It’s a page-turning story, and a solid mid-trilogy novel, building gradually towards a finale in book three.

Cia continues to be an interesting and engaging narrator. To begin with she is focused on survival, and on figuring out how to bring herself and her team through every test. As she discovers more about the testing regime and the different factions in the government, she begins to take risks in pursuit of justice, and as a reader I was cheering her on. There are some heart-pounding moments, and some chapters where I found myself shouting at Cia’s decisions, or gasping out loud at their results.

I’m fully invested in the story, and I’ve already downloaded book three!

Have you read The Testing Trilogy? What did you think of Cia’s story? Click through to the full blog to access the comments section, and share your thoughts! No spoilers, though – you can post those on GoodReads!

Review cross-posted to GoodReads.

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