Age: Young Adult
Series: The Testing #2
Interest: Sequel/ Great story
In the series debut The Testing, sixteen-year-old Cia Vale was chosen by the United Commonwealth government as one of the best and brightest graduates of all the colonies . . . a promising leader in the effort to revitalize postwar civilization. In Independent Study, Cia is a freshman at the University in Tosu City with her hometown sweetheart, Tomas—and though the government has tried to erase her memory of the brutal horrors of The Testing, Cia remembers. Her attempts to expose the ugly truth behind the government’s murderous programs put her—and her loved ones—in a world of danger. But the future of the Commonwealth depends on her. (Summary from Goodreads.com)
*Caution: Given this is a sequel review, there are mild spoilers for the first book and the resulting events of it. Read at your own discretion*
I received a review copy from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This has in no way swayed my opinion.
Intelligence is the single trait guaranteed to make me go all weak-kneed and fall head over comfy socks in love with a series. I cherish intelligent characters. I enjoy when a character can think out a problem faster than me and surprise me with the solution. Cia, Tomas, Will, Michal, Ian, every single character in The Testing and Independent Study is outrageously smart and I love being kept on my toes by them!
The Testing was a spectacular debut, full of suspicion and strategy. Independent Study is a perfect addition! I liked that Charbonneau was able to keep the suspense running high through the novel, even though most challenges the candidates faced weren't outright deadly. Man, that twist ending! It was amazing! The only bone I had to pick with it was how easily Cia seemed to adapt to a leadership position when needed. I suppose this is one of the hidden traits the testing revealed about her, but it was still a little odd given how opposed Cia was to leading anyone previously.
Cia's memory loss was dealt with in the best way possible. She wasn't totally blind to the threats around her. Still, enough was missing to necessitate using her intuition more than a few times. This was a relief to me since I'm used to corny TV plots where a person's amnesia makes them commit hopeless blunders until the magic moment when a knock on the head restores their past. Thankfully Cia was too intelligent to fall prey to that trap.
All of the characters continued to progress in character development. A few complex facets were released about characters from the last book. I have a suspicion another person might have secretly avoided the memory wipe. The new characters caused just as much confusion about what they believed and who they trusted. I gained a couple of new favorites after reading Independent Study.
On a romantic note, I'm glad Cia and Tomas's relationship took a back seat to the central conflicts in the novel. (And I am super, duper glad that there wasn't a love triangle introduced.) Of course, this isn't saying Cia and Tomas had no problems to deal with. There's still the matter of what happened during the testing which they must talk about. I'm happy with the decisions, hard and easy, both of them made.
Independent Study is a fantastic sequel to The Testing and I am on my toes waiting for the last book, Graduation Day. This is a fantastic series filled with strong characters, great plot, action and suspense. I'd recommend it to any fan of awesome books. Go! Read it now! The series isn't just going to drop into your hands!
Teaser Lines: "I find it hard to believe someone who tried to kill both Tomas and me lurks under the friendly smile. But my recorded voice tells me this is exactly who Will is. Which is why I keep close to him. I am determined to find out if that voice is right. About Will. About Tomas. About everything."