27 Jun 2013

Plethora of Reviews #1

Welcome to the first installment of Plethora of Reviews, where I post a handful of short book reviews all in one post! This time I will be reviewing four books I have read recently and wanted to pay tribute to.

Review #1: The Collector by Victoria Scott
Quick Synopsis:
Dante Walker lives, well, down there. Hell. His boss? The lord of Hell. His job? Collecting souls of human beings, tagging them each time they sin. Once they rack up enough tags, their souls are sold to Hell, where they will go once they die. Dante loves his job; he just doesn't like the tie he has to Hell. He wants to be free, and the chance has come. His boss offers him a promotion that will allow him to live on earth. The catch? He has to collect the soul of one girl, Charlie. The bigger catch? Charlie is a saint (she started her own charity, for goodness sake)! If trying to turn a saint into a sinner was hard enough, someone else is trying to collect Charlie as well. Dante's got a lot on his plate between Charlie, the mysterious competition, and ... what? Developing a soft spot for Charlie? Surely not...

My Thoughts:
This book was fun. Dante is one frustrating guy. He's obnoxious, intimidating, seemingly heartless, extremely bad ass, and worst of all, incredibly good-looking. I'm sure he has stronger words to describe his looks, but he's not here right now (err, unfortunately). I really enjoyed the premise of this book and the way Victoria Scott brought Dante's story to life. The book was witty, but also dark.
I could not relate to Charlie, but the book was not written from her perspective, so I was not bothered. Dante's internal dialogue about her was pretty hilarious, and if that makes me an awful person, well, at least Dante is on my side. Well, until he fell for her, anyway.

If you're looking for a fun read with an interesting twist and intriguing plot, I recommend this one. If anything, you'll enjoy Dante's narrative. I don't usually laugh out loud when I'm reading (I internally emote most of the time), but this one had me snorting many times throughout.

Rating: 4/5 stars. I loved it, and cannot wait for the sequel, The Liberator, which is out this coming August (yay for short waits - I read this one back in June).

Review #2: Origin by Jessica Khoury
Quick Synopsis:
Pia, our main character, is going to live forever. She has been bred specifically for this, in the hopes that what made her immortal can be passed on to the rest of humanity. But what if Pia doesn't want to be the scientist they want her to be? What if she wants to be free? One day she leaves the compound she has grown up on and been prisoner in (though it never felt like a prison until she gets out and meets Eio, a boy from a nearby village). Slowly Pia begins to discover that the lab she thought she knew so well is full of secrets, and she is at the heart of all of them.

My Thoughts:
I loved everything about this book. The premise, the setting, the pet jaguar...
So far Origin is the only book I've read that has done the genetic manipulation of humans right. And by right, I mean it was well done. Well-written, well plot out, well delivered. The characters were fascinating and had me questioning who I actually liked and who I actually hated.
The premise by far was my favourite part though. It really makes you question how far humanity would go to preserve itself. Do we humans need to know how to bottle immortality? Could someone be working on that research right now? Could the events in the book happen one day? Probably. If the boundaries of ethics are pushed and bent the right way, anyway.

Rating: 5/5. And there will be a companion novel called Vitro, which is due out January of next year. Should be interesting!

Review #3: Proxy by Alex London
Quick Synopsis: 
Similar concept as The Whipping Boy (which I've not read, but know the premise of), Proxy is the story of two teenage boys, Knox and Syd. Knox is rich, and Syd is his proxy. When Knox does something bad, be it getting a bad grade or accidentally killing a girl, Syd takes the punishment. Now Syd is on the run, not wanting to serve the life sentence law tells him he has to do when he did not even do anything wrong.
Knox knows something is not right, so when the two accidentally find each other, Knox joins his proxy in evading the authorities and Knox's father, who will stop at nothing to get his son back. Or is that what he's after them for?

My Thoughts: 
The concept of this book, as you might have guessed, is really fascinating. I've been told it's remembrant of The Whipping Boy, a story where when the prince misbehaves, a boy takes his punishment instead and is whipped, because a prince cannot be whipped. This story is less fantasy and more futuristic sci-fi. And it's great.
The story is told from the alternating POVs of both Knox and Syd, who are very, very different. Knox is difficult to like, until the very end whereareallycoolcliffhangerhappens and damnitIneedthenextbooknow, but I won't get into that for spoiler's sake.
Might I also add that this book is a great LGBT read, especially since the matter of Syd's sexuality is not the focus of the story. It's a non-issue, which made me smile to discover that the future in Proxy's world, while incredibly mucked up, has at least advanced as much to have accepted people's sexualities. Finally.

Rating: 4/5 - Great book, well-written, hard to put down. I received an e-copy from the publisher via netgalley in exchange for an honest review, and bought the hardcover immediately once it was published.

Review #4: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
Quick Synopsis: 
It's finally happened. Contact. With 'out there'. Except not the kind of contact humans were hoping for. An alien race who won't show their faces (or any part of them, really) have reached earth and are taking over. That's right, they aren't here to make friends. They're here to eliminate us and take out planet for themselves. And they're doing a good job of it. First they take away our technology. No hydro, no internet, no transportation except by foot. Then there is a virus, which only a small perentage of the human population is immune to. As for the immune? They don't know who to trust, because the enemy is hiding among them.
Our main character has lost everything and is on the hunt to find her younger brother when she is incapacitated and dying. But then she is rescued and she has to figure out if she can trust her saviour, Evan, especially since he might be her only hope in getting her brother back.

My Thoughts:
The story is told from a few point of views, but it never gets confusing, as each point of view is its own 'part'.
I don't really know what to say about this book. It was just so amazing that I'm not sure my words can do it justice. But I will say this: I think this is going to be the best book of the year, guys. This is it.

Rating: 5/5 - Book of the year, guys. I'm calling it. (And from the other reviews I've seen, I'm not the only one!)

25 Jun 2013

Top Ten Tuesday (5): Top Ten Books I've Read So Far In 2013

(Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly book meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. To join in on this weekly meme, visit the blog here)

Top Ten Books I've Read So Far In 2013

These are in no particular order...

Falling Kingdoms (Falling Kingdoms #1) by Morgan Rhodes

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Received from the publisher via netgalley.
Review to come soon. Spoiler: 5/5 rating
The Eternity Cure (Blood of Eden #2) by Julie Kagawa
Click here for my review
Clockwork Princess (The Infernal Devices #3) by Cassandra Clare

Origin by Jessica Khoury
Review to come soon
Scrap by Emory Sharplin
Received from publisher via netgalley.
Click here for my review
Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1)
The 5th Wave (5th Wave) by Rick Yancey
Review to come soon
The Testing (The Testing #1) by Joelle Charbonneau
Click here for my review
Unravel Me (Shatter Me #2) by Tahereh Mafi

24 Jun 2013

A Plethora of Mini Reviews

As some of you may know, I also write. Most of the time I sacrifice posting to this blog to work on my own writing, plus I have a funny work schedule (ah, the retail life) (but at a bookstore, so no complaints) (are there grammar rules about multiple parentheses in one sentence? Oops, I just broke it twice), so I don't get to spend as much time writing reviews as I'd like.

However, this is problematic, because I read a lot of books, and I'd like to give them all the attention I believe they deserve in the form on honest reviews. But if I were to write a detailed full review about every book I read, well, I wouldn't have much time to do anything else, would I?

So I've come up with a solution that I am hoping will work out all right. Every now and then I will post a plethora of mini reviews. The first one will be coming up, and will feature a few short reviews outlining my thoughts on a handful of books I have recently read. If it doesn't end up working for whatever reason, there won't be anymore, but this is the plan for now.

But don't worry! I will still be posting full reviews every now and then about the books of which I have a lot to say.

(New bookcase! Bookshelf tour to come soon!)

I also hope to be doing a bookshelf tour soon (I bought a new bookcase - see above!) now that my books are organized. So look out for that as well. I will likely upload it to Youtube and link it from here. (Maybe a few of my mini reviews will be done as videos as well to help save time. We shall see.)

And just to keep you up to date, I am currently reading the e-galley of Losing It by multiple YA authors (I'm on the one by Patrick Ness right now). I am also reading Eon by Alison Goodman, which I have barely started so as of yet I've nothing to say about it.

I might continue posting meme posts every now and then. I stopped because having a post a day was leaving no time for other things. Ah, time. Why must there be so little of you?

So yeah. I just wanted to give you all an update. This blog is still active. It might just not be completely reliable. And by it I mean I, of course, haha. I try, guys, I really do.

Happy reading!

23 Jun 2013

Review: Perception by Lee Strauss

Title: Perception
Series: Perception
Placement in Series: Book 1
Author: Lee Strauss
Format: e-galley
Eternal Life is To Die For.

Seventeen year old Zoe Vanderveen is a GAP—a genetically altered person. She lives in the security of a walled city on prime water-front property along-side other equally beautiful people with extended life spans.

Her brother Liam is missing.

Noah Brody is a natural who lives on the outside. He leads protests against the GAPs and detests the widening chasm they’ve created between those who have and those who don’t. He doesn’t like girls like Zoe and he has good reason not to like her specifically.

Zoe’s carefree life takes a traumatic turn. She’s in trouble and it turns out that Noah, the last guy on earth she should trust, is the only one who can help her.

Spoiler warning: I touch on some scenes in the book, but no major plot twists or events are spoiled.

The concept of this book was really fascinating. Set in a futuristic world where technology has advanced incredibly, humans (who can afford the procedure) are genetically enhanced so they live longer (to about 200 years old!) and physically age slower. Our main character, Zoe, lives in a large, protected city known as Sol. She is blonde-haired and blue-eyed and white-skinned like the other GAPs (genetically altered persons), living separately from The Outside, or Los Angeles, as the 'normal' people call it. People on The Outside live far less perfect lives than those in Sol, and do not have access to the procedures to become GAPs (and most don't want to, proving so by holding rallies protesting the genetic alterations).
Then Zoe's brother dies mysteriously, and she goes on a hunt to solve the mystery of his death. And it seems everyone in her life (parents, boyfriend) is hiding something from her.

Throw in science versus ethics and a forbidden romance, and you've got my attention.

Present it to me as it is written in Perception, and you've lost me.

I'm not even going to get into the whole 'all GAPs are beautiful and caucasian and blonde with blue eyes' thing, because I'm sure you can guess how much that in itself annoys me. I read the Uglies series (gee, another disappointing story on genetically altering humans*), and I don't remember if people's skin colour was changed, but I wouldn't doubt it. This is not okay, people.

Disclaimer: not blaming the author on this one - it is all a part of the story. And that's why I'm not going to go into it, because it is not something I find to be a fault in the book itself. I just wish this was also touched on more in Perception.

Touched on more?
What else do I think should be touched on more in Perception?
Hmm, well let's see...

While the plot seriously interested me, I was extremely disappointed in how it all played out. The only reason I continued to read past the halfway point (when I knew this book was doomed) was because I wanted to know how it would play out. It wasn't the premise that was the problem, but the many factors in the book (characters, plot development, length, writing) that worked against it and had me gritting my teeth and biting back the urge to yell at my e-reader.

I apologise for the extreme negativity contained in this review, but it was unable to be helped.

Let's start with the main character, Zoe. Zoe is naive (understandable, since she grew up sheltered as a GAP), but she never grows out of it. She's also emotionless. Her brother dies, and sure, she's upset. But she acts as if he was merely keeping a secret from her, not that he died and is never coming back. In fact, no one in the book reacted very much when Zoe's brother died. Her mother (who Zoe refers to by her first name - Zoe refers to both her parents by their first names, because she doesn't feel 'connected' to them) was clearly upset by the death of Liam. But she was the only one. And everyone else was acting as if the mother couldn't handle life or something because she was so upset that her son died.
So yeah, there was that. Thankfully Zoe is at least trying to find out what happened, but I don't believe it's her way of grieving. I don't believe she's grieving at all. I think she's just offended that no one will tell her what is going on.

Zoe also fails to react (except for her knees giving out in shock) when she finds out something shocking about her past (she says vaguely, to avoid spoiling anyone who has yet to read the book and wants to). What she learns is so incredibly life-altering (haha, get it? Because she is literally already altered being a GAP? Sorry. Moving on), but she doesn't stop to think about it. There's no internal monologue about it, and it's not brought up until she randomly lashes out at her grandfather. But even all that is is a sarcastic comeback telling her grandfather that she knows the secret about herself, and then that's it. She hardly brings it up again. Not even internally. And this book is written in the first person. There is no excuse.

A bit more on Zoe's lack of... thought, for lack of a better term at the moment. Her boyfriend is being extremely shady throughout the whole first half of the book, and never once does she think 'Why am I with this boy who acts like he knows something about my brother's death, but won't tell me about it? And why am I with him when he basically ignores me after my brother dies - a moment in which I need him the most? And why do I continue to be with him after all of that plus the fact that I am now finding the maid's son to be attractive and I want to kiss him really, really badly?' (more on that later)
Zoe! Your boyfriend is being shady about your brother's mysterious death and barely even comforts you in your (basically non-existent - but that's besides the point) time of mourning! DUMP HIM!

She also infuriated me with her obsession over the maid's son. His mother is extremely sick and he leaves her to go visit her in the hospital, and doesn't call Zoe right away, and Zoe is paranoid he hates her. Out of no where she just starts thinking he's going to leave her. Because when he called her to give her the update on his mom, he sounded strained. He called her and she thinks he doesn't want to be together. Zoe is not a character anyone should look up to.

So about those romantic feelings for the maid's son...
Zoe doesn't pay Noah (maid's son) much attention until she realises his functionability in figuring out what happened to her brother. Now, I don't believe she's using Noah, no. I just also don't believe how she fell for him in an instant at this point. Out of no where she's realising how attractive he is and hoping that he'll be attracted to her. Meanwhile, she's still with her shady GAP boyfriend.

But the worst part?

Noah thinks of Zoe as filth. She's a genetically altered person who believes in everything he's against. But the day after Zoe enlists his help to solve the Liam mystery, he's into her like he hasn't spent hours of his time at rallies against GAPs and loathing her family. It made no sense to me. This was one romance that I could not get into. I wanted to; the idea of their forbidden romance was a predictable plot point, but an intriguing one. Sadly, it was developed poorly.
It had its ups and its down. Singular. Down. They had one fight that lasted half of a page. Noah realised he didn't belong in Sol because he wasn't a GAP and Zoe's 'friends' turned their nose up at him. Zoe chases after him and after only maybe three days of knowing him properly and one day after kissing him, declares that she'll leave the only home she's ever known to be with him.
There was no emotional build-up. The romance just happened and we readers are just supposed to believe it. Count me out.

Also underdeveloped was Zoe's relationship with her friends. They only appeared to nudge the plot along slightly. Zoe needed an escape from her house, and suddenly her best friend (who isn't mentioned until 90+  pages in - more than halfway through the story, folks) is on a trip and Zoe's pretending this best friend is home a day early.

There were several plot holes, like when she sneaks out of the house and her father tries calling her, but she ignores him. And then when she returns home, there's no mention of her getting reprimanded. The way she left her house had me thinking she wasn't going to return until everything was solved - she was basically on house arrest at that point, because her parents didn't want her seeing the maid's son. But then she sneaks out and nothing happens? *frowns*

I wish there was more focus on the story at hand. What I read feels like it was a first draft the author wrote down to get all of their ideas out in front of them, for them to embellish on later. The characters as well as the plot need some extreme fleshing out. And for a futuristic story about genetically altered humans, 150 pages just doesn't seem enough to tell the story. And it doesn't. A few other reviews I've read pointed out that Perception felt like it was a summary of a book. Someone wrote down all of the basic plot points and left out all of the development and emotion and voila! Perception.

The last quarter of the book is told from an entirely differect point of view. All of a sudden we reach 'part 2' of the book, and it is told in Noah's point of view. While I enjoyed Noah's point of view better than I did Zoe's, I thought this was really odd, and it threw me off. I want through most of the book in one person's perspective, only to be thrown into an entirely different person's mind for the last few chapters. This part could have been extended to the length that Zoe's part was - everything that happened in Noah's chapters felt rushed, and the final plot twist was solved way too conveniently for my taste.

In summation, good premise, bad delivery. Perception needs a lot of fleshing out. I hope the sequel is given more attention. I might read it to see if it improves and to see where this story goes, because like I said before, I really like the idea.

Rating: 2/5 - Just didn't do it for me.
Recommended for: No one? The only reason I finished this one was to find out how it ended, and because it was so short.

*I've so far read three stories about genetically altering humans. Perception is the latest, Uglies was the first, and Origin (Jessica Khoury) was the second. Origin was fantastic, by the way. So it can be done right.

11 Jun 2013

Cover Judging #3

We all judge books by their covers in one way, shape, or form - don't try to deny it.
Book covers are more often than not the first introductions we get when it comes to a book. Unless, of course, someone tells you about a book before you see it. Either way, we all cover judge. And that's fine. And at least once in our reading lives, we have looked at a cover of a book and then moved past it to another book, not deeming the first book worthy of being picked up off the shelf. Be it the front cover or the spine. Covers catch out attention. That's what they're there for.
Sometimes a lot of thought go into the making of a book cover, and sometimes we can tell little thought was put into a book's cover (or at least, the wrong kind of thoughts). I'm sure you've all thought of a book you've read with a less-than-spectacular cover, or perhaps a cover that has nothing to do with the material inside of the book.

But that's not what this post today is about. Not entirely.

I read this wonderful book last year. It's name is Seraphina, and the lovely Rachel Hartman (I'm assuming she's lovely - her writing in this debut novel certainly was) is the author.
For once it was a description of the book that caught my attention. Or rather, a word:


However, I adored the cover when it was revealed, and I'm sure you can see why:

Gorgeous, isn't it?

But then a new cover was released, and I'm sure you'll understand my current dilemma when you see it (or maybe not - we all have different opinions).
The new cover:

Same deal, except it's PURPLE

Purple, guys. Purple is my favourite colour, so maybe that makes me extremely biased, but I LOVE this cover. I seriously, really do. The problem? I already own the other cover.
Wait, is that really a problem? I can justify buying this even-more-gorgeous cover to add to my collection, right?

Well, I can. And I have, for the most part. I will pick up this cover one day. I will.

But anyway.

If you look at the two covers side-by-side (here - I'll make this a little easier)

There are some pretty cool differences, and I'm sure a lot of thought was put into those differences. For example, I found the purple cover in the 9-12 section of the bookstore. It *IS* very 9-12y if you think about it. The purple makes the cover slightly more childish. And the writing and colour is more flashy. Those are the things that catch a kid's eye, for sure. Kids are more likely to pick up a book with a colourful cover than one not. Heck, most people are. Then the original cover is in the 13+ section. A little more mature and artsy with its black and white drawing and the gold writing and red border. It's still awesome, and there are probably a lot of people who prefer that cover over the purple one.

As for me, I like both, but prefer the purple purely because of favourite colour bias.

All right, I'm done my babbling now. It's your turn. Which cover do you prefer? Let's discuss in the comments :)

(Also, I don't understand why they would put a book in two sections of a bookstore. I guess to reach out to more readers? But then that just leads into the whole 'but if 9-12ers can read it and teens can read it too, and a lot of other books are suitable for pre-teens, teens, and adults, why are these age labellings necessary?' conversation, and that topic just gives me a headache because I both understand the marketing side of it and don't understand the marketing side of it. Mostly because there are some books in certain sections I don't agree with. But anyway. *pulls fingers away from keyboard*)

PS, if you haven't read Seraphina by Rachel Hartman and love fantasy and dragons as much as I do (or even if you don't *shrugs*), you can read my review on the wonderfully-written book here. Spoiler: It's a 5/5 star review, so I highly recommend this one. AND it's the first of a series.
PPS, There's a photo to the UK cover in my review - which is also awesome, but very different from the above covers, which is why it was not included in this post. I do like the font on the UK cover more than the US covers, though, I must admit.

8 Jun 2013

Summer Reads - What Are They, Anyway?

(A photo from my cottage vacation last summer up in beautiful, peaceful Combermere, Ontario)

Now that the summer is here (perhaps not officially as per the calendar, but to me it is), everyone is asking for/recommending/talking about their summer picks. Working in a bookstore has me hearing about summer reads every day, but I have a confession:

I don't have any 'summer' picks. I don't want to strictly read 'beach' books (light romances, quick reads, etc). I read whatever piques my interest, and the time of year doesn't change that. I also find the term 'summer reads' to be very confusing. Do the books have to be about summer? What defines a book as a 'light' or 'beach' read, anyway?

(Me, in apparent deep concentration as I rock red pants and a sweater and read The Power of Six by Pittacus Lore. Taken - without my knowing until I went through my camera later - last year on my summer cottage vacation. Do aliens count in the summer reads category? Because they were a part of my summer!)

As a (preferably) YA reader, I walked up and down the YA shelves at the bookstore, reading synopses of books that I thought might qualify as a summer read. The few I found I picked because they were romance-y reads (some that take place during the summer). But as I read the back, all I could think was

I'd rather read this in the winter when I'm missing the summer.

The YA 'summer' reads all felt like novels that would raise my expectations of summer. If I spent my summer living vicariously through the characters finding summer love in between the pages of these so-called summer books, I'd finish the summer with a lump of disappointment in my stomach. *insert whiny voice here* How come I didn't go on a road trip/camping adventure/meet a hot guy on the beach who swept me off my feet?

It might sound ridiculous - I mean, I don't think like this when I read whatever else I usually read any other time of the year (probably because I don't often read books that are strictly romance-y - I like some fantasy/paranormal/etc to my reads).

I should add that not all 'summer reads' lists are entirely composted of contemporary romance novels. I've seen some novels I'd enjoy on these lists, but that just further confuses me on this topic. What exactly makes a book fit into a 'summer read' category?

Some people act as if these novels are great reads during the summer months especially. Why? What makes these books different from others that make them seemingly more enjoyable in the summer? Is it just a marketing thing? If so, it really doesn't make much sense to me.

Perhaps I'm looking too much into it since the term is surrounding me. I have customers coming in asking me to recommend them beach reads, and most of them walk away with something from the romance section, or a contemporary novel from the fiction section (usually a Sophie Kinsella novel or an Emily Giffin - chick lit, anyway).

I don't have the males of our species coming in asking for 'beach' reads, so is this just a female thing? When guys come in asking for books for their vacation, they want something they'd normally read. Some walk away with mysteries or thrillers or biographies or true crime novels. Some with sci-fi or horror or fantasy. So maybe the question I should be asking is is it just a women thing?

I'm sure there are females out there who are like me and read any and every genre any time of year. So maybe that's what is confusing me. Maybe it's just because it's summer and people are going on vacation and thus have more time to read, someone coined the term summer read and publishers and bookstores and book buyers have bought into the idea of a summer read?

This post has gone absolutely no where, but it was not really meant to.

What I want to ask you, whoever is reading this word-vomit of a blog post, is what the heck do you consider to be a summer read? And is that what you like to read in the summer? What are you reading now?

I'd love for you to weigh in on this, because I've no answers. Perhaps there isn't one. It's likely that the definition of 'summer/beach reads' is entirely subjective. But there you have it.
So. What do you think?

7 Jun 2013

Blog Tour Stop: The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau -- A Review & Giveaway!

Be sure to check out the other stops of the tour for exclusive interviews, guest posts, and more!
Blog tour hosted by Vade Mecum Blog Tours.
June 3 Nick's Book Blog (author interview)
June 4 Little Library Muse (review)
June 5 Bookworms' Avenue (guest post)
June 6 Literary Meanderings (author interview)
June 7 Court Reads and Reviews (review)
June 8 Ink Skies (review)
June 9 Drugs Called Books (guest post)

Title: The Testing
Series: The Testing
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Placement in Series: 1/3
Author: Joelle Charbonneau
Format: e-galley
Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Isn’t that what they say? But how close is too close when they may be one in the same?

The Seven Stages War left much of the planet a charred wasteland. The future belongs to the next generation’s chosen few who must rebuild it. But to enter this elite group, candidates must first pass The Testing—their one chance at a college education and a rewarding career.

Cia Vale is honored to be chosen as a Testing candidate; eager to prove her worthiness as a University student and future leader of the United Commonwealth. But on the eve of her departure, her father’s advice hints at a darker side to her upcoming studies--trust no one.

But surely she can trust Tomas, her handsome childhood friend who offers an alliance? Tomas, who seems to care more about her with the passing of every grueling (and deadly) day of the Testing. To survive, Cia must choose: love without truth or life without trust.
Watch the trailer:
About the Author
Joelle Charbonneau began telling stories as an opera singer, but these days she finds her voice through writing. She lives near Chicago with her husband and son and when she isn’t writing, works as an acting and vocal coach.
Connect with Joelle Charbonneau
Sorry, I had to get that out. But it's true. I loved every second of The Testing - so much that once I got halfway I stayed up until 4am so I could finish it. I just could not stand putting it down without knowing what was going to happen.
Things start out innocent enough in The Testing. Malencia Vale (Cia) is looking forward to her graduation because a) it means she is an adult, and b) she is hoping to get chosen for The Testing. When graduation comes by and no announcement is made, Cia is disappointed. No one from her colony was chosen. But then later that night a Testing official shows up and Cia finds out that she is, in fact, chosen for The Testing, as well as three of her other classmates - one being Tomas, the charismatic, good-looking, and smartest guy in her class. She is ecstatic. But then her father warns her to be careful. He too was chosen for The Testing when he graduated, and though he does not remember anything that happened before he entered the University, he tells her of the dreams that have haunted him ever since. And so Cia joins her three other classmates to journey to where they will take The Testing, with only a single bag for her belongings and her father's cautioning words to carry with her.
The book doesn't keep us waiting for any action or suspense - things begin to escalate rather quickly from there, and we along with Cia begin to learn just what is up with The Testing. Our first hint is when one of Cia's classmates chosen for The Testing asks what happens if she doesn't want to go. The consequence for refuses to take The Testing? It is strongly hinted that it is death. And things don't stop there. Bad things begin to happen at The Testing, and if it weren't for the fact that I was reading the first half of the book only on my breaks at work, I probably would have read it all in one night. I was pulled into Cia's world, into her mind, worrying with her throughout the story. What terror would happen next? Would she make it through The Testing? What happens to those who fail? For over a hundred students are chosen from different colonies for The Testing, but only twenty or so are chosen to attend the University. Nothing is clear for Cia, nor for the reader.
The book delivers incredible suspense and is full of mystery. I don't think there was one part of Cia's Testing that I was sure she would make it through. I tried rooting for Cia and for those she trusted, but I was too busy biting my nails and trying not to skip ahead to make sure all would end up well!
Fans of The Hunger Games, the Divergent series, and The Maze Runner trilogy will love this book. It is full of survival-based adventure, mystery, and so many twists and variables that you cannot possibly know what will happen next. As for Cia? She is right up there with Katniss, Thomas, and Tris. She has to pull out all the stops and use everything she knows to get to where she wants to go, and when it comes to her survival, it's her gut and core instincts she has to trust. Her choices are admirable, and her loyalty strong. I am anxious to read what happens next (we readers are left with quite a cliff-hanger, folks!) You won't want to wait for the sequel, that's for sure!

Rating: Solid 5/5
Recommended for: Anyone who loved The Hunger Games/Divergent/The Maze Runner and post-apocalyptics and dystopians in general. You'll want to get this one in your hands if you haven't already!

Check out the sidebar for a link to the FREE copy of the prequel, watch the book trailer, and more!

Fill out the rafflecopter form below to enter a giveaway for your chance to win 1 of 7 copies of The Testing!