Sunday, July 6, 2014

Not Your Typical Graduation

Cia survived the Testing, but the worst was still to come. In the conclusion to Joelle Charbonneau's Testing series, Graduation Day, Cia is given the responsibility of the entire country, but she has no idea who to trust and how to proceed. 

Cia knows the truth behind the Testing. They were supposed to wipe her memories, but she remembers, and she knows the Testing is evil. Kids forced to kill one another, put through hell, and if they fail? They just disappear. She knows the Testing should end, but she has no idea who to trust. There is an entire group of rebels trying to stop the Testing, but their leader might be the worst of them all, secretly trying to control the rebels to actually preserve the Testing. 

Meanwhile, the President has a task for Cia. She is to find a way to get rid of the highest ranked Testing officials so they can get rid of the entire process. Only the list Cia gets is suspect. She knows she will need some help to get rid of the officials, but who she can trust among her University classmates is still a mystery. Besides Tomas, no one is completely trustworthy, not even her best friend. Still, she can't do it along. She is going to have to trust someone... but first, she must have her own little version of the Testing. With no one's allegiances clearly drawn, the fate of the country is clearly on precarious ground. 

Well, my biggest concern about this conclusion isn't really the conclusion itself. It felt pretty final, and while there were a couple of twists to keep you interested, it wasn't anything overwhelmingly fabulous. It was good, just not spectacular. My biggest pet peeve was that it felt like 250 pages were devoted to Cia's self-doubt and suspicions of the people around her and not enough was given to the actual coup she was supposed to be going through with. I kept finding myself thinking, "Really girl? Really? You have to assassinate 12 people, but let's snog our boyfriend and fret about whether our old roommate is a true friend or not!" It was frustrating at times. When the action did happen, either throughout the book, scattered around, or the big finale, it was very well written and interesting, but it didn't feel like it was the focus of the book. 

The biggest let down was that both subsequent books were just never as good as the first. I LOVED the first book, despite all its Hunger Games similarities, and this one just felt like Charbonneu grew tired of the story. At least the ending was one I could be satisfied with. I was sad to see less of Tomas, because he has always been more important to me than Cia in this series. There is a lot of moral ambiguity in this story that would be great conversation and discussion pieces. It is also middle reader friendly while still being a complex story. I look forward to reading Charbonneau's next project, but I really hope it remains steady in terms of entertainment factor!

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