Joelle Charbonneau is currently most widely known for her lighter, more comedic mystery novels involving roller-skating amateur sleuths and glee club teachers turned detective.  Next Tuesday, this is all going to change.  June 4th, 2013 is the release date of The Testing, the first book in her young adult dystopian trilogy.

Vastly different from her previous books, The Testing is no less successful.  Perfect for the young audience for which it is geared, the book will also appeal to adult readers who have enjoyed other YA offerings such as The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, and Delirium.

Taking place in the not-to-distant future, after an extended war has destroyed most of the planet and its inhabitants, The Testing, tells the story of Malencia “Cia” Vale and her struggle to understand the world she thought she knew, but now must question at every turn.

The powerful governing body of the country has put into place a very complex set of criteria in an effort to create the most viable future society possible.  Every year on graduation day from secondary school, students who have proven that they have “potential” are invited to participate in the testing.  Invited in that very strict sense in which one really has no option but to acknowledge and accept.

This year’s students, including Cia and some of her friends, are taken to the capital where they undergo rigorous testing.  These tests first take the format of standard practical knowledge exams, followed by a more intense team building section.  Lastly, the final section of the process tests their survival skills in real-world scenarios that will make even the most steadfast among them stumble and fall.

At every level, those deemed unworthy will be excused and the stellar candidates will move on until at the end, the government will be presented with only the best of the best, the most well-rounded individuals, each of whom is then allowed to go on to University and a future job rebuilding the crumbling society.

Joelle uses the intensive pressure we put on children today to predict where things could go in the most extreme of situations.  Everyone knows that students are expected to excel academically, extra-curricularly and socially even before they are presented with intensive exams that will literally determine their futures.  Multiply that exponentially, and you have The Testing.

The Testing - UK Cover

The Testing – UK Cover

Cia is the perfect character to take readers on this journey.  She is head-strong and determined.  She is likeable and easy to root for.  And most importantly, she is inquisitive and skeptical.  Cia does not give her trust easily and that may just save her when confronted by other students who will lie, cheat, and steal to guarantee themselves a better future.

Joelle Charbonneau has created a compulsively readable thriller of the highest order.  The world-building is complex and believable, while remaining easy to understand.  It is a novel where every chapter ends with a cliffhanger and the twists just keep coming.  It will be perfect for those students who are on summer holiday, but only if they are able to pry the book from their parents’ sweaty grip.  The first in a trilogy, readers will thank the publishers for making the decisions to release the remaining books faster than originally planned.  Book Two, Independent Study, will be out in January 2014, followed by the final book, Graduation Day, later that year.

For now, get yourself to the bookstore on Tuesday and buy the book.  Subject yourself to The Testing, by Joelle Charbonneau, so that you too can join the chatter when the novel becomes the breakout young adult hit of the summer.


Scheduling Update:  Please return to on Tuesday, June 4th (launch day for The Testing).  Joelle Charbonneau will be joining us for a wonderful interview about the new book.


Disclaimer:  A print galley of this title was provided to BOLO Books by the publisher.  No review was promised and the above is an unbiased review of the novel.