BOOK REVIEW: Independent Study by Joelle Charbonneau

Book: Independent Study by Joelle Charbonneau (The Testing #2)

Genre: YA Fiction, Dystopian

Independent Study continues the story about Cia Vale that began when she was selected to participate in the Testing of the United Commonwealth–the annual exams that determine who will go on to become leaders and politicians in the colonies. The Testing itself happened in the first book, (somewhat obviously) called The Testing. You can read my review of it here.

Independent Study picks up where The Testing left off. Cia is commencing her education at the University. She isn’t supposed to remember anything that happened during The Testing, but she found a way to warn herself about all that had happened. When she tries to expose the truth, she may be putting herself and everybody she loves in danger, but it is the only way to save the next generation.

If you read my review of The Testing, you’ll know that while I enjoyed it, I was a little lackluster about it. Some parts of it seemed like a knockoff of other popular YA dystopian reads, and I was just a little bored. Not bored enough to quit reading, just slightly unenthused. Well, I am pleased to report that the action really picked up in Independent Study.
I could really see the series beginning to take on it’s own distinct shape–not hugging the shadow of other books, just out there, with an interesting, unique story.
Cia is a good character. She’s a good mix of brilliance and weakness, and even though her indecision about whether to trust people (especially Tomas–again) is a little annoying, it’s at least believable. Nobody is strong and decisive all the time.

Once again, Tomas annoys me. I really don’t know why I can’t like this character. He’s supposed to be the dashing love interest, but I like almost every other man in the book more than him. He just always seems like he’s either too good to be true, or he’s hiding something. Both of which could be true. I don’t know. I’m still of the opinion that he could turn out to be betrayer. That would at least make me feel better about disliking him so much.

There’s a really ominous feeling throughout this book. Theoretically, Cia and her friends are all in a much safer place–or at least not an openly malicious environment, but you definitely get the sense of foreboding about what is beyond the bend in the road.

This was a great addition to the series. Moves the story along, doesn’t get bogged down.

I really liked it: 4 out of 5 stars.

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