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.
Synopsis from Goodreads
This took me at least three tries to get into. Yup. But I’m no quitter, so I kept coming back to it. I can’t put my finger on what it was that I didn’t like in the beginning. Maybe it was the cover, which I found lacking. Or maybe it was because it felt immature and shallow, but how deep could I possibly get when I was only reading a page or two, or even a mere paragraph, each time. The first couple chapters took me over a week. Everyone else seemed to like it though, and I’m such a sucker for peer pressure, so I thought I should devote some actual time and read more than two pages in one sitting.
I’ll go on record to say that I’m glad I pushed on. It ended up being a good little story. The deeper I got into it, the more I noticed a few things. First off, I was irked in the first half of the book that all secondary characters seemed to be walking around the periphery, never setting foot into the main plot. I wanted to get to know them, care about them the same way that Cia did, but I just couldn’t. The writing was good enough though, so I kept going. At some point, I realized that this sparse character development was probably on purpose, that we are supposed to guess and second guess at these character’s motives. We’re not supposed to know them, not really.
Now, there is no way I can ignore the likeness to The Hunger Games; like the colonies instead of districts, Tosu City in place of The Capital, teens being placed in a fenced in area being forced to survive “tests”. It goes A LOT deeper than the obvious, but I don’t want to spoil it for everyone so I’ll just say, that every now and then I would read a plot point and think Gee, I wonder where you got that idea? That being said, I do think that readers who wanted more of the HG could very easily pick this up and would adore it. I was just hoping for something a little more original. If I hadn’t already read HG I would have given it a higher rating.
It’s a good thing that parts of it were pretty clever. Well structured hints and foreshadowing, leaving me enough room to try to figure things out for myself. I love that I wasn’t told what to think or feel. That part of it was definitely well done.
This book has its ups and down, and its in betweens. Not for everyone, but I can guarantee that it will have a solid fan base. I will definitely read the sequel.
A copy of this book was provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Also, there’s a giveaway happening for this book on Goodreads until June 4. Check it out HERE!