January 2, 2014
Review: Independent Study
Independent Study by Joelle Charbonneau
This book was an ARC provided by HMH Books for Young Readers in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: In the series debut The Testing, sixteen-year-old Cia Vale was chosen by the United Commonwealth government as one of the best and brightest graduates of all the colonies . . . a promising leader in the effort to revitalize postwar civilization. In Independent Study, Cia is a freshman at the University in Tosu City with her hometown sweetheart, Tomas—and though the government has tried to erase her memory of the brutal horrors of The Testing, Cia remembers. Her attempts to expose the ugly truth behind the government’s murderous programs put her—and her loved ones—in a world of danger. But the future of the Commonwealth depends on her.
The Good: I liked some of the new characters that were introduced. It was fun to figure out their allegiances. Ian and Enzo were my favorites. Since I'm not a huge fan of Tomas, they're much stronger male leads than he's been (and I kind of hope one of them ends up as Cia's love interest). The Induction parts were excellent, and I liked how Charbonneau worked in the zoo. It was refreshing for the president to be a good guy (or at least, I feel like she is) instead of always the enemy. Don't get me wrong: I love antagonists like President Snow and President Coin. But the government itself isn't always bad. That's why I liked how those who ran the Testing, separate from yet concurrent with the government, were the villains. I enjoyed seeing how Cia realized the stakes were getting higher and how she recovered her memories and worried about who her allies could be. I liked hearing about the Inductions in Tomas's and Stacia's fields of study.
The Bad: I'm starting to feel like Cia has the answer to everything. Everyone else is smart, but they pale in comparison to her intelligence. I'd like to see her mess up every now and then. I also felt like too much of the book involved Cia moving into her new residence and the Induction. By page 238, she was just starting her internship, which felt like it would be a much bigger part of the book. I wanted to hear more about her classes and the internship than we were given.
The Ugly: Not too much language. Romance stayed very chaste. Violence was probably the worst, but it wasn't terribly graphic.
The Verdict: It was a good read, hard to put down. Ultimately, The Testing was better but this is a series that demands to be read through.