Title: Independent Study
Series: The Testing #2
Publication: January 7, 2013
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
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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.
Cia's beginning to remember pieces of what occurred during the Testing and it's difficult to look into the smiling faces of her friends wondering which one turned murderous to get chosen for the University. She's also stressed about the exam that will decide her future and the results are unexpected and troubling. Now, she’s joined with Tosu students that see her and the other colony graduates as inferior but Cia will prove that she is a formidable opponent. Cia's curiosity about her new environment puts her in trouble and now she's being watched by the school officials. In order for her to learn more, she has to trust those around her and seek the answers that will lead to the truth about the Testing. Cia doesn't want to be a leader at times and she's afraid but I think that's a good natural response and she really thrives in this atmosphere when she needed to do so. She will eventually have to come to terms with her destiny and decide to fall in line or rebel for the greater good. "Failure is not an option" but one thing she may learn is that death’s certain, if she fails.
I like Cia, her vulnerability makes her a strong yet relatable character and she's a smart and intuitive female heroine. She's not one of those girls that will head into danger without thought but she’s actually logical about her actions, which makes her a great leader in this story. Throughout the story, she has questions and doubts about the government and the recording of herself describing details of the Testing but it doesn't stop her forward progress in her program. Cia has it tough in this book, so many of her Tosu peers are against her and the other colony students being there. She's one of few that grasps that the Testing hasn't really ended but is constantly going on, though this is the problem...she catches on too quickly and people begin to suspect that she remembers something that happened in the Testing. Now, I read the book and I don't remember what she did but my curiosity is sparked because it has the higher-ups on edge.
I liked the pace of this book and the writing. The characters each have their own quirks that make them stand out in the book. Cia and her boyfriend struggle in this book as she's not sure if she can truly trust him but it's interesting how they deal with this conflict especially since they're separated into different programs. Overall, this is a good quick read with action, romance and betrayal that I think any dystopia lover will enjoy.