Mini-reviews: The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau; Death by Living: Life Is Meant to Be Spent by N.D. Wilson

testingTitle: The Testing
Author: Joelle Charbonneau
Genre: YA dystopian fiction
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Number of pages: 325
First line: Graduation Day.

Goodreads blurb: 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.

While The Testing obviously owes much of its inspiration to The Hunger Games, Charbonneau has created a unique enough world and main character that it didn’t bother me as I read it aloud to my boys. I liked the world-building and the concept of the different stages of the testing. The boys didn’t want me to stop reading as we came close to the end, and on the morning that we had forty pages left to go, we skipped history to finish it. They immediately asked me to get book two, so we will be reading that soon. Oh, and one cool thing is that Charbonneau avoided the love triangle that is ever-present in YA fiction.

deathbylivingTitle: Death by Living: Life Is Meant to Be Spent
Author: N.D. Wilson
Genre: Christian nonfiction
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from my personal library
Number of pages: 185

I really expected to absolutely adore this book, because I’ve enjoyed some of Wilson’s fiction, and I typically really enjoy creative nonfiction. Unfortunately, his unique writing style and large flowing descriptive passages seem to get in the way of the point. Yes, I understood that he was telling the reader to eke every single drop out of life before it ends. I did enjoy some of the stories of his grandparents’ histories, but for the most part, I felt like he was more interested in wowing us with his word choices than with really giving us something tangible to hold on to.

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12 Responses to Mini-reviews: The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau; Death by Living: Life Is Meant to Be Spent by N.D. Wilson

  1. Sandy
    Twitter: youvegottaread
    says:

    I know this is SO not fair, but I can’t bring myself to read Charbonneau, even though her books have a decent following. We met her at SIBA one year and she was such a flake, and kind of a loud, attention-getter. At least that was my take-away. I really don’t think I have to like an author to read them, but I guess in this case I can’t get past it!

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Sandy – That’s funny! I guess I’m glad I’ve never met her in person or seen her live, because I really liked her book! lol

  2. The Charbonneau book sounds interesting. I like that there is no love triangle. Those get old so fast!

    Sandy’s comment made me laugh. I’ve had that reaction to authors too–I hear them speak or meet them in person and if they make a good impression, I want to read everything they’ve written , but if they have the opposite affect on me, I tend to shy away from their books. I try not to judge a book by its author, but sometimes it happens.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Wendy – I think sometimes it is better not to know too much about an author! But, then again, some of them turn out to be wonderful people. :)

  3. Trisha
    Twitter: Trish422
    says:

    No love triangle?!?! I’m in. I truly hate a love triangle.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Trisha – they didn’t use to bother me, but the love triangle has been WAY overdone.

  4. Heather
    Twitter: BookAddictHeath
    says:

    I liked The Testing and the second book, Independent Study, a LOT. I think it’s so funny what Sandy says about the author because I was with her that day, and I didn’t feel that way about Charbonneau at all! It’s so funny how we can have the exact same experience and feel completely different about it.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Heather – I am so glad Independent Study is good, too! I always am a bit nervous about the book two dive. I ordered it to read aloud to the boys after we finish our current selection. :)

  5. Beth F
    Twitter: BethFishReads
    says:

    Ok, I may actually try the testing now. No YA love triangle? What a relief.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Candace – no kidding! I hope more authors stop skipping this trope.

  6. Kailana says:

    I have been seeing The Testing around. I may have to check it out at some point just for curiosity sake.