HMH Books for Young Readers, 2014. 978-0547959207
Synopsis: Now that Cia and her friend Tomas have passed The Testing and been enrolled in the University, Cia believes that perhaps the testing is over. She will be able to study and work hard toward becoming one among the new generation of leaders for the Commonwealth. But her fragmented memories of her Testing are coming back to her, haunting her, and her desire to stay under the radar means ignoring the truth. She wants to be a leader, but being a leader means making sacrifices. Cia has to decide which sacrifices to make in order to keep herself and her loved ones safe as she races to find a way to expose the corrupt nature of The Testing.
Why I picked it up: There was a preview chapter in The Testing and after that teaser, I knew I had to keep reading to see if Cia would fully regain her memories.
Why I finished it: Charbonneau completely draws us into Cia’s world by juxtaposing the chaos and corruption of the government and the outside world with Cia’s faint glimmers of hope that there is a solution to every problem. Cia is learning to recognize what tasks are solvable and which are not. She is learning that every challenge comes with a lesson, with consequences for herself and those around her. The secrets and lies that she is uncovering could mean that there is more behind The Testing than just a power struggle, but the fragments of information that she uncovers only leave her with more questions than answers. I have to again praise the power of the first person narrative: though is gives the reader a limited scope, it endears us to the narrator, making the story much more believable because we are able to “hear” it firsthand. The reader may only see the narrator’s perspective, but Cia as a narrator has beautifully illustrated her world and her struggles so that we are able to put ourselves in her shoes. Another thing that I like about this series is that it gives us an accurate picture of where the world could go, given the current state of our natural resources, technology, and world leadership. It’s adding elements of environmentalism in with the political so that the reader is given an almost 360˚ view of where society has gone, to what means of survival we have been reduced. Independent Study has a surprising depth that challenges the reader to ponder what choices they would make, what kind of leader they would seek to become if they were put in the same situation. It’s a stirring midpoint that, while it starts off a little slower, gives us a foundation for the events to come.
Other related materials: The Testing (The Testing, Book 1) by Joelle Charbonneau; Graduation Day (The Testing, Book 3) by Joelle Charbonneau; The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins; Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins; Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins; Divergent by Veronica Roth; Insurgent by Veronica Roth; Allegiant by Veronica Roth; The Giver by Lois Lowry; Maze Runner books by James Dashner; The Mortality Doctrine books by James Dashner; The Partials Sequence books by Dan Wells, Matched books by Allie Condie; Legend books by Marie Lu; The Young Elites by Marie Lu; In the After by Demitria Lunetta; In the End by Demitria Lunetta; The Razorland Trilogy by Ann Aguirre; The Unwind Dystology by Neal Shusterman