I read the first book in this series, The Testing, last fall and I liked it quite a bit, for a contemporary YA dystopia (well, it’s more post-apocalyptic, but same idea) anyway. There was a conspicuously missing backstory that bothered me, but I figured we’d learn about it more in time.
And… we… kinda not really but sorta do? I mean, we don’t learn anything terribly useful, but the point of this book is that Cia is asking questions and trying to figure out what the heck is up with this whole American Gladiators University selection process, so it’s not like Charbonneau doesn’t know what I’m interested in, here.
But first there is more Gladiators, as the colony students who passed the entrance exams now have to compete a second time to actually get to stay in the University, because of course they do. They have to compete against Tosu City (read: The Capitol) students who didn’t have to kill each other to get there, but of course if you’re trying to get into college a little death is par for the course, yes? I mean, no?
And then once that’s over, there are classes, and Cia gets to be an unwilling Hermione, taking all the classes without even the help of a time turner, and also is working with resistance types to try to make the University system safe and normal again.
It’s all pretty standard stuff, but I love the way Charbonneau writes and also how she seems to know what I want in my ridiculous YA dystopias. The love straight line still exists, and is still not at all twue-wove-y, and also the ending! The ending was completely what I was expecting up until the point where it was not at all what I was expecting but oh so interesting and I am so happy that Graduation Day comes out in less than three months because I have got to see how this plays out.
Recommendation: If you have any fondness for YA dystopias, this’ll be right up your alley, and there’s way less kids-killing-kids action than the last one.