Book Review: Graduation Day

review-cover-graduation day

Title: Graduation Day [The Testing 3]

Author: Joelle Charbonneau

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopian

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

She wants to put an end to the Testing
In a scarred and brutal future, The United Commonwealth teeters on the brink of all-out civil war. The rebel resistance plots against a government that rules with cruelty and cunning. Gifted student and Testing survivor, Cia Vale, vows to fight.

But she can’t do it alone.
This is the chance to lead that Cia has trained for – but who will follow? Plunging through layers of danger and deception, Cia must risk the lives of those she loves–and gamble on the loyalty of her lethal classmates.

Who can Cia trust?
The stakes are higher than ever-lives of promise cut short or fulfilled; a future ruled by fear or hope–in the electrifying conclusion to Joelle Charbonneau’s epic Testing trilogy. Ready or not…it’s Graduation Day.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

What can I say about this book that wasn’t said with the previous two? Not a lot. As always, the main character, Cia, is a brilliant young lady with a strong moral compass (or she was, but we’ll get to that). As far as the technical side of things go, the writing was spot-on. There were no noticeable grammar, spelling, or punctuation mistakes, and the narrative moved at a decent pace (although things were a bit slower in this third installment to the Testing series).

To be honest, I liked the book… I love the series… but this wasn’t the strongest edition to the trilogy. The pace was quite a bit slower this time around and there were a few instances were Cia was so overwhelmed with what was going on around her that her brilliance got a little lost. She made a lot of stupid mistakes in this book. She made some moral choices that probably could have been handled better, and she put her trust in people she probably shouldn’t have. That doesn’t make me love Cia any less as a heroine, but it did make it harder to enjoy her story. I couldn’t help but feel that the core of her character got a little lost.

Also, I’d like to point out that up until the very end of this series (and though I didn’t notice it until I looked back at the series as a whole) a lot of world building was left out. It is never explained why the testing process is so harsh or why it was allowed to continue on in this manner. Life isn’t great in Cia’s world, but I didn’t see anything truly startling (past part of the first book) that indicated any reason why the Testing needed to be as harsh as it was. The world building felt a little empty by the end of the trilogy, and I really wish the author would have delved further into it. There was also a lack of cohesiveness about it. For instance, the characters have all kinds of tiny technology that is being used to track them throughout the series, yet basic infrastructure in the cities is falling apart. The whole place, even the school, is a crumbling mess. Where is this technology coming from? The world Cia lives in feels so insular when you get down to it. Every book in the series is basically the same process of Cia being tested and throw together with the same rag-tag group of kids (though their allegiances are all over the place.. you never know how to trust). The settings are small and confined.

Another gripe I had with this book in particular, is that the ending didn’t feel finished. The accomplishments Cia and her friends made in this series were small, and we don’t see a lot of pay off (outside of them staying alive). We don’t have a chance to see the government be overturned, or the testing truly stopped. We don’t really get to see Cia go home to her family. It feels like there should be another book… and there isn’t.

Overall, I did enjoy the book. I love Cia as a character, and I was interested to see the new ways she was challenged throughout the series, but if you’re looking for a satisfying conclusion, or a fast-paced battle of intelligence and will (as with the previous two books) you’re probably going to be disappointed. In my opinion, this is probably the weakest link in the Testing series.

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