Independent Study ~ by Joelle Charbonneau
This week one of the books that I finished was Independent Study by Joelle Charbonneau. This is the second book in her Testing series and the first book that my book club chose to read.
This book starts where the last one left off….the main character, Cia (Malencia) Vale, has passed “The Testing” and is now enrolled in the University. She has no memory of her time spent during the testing, but thanks to her brother Zeen’s transmitter, which she used to record the happenings during The Testing before her memory of the events were erased; she has reason to believe that something sinister happened.
Life at the University starts out well, just as one would expect. When time comes for the students to be chosen for their specific studies, Cia is chosen to work for the Government. It is not an assignment she is excited about, but she takes it like she does with everything; she will put her all into it. During this time, an older mentor student, Ian, tell Cia that they will soon be choosing candidates for internships. Cia hears what he’s saying: Either you make it or you’re eliminated (dead). During this time, Cia happens upon a building where students whom don’t make it are taken for “reassignment”. There she witnesses what really happens to the students who fail.
Again, Cia and others from the University are put through tests that require them to either survive or die. In the end, Cia and her group make it and become interns. While interning at the Government building, Cia discovers that there are two rebel factions that are trying to put an end to The Testing; one by peaceful means, the other planning on war. Cia is recruited to try to help uncover the truth of what happens during The Testing. Together with her boyfriend, Tomas, and a new ally, Raffe, Cia sets out to help bring down The Testing and its creator, Dr. Barnes.
I enjoyed this second book from The Testing series. Cia is a strong female protagonist that one is easily drawn to. Again, if you like reading Dystopian genre, this series is another excellent example. One of the largest surprises in this novel is how you are never able to fully trust any of the characters. Just when you think you understand a character, something happens. I think any student who loves reading Dystopian genre would find themselves drawn to The Testing series.
Shatter Me ~ by Tahereh Mafi
The second book I finished this week was the book Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi. This is the first book in her Shatter Me series; the latest to be released March 2018 titled Restore Me.
The first thing you notice when you begin the book, are the numbers (digit form) that are being used and the fact that there are words and sentences that have been struck through, as if they were not meant to be said. As we read, we begin to find that the numbers are associated to the length of time the main character has been locked up and how long it has been since any human contact. We also learn that this is a world that has been changed by some cataclysmic event.
Shatter Me is told from the first person point of view of its main character, Juliette Ferrars. She is being held because she possesses the ability to paralyze or kill people by touch. Soon, she is accompanied in the cell by a boy named Adam Kent. From Juliette’s thoughts, we learn that Adam was a childhood classmate, one of the only people that was ever nice to her. She recognizes Adam, but Adam doesn’t seem to recognize her.
We then learn that Juliette is actually being held by a group called the Reestablishment and their leader’s 19-year old son, Aaron Warner. Warner plans to use Juliette as a weapon in their war to take over the world. Juliette then finds out that Adam is also a soldier for the Reestablishment and was in charge of watching over her. This in turn, tears Juliette apart, until it is revealed that Adam actually is in love with Juliette and had himself “planted” into her cell to help her escape. Adam has actually been in love with Juliette since they were kids. We also discover that Adam can touch Juliette without anything happening to him.
Juliette and Adam escape from the Reestablishment and find themselves back at Adam’s house with Adam’s younger brother, James. During this time, a soldier from the Reestablishment shows up by the name of Kenji. He says he knows of a safe place for them to hide; weary, Juliette and Adam agree just as Warner and his group find them.
Juliette and Adam are caught, with Warner shooting Adam. Warner then proceeds to tell Juliette that he actually loves her, is also able to touch her, and they would be perfect together. Juliette ends up shooting Warner and escaping to find Kenji, who has Adam and James, and takes Juliette to an underground fortress.
Here we learn that Kenji is actually part of the Rebellion, an army lead by a man named Castle, who is preparing to overthrow the Reestablishment. Castle, along with many of the other members have “gifts” similar to Juliette’s. Juliette finally finds a place she feels she belongs and this is where the books ends…
I really enjoyed this book. I picked it as my YA romance novel, even though it was another dystopian novel. I was first afraid it would be like the other dystopian novels, but the way this one is written and structured really captured my attention. As I said earlier, one of the first things you notice are the words/sentences that have been struck out. These are the thoughts and emotions that Juliette tries to hide and in using this, it allows the reader to really understand her inner thoughts. Another structure that I really enjoyed were the short chapters. It made the book seem like such a quick read; more so than when author’s use long chapters. I have just discovered this about myself as a reader; I enjoy when chapters are shorter. I think this book would be appealing to anyone that enjoys a romance or dystopian novel. It does contain more romance than Hunger Games or The Testing; therefore I see this as appealing more to a female audience than male. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series to see where it goes.