DIVERGENT meets MATCHED and THE HUNGER GAMES in this taut dystopian thriller. Valencia “Cia” Vale is disappointed at her graduation day when she is not chosen for The Testing to get into University, but then again, no one from her colony has been chosen in 10 years. The following day, she and three other teens are summoned to the leader’s house to discover that they have, in fact, been chosen. She has one night to pack and say goodbye to her family, possibly forever. After candidates pass the Testing, they are matched to careers and sent anywhere the leaders deem appropriate.
"Terrifying and vivid, the Testing process will keep readers in thrall. Nothing goes as expected in this exciting first adventure of a new trilogy."
Cia is from Five Lakes, a colony trying to rebuild after the Seven Stages War. It was formerly known as the Great Lakes Region. Her father and brothers have talent for plant growth in difficult conditions, and her father went through Testing. But what he tells her before he leaves chills her. He talks about nightmares of survival and terrible things happening to people he knew. As memory is wiped after the Testing, he is not certain what is truth or mind tricks, but he tells her to trust no one. Instead of wearing fancy clothes to go to Tosu City as many other students do, she packs survival clothes and gear so she can be ready for anything.
She has to trust someone, and so she confides in Tomas, also from Five Lakes, after she discovers cameras all around on the trip to Tosu City. The leader taking them to the Testing, Michal, seems to like her and want to help her, but she can’t be sure. When they arrive, she fears her new roommate is trying to poison her, but after an argument, something terrible happens to the girl. Cia does not know who to believe about what happened. More of her new friends and other candidates meet terrible ends, and Cia uses all her wits to try and pass each test. She and Tomas begin storing food and readying themselves for the last and ultimate test. They find themselves alone together more often and begin falling for each other.
The final stage finds the remaining teens dropped alone in the wilderness. They must make their way back with no map or help. In fact, many dangerous beasts and plants exist in the terrain. Some are feral beasts that are half human. Some of the choices Cia is forced to make when attacked haunt her.
Readers will recognize Chicago and St. Louis in their post war state as she and Tomas pass through. Through the difficult conditions, it is obvious that others are trying to kill them to increase their own chances of being chosen for University. The bond between her and Tomas grows and Cia believe she is falling in love, but she begins to doubt him after she returns from an expedition to find him secretive. She begins to fear what will happen if they both do not survive and also what will happen if they do.
Terrifying and vivid, the Testing process will keep readers in thrall. Nothing goes as expected in this exciting first adventure of a new trilogy.