Release Date: January 7th, 2014
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Rating: 4 STARS
In the series debut The Testing, sixteen-year-old Cia Vale was chosen by the United Commonwealth government as one of the best and brightest graduates of all the colonies . . . a promising leader in the effort to revitalize postwar civilization. In Independent Study, Cia is a freshman at the University in Tosu City with her hometown sweetheart, Tomas—and though the government has tried to erase her memory of the brutal horrors of The Testing, Cia remembers. Her attempts to expose the ugly truth behind the government’s murderous programs put her—and her loved ones—in a world of danger. But the future of the Commonwealth depends on her.
Wow. This book totally caught me off guard. I honestly didn't think I would like this books as much as I did. I definitely enjoyed Independent Study more than The Testing. While the beginning was a bit meh and un-intriguing, it picks up and it's a whirlwind that I was able to keep pace of. Action packed with a hint of thrill, Independent Study takes dystopian and education to a new level. A whole new step from The Testing, that seemed like a different version of The Hunger Games, and more original as tragic as some parts are. The rebellion is mentioned and takes the focus of the main plot and there was a lot of reasonable progress withing the plot and story.
Cia was a character I finally kinda got to relate to and she didn't really irritate me as much as the first book. I feel like she grew a whole new perspective which added to her maturity. The only thing that I question about her character is how perfect she is. Like she can EVERYTHING. And if there's something she can't do, she knows HOW to and it's like I'm hesitant to know if that's just part of her personality or was just made to be one of those super awesome heroines. The only sad thing that has happened through her life, is death, as tragic as it sounds. But I feel like there should also be a part of her that's kinda crumbling as she experiences more death.
There are quite a lot more characters introduced in this story and that I was so happy about. The new characters helped in seeing how the Tosu students would be like and the different personalities of all of them. My favorite character is Enzo. Quiet and mysterious, he definitely has a bigger role than what's shown. It would have been awesome if there was more friend interaction between him and Cia. Raffe, another new face, was not someone who I thought would be a primary character. He was cool and I liked his loyalty toward Cia. And not to worry felllow Testing lovers, Tomas, Will, and other characters are still mentioned and part of the story to an extent. Will was much more involved in Cia's life/story than I thought would happen. Not so much of a good thing but nor a bad thing.
Ok the only thing that put me off in the first book and in this book is her relationship with Tomas. It could just be me and my feelings for his lack of hero-ism/ness. He wasn't that focused into the book. I like that Cia's relationship didn't cloud her judgement but the lack of him in the book didn't help my original thoughts of him. There's no chemistry between them and I honestly don't see the love between them. Like? Yes. Love? Not so much. Honestly, I would ship her with Enzo or even Raffe if there was an inkling of a possibility one of them liked her.
Independent Study does take a 180 spin and helps with character and plot development. A lot more progressive events occurred that helped tie the plot together. A definite read for dystopian readers. If you loved The Testing, you will love what Joelle Charbonneau has in store for you in this book. A mixed feelings person of The Testing? Read it and give it a chance. I did and I was delighted by what I read :) Happy Readings!!