The Testing Review
By: Ann Baillie
Have you ever heard of The Impossible Quiz? It’s an online game that is a fake quiz where none of the answers make sense, and the taker must use various tricks to figure out the right answers. Today I would like to add another question to this quiz. Q: I am reading a book in which a teenage, female lead is challenged both physically and mentally by having to see and do horrific things she never thought she would do while discovering unpleasant truths about her government in America after the apocalypse. What book am I reading?
- The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
- Divergent by Veronica Roth
- Legend by Marie Lu
- The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau
Answer: D Okay, if you read the title of this review, the answer is probably not surprising. But be honest: if you had just read the question, would you have been able to select The Testing? Probably not, and with good reason – this book is terrible. It lacks any sort of originality. It is so unoriginal that I find myself wondering what the publishing company’s motivations were for publishing this book. I imagine it was something like this – Publisher Executive A: You know what? A lot of teens read The Hunger Games. Publisher Executive B: Oh my gosh! You’re right! A: Did we publish that? B: Um… Let me check… No. A: Well, what about Divergent? B: Nope. A: We at least did Legend, right? B: Maybe. [Checks computer records]. I take that back, it’s a no. A: Well we need to get in on this trend somehow! B: Good point. How about we publish this one? [Pulls out that manuscript of The Testing] A: What is it? B: Trendy. A: Yay! Let’s do it – oh! And make it a trilogy! If my feelings about this book are not clear, let me be plain. The Testing is unoriginal, poorly written, the characters are poorly developed, and the plot line suffers from poor pacing. Charbonneau’s writing is among the worst I have ever experienced. Unless you are being tortured by a government after the apocalypse and thereby must, do not read this book.
The Nightmare Affair Review
By: Anne Baillie
The Here’s the first of twenty-five book reviews of the nominations for YALSA’s Teens’ Top Ten. Over the course of this summer, it is this reader’s goal to read and review them all, along with ending with a personal ranking of what the final Top Ten should be. This novel is The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett. It is the story of Dusty, a magical girl who is called a Nightmare (Arnett explains what that means), who with the help of her boyfriend Paul, her best friend Selene, and mysterious newcomer Eli, must solve the murder of another student of their school just for magical creatures. In writing this review, I spent a good fifteen minutes trying to think of a word to describe this book. It then occurred to me that Arnett has already used the only proper word: nightmare. The problems with this book are numerous and vast. The characters have little depth, especially the important characters, such as Selene and Dusty. What is so amazing about this is that the story is from Dusty’s perspective. I did not think it was possible to read a novel from a character’s perspective and still not fully understand the character’s motivation. The narrative’s other major problem is how predictable it is. From chapter 5, I predicted the end of the novel: which would be impressive, if not for the fact I predicted the most stereotypical ending. In fact, with the brief list of characters I used in the summary, you probably could predict the ending, too. The most surprising thing about The Nightmare Affair is why YALSA put it on the list. The only rating I can give this book is “surprisingly bad”.