Review: Dividing Eden (Dividing Eden #1) by Joelle Charbonneau

Title: Dividing Eden
Author: Joelle Charbonneau
Publisher/Year: Harper Collins 6/7/17
Length:   284 Pages
Series:  Dividing Eden #1


Twins Carys and Andreus were never destined to rule Eden. With their older brother next in line to inherit the throne, the future of the kingdom was secure.

But appearances—and rivals—can be deceiving. When Eden’s king and crown prince are killed by assassins, Eden desperately needs a monarch, but the line of succession is no longer clear. With a ruling council scheming to gain power, Carys and Andreus are faced with only one option—to take part in a Trial of Succession that will determine which one of them is worthy of ruling the kingdom.

As sister and brother, Carys and Andreus have always kept each other safe—from their secrets, from the court, and from the monsters lurking in the mountains beyond the kingdom’s wall. But the Trial of Succession will test the bonds of trust and family.

With their country and their hearts divided, Carys and Andreus will discover exactly what each will do to win the crown. How long before suspicion takes hold and the thirst for power leads to the ultimate betrayal?

My Thoughts

I really enjoyed The Testing so i was excited to see that there was a new series – and what we get here is that it’s nothing at all like the prior series and that is interesting to me.  The only similarity is that there’s a trial to name one of the twins ruler, but that’s about it.

So the story takes us on a path of a set of twins, who are best friends at the beginning, always looking out for one another especially since Dreus has a health situation that if found out, would be a problem, so Carys has spent her entire life protecting him.

When the time comes to pit them against one another, they take it in stride, knowing that they want the same outcome, yet when other people get in their ear, we see that it’s going to all go pear shaped.

There are a few nice twists in the story that keep us really engaged.  When they are born, the Seer sees that one of the twins has a ‘curse’ and that’s something that’s going to bring down the palace.  It’s noted that Dreus is really sick, and that identifies him as the one with the curse – or does it.  Then there’s the mystery of a new seer who comes to Eden, with a background unknown, and who’s engaged to the crown prince but who really has a tie elsewhere.

Add to that a Lord Garret who has family who wants him in power and a Trade Master named Errick who shows up- and we don’t now who’s the enemy or the ally and what’s going to happen.

We see the twins go through trials, trying to survive but Dreus gets his opinion clouded by so many others that ultimately he turns on Carys.  It’s what we see her come to do throughout the story that makes you wonder what’s really going on and what the end result will be.

We’re left at a point in the story when there’s one who’s crowned and one who’s died and there are still so many people out there who have their own motives that we’re still left with too much uncertainty.  I can’t wait to see what happens since i think that things are just starting to get interesting.

ARC Review: Need by Joelle Charbonneau


Title:  Need
Author: Joelle Charbonneau
Publisher/Year: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 11/03/15
Length: 352 pages


Teenagers at Wisconsin’s Nottawa High School are drawn deeper into a social networking site that promises to grant their every need . . . regardless of the consequences. Soon the site turns sinister, with simple pranks escalating to malicious crimes. The body count rises. In this chilling YA thriller, the author of the best-selling Testing trilogy examines not only the dark side of social media, but the dark side of human nature.

My Thoughts

First off – i love Joelle Charbonneau – after reading The Testing series i fell in love with her take on dystopia and this new book (series maybe?) is right up my alley.  Like the summary above says, the question that’s being posed really is what will get teens to act, do they know the difference between a want and a need and what lengths will they go to fulfill those?

In this book, each chapter is a different character’s story – granted there are maybe 10 characters that we follow so the chapters alternate as we get their stories on how they are fulfilling their tasks to get what they feel they ‘need’.  The interesting thing here that is part of it all is that Kaylee – our main character – she’s truly the only one who’s submitted a request for a ‘NEED’ and not a want.

To back up – her best friend Nate is over at her house one night and introduces her to a website that he found from his brother Jack  – this site asks you what you think you need and in return the initial ask is just to invite friends.  Nate’s brother got a new phone, and that’s all the prompting that  Nate needs to get on the bandwagon.  The issue of course though is that once everyone in the school has been invited and has joined, the ante is upped and there are more severe requests to be fulfilled to get what you need.  (which in most cases is just a want).  So nate gets Kaylee to join, and her ‘need’ is an actual need – to find a kidney for her brother who’s sick and as a result, she’s not asked to fulfill a task since it’s an actual NEED.

Through the process of this story – we see how Kaylee’s interactions with everyone manifests, and we see how everyone else in town is willing to do whatever they are told without real question – even if they wonder what the consequence will be.  In some cases it leads to murder and death, in some cases it leads to just destruction and fear.

The question that we’re forced to ask is who is behind NEED and what’s their real motivation.  Why are they giving kids things that they ‘need’ and asking for these awful tasks to be done.  Will we find out and what will that mean?  We also see that Kaylee’s looking for her father – and you have to know that something there is not going to end well.  It wouldn’t be such a focal point of her story if it were going to be good – so i think that the build up there was one that was done well.

Where we net out in the end is some what of a bit of closure yet a bit open ended as well which is why i wonder if we’ll get another installment.  We see that we’re able to identify who was behind it all but there’s a lead in to something more drastic to come and i wonder what that’s going to mean for everyone in town and elsewhere.  SO on that note, yet another winner from this author and i hope that you guys get a chance to track it down.  I have to thank my friends at Netgalley for hooking me up with this one – and if you can’t get it now, keep an eye out for it when it’s out in stores!

Review: Graduation Day (The Testing #3) by Joelle Charbonneau


Title: Graduation Day
Author:  Joelle Charbonneau
Publisher/Year:  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt  6/17/14
Length:  534 Pages
Series: The Testing #3


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.

The Final Test is the Deadliest!

My Thoughts

I really enjoyed the finale to this series.  While i compared the first installment to THG i think that the path that our lovely author took was VERY different and really impressive.  In this third and final installment, we see that Cia has to figure out who to trust, how to get things back in order and understand what that means for her and her friends.  As you remember from the 2nd book, Cia has an internship in the President’s office and this means that she’s privvy to certain information.  The challenge also means that it makes her a target for the rebels since she knows more than she should.

What we get in this story is the journey that she goes on to understand who she’s grown into, trusting her instincts or trusting the people who are in power, and then understanding what to do with it.  While the other stories gave us the journey of getting through the phases of testing and trying to survive in the university, this story takes us on more of a survival tale, keeping herself safe while trying to help do the right thing for the commonwealth.

Ms. Charbonneau does something great here – she makes the supporting characters really important and we get to learn more about them in an unobtrusive way.  We continue to see Tomas in the same light that we always have, although is feature in this story was maybe less so than in the past – he’s really supporting – and more of a tertiary character.  Raffe on the other hand – we get to know him a lot more, and i think that we’re constantly challenged to understand which side he’s on.  Enzo and Will are the same in this story as well.  They play important roles, but again, Cia’s challenged to understand who can be trusted and what their motivations are.  The other one – Ian – well i think that we began to see what he was in the 2nd book when we were really introduced to him and while he’s in book 3, he’s not as major as i would have expected.

Through the course of this book, Cia learns things about herself that she didn’t know, her journey and she begins to uncover the secrets of the Commonwealth and what the testing is about.  I think that I began to question whether or not i was on the ride side of believing things as well, and those characters (the politicals) that i felt were right before, well, i wonder still if they are.

At the end, there’s a lot of death, to be expected when rebels are involved, and i think that some were necessary and some were not.  I’m still quite sad about one of the deaths, since i think that maybe that person deserved a different ending, but the sacrifice that was made seems justified so i guess it wasn’t for naught.  (like the word there?)  The others, well i think that we knew many of those would not see the end of the book.

We get some of the closure that we were hoping for, but i’m still not sure what’s to be in store for the future.  the one miss that i find with this book is that there wasn’t an epilogue.  While we get a final chapter, it’s not really what i was hoping for – it gives us a glimpse about 3 weeks into the future, but nothing substantial and that’s really the one thing that i would change.  we’ve become accustomed to fast forwards in this genre, and i was hoping that we would get that here.  Oh well.

Review: Independent Study (The Testing #2) by Joelle Charbonneau


Title:  Independent Study
Author:  Joelle Charbonneau
Publisher/Year:  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 1/7/14
Length:  320 Pages
Series: The Testing #2


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.

My Thoughts

I knew that i wasn’t going to be disappointed in this 2nd installment since i love the genre, and The Testing and ‘Study Guide’ were both really great.  In this 2nd book, we come upon the group of students that had passed through the testing and are in their ‘Early Studies’ while they are waiting to find out what their Area of Study will be.  There’s a lot of tension of course though because as was the case in the Testing, if you don’t pass, you fail, and if you fail, you get redirected and no one quite knows what that means.  Because of this Cia is extra nervous because she’s worried that she won’t pass, and while taking her exam, she doesn’t have enough time to fully complete it so she’s worried that she will be redirected.

Low and behold though, she passes and instead of being placed in her preferred area of study (Mechanical Engineering), she’s put into Government, the area that she’s LEAST excited about, and this worries her more since she feels like this is setting her up to fail even more.  That’s not where her troubles end of course.  As an ‘Induction’ test for the department, she and the other first years have to go through a challenge that will determine who’s a good leader, and who maybe isn’t strong enough to make it.  Through this test, Cia continues to be challenged on who she can trust and who’s out to see her fail.

She makes it through the test of course, but obstacles keep getting thrown at her.  If you remember Michal from the first book, the official that was on Cia’s side and helped her out a bit, well, he’s back and plays a large role.  He’s there with his own mission, perhaps not with the agenda of the government of course, and he’s trying to direct Cia in the right ways to both survive and to help his cause. Cia and Tomas are still together in this book ,and since she trusts him (sort of), she enlists his help in managing through these first years.

What makes this story great though is that there’s a LOT going on and why in the Dystopian genre, much is expected, the path to get there is amazing.

Cia begins to get some of her memories back from the Testing, and paired with what she recorded on the transit communicator that she took from her brother makes her wonder who/what she can trust

Cia’s guide Ian and her confidante Michal seem to be leading her in a direction and protecting her all the same – and what does that mean for her future?

We learn that the heads of the Testing and University have it out for Cia and wonder what this will mean to her success and survival.  Will she manage through her 9 classes (most students have 5, even the heaviest workload historically other than Cia has been 7) or will she fail?

Will she get a coveted internship and where will that lead her

Rebels, rebels, rebels.  what does that all mean for everyone’s safety and future?  We begin to learn that there’s not just 1 rebel faction but 2

Redirection – what does that mean – really.  What this brings to mind when we get a sense of what happens is The Hunger Games and District 13.  Mind you i really hate to draw comparisons between stories  i try not to do it, but in this sense, i think that it’s interesting.  We’re constantly told throughout the series that if students are redirected because they are found not to have the skillset that is needed for their job, they are sent to other colonies to work.  We don’ think that this is the case given that Cia and Tomas have NO recollection of anyone coming to Five Lakes that wasn’t from there or was an official.  so, does it mean that they are killed? or sent out to areas that aren’t revitalized yet?  curiosity here on my part, and i’m sure that Cia will figure it out.

So, the ending of this bridge book in the trilogy was both surprising, and saddening.  I’m a bit surprised on the turn of events of the final chapters, but i’m not surprised on the actions that are implied for book 3.  I can’t wait until Graduation Day comes out – it can’t come out soon enough in my opinion.  I love the perspective that this story has taken so far on what the earth has become after war and environmental upheaval….and i can’t wait to see who will survive and thrive.  enjoy!

Review: the Testing Guide (The Testing Trilogy #0.5) by Joelle Charbonneau


Title:  The Testing Guide
Author: Joelle Charbonneau
Publisher/Year:  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt  5/1/13
Length:  40 pages
Series: The Testing #0.5


In the scarred and war-battered United Commonwealth, ten-year-old Cia Vale watches her older brother Zeen dream about being chosen for The Testing. He’s graduated at the top of his class, and being chosen, like his father was before him, means a chance to attend The University and help lead the effort to revitalize postwar civilization. Cia is conflicted—she hopes Zeen is chosen, but dreads him leaving home. She also realizes that one day she too must set her mind on being chosen. But does she realize the deadly path she will have to take?

My Thoughts

i’m always one for a different POV or a novella of a book that i’ve enjoyed so this was a nice chapter or 2 for us to read – getting a bit of the fore-shadowing of the story.  it kind of makes you hope that there’s more that we get to learn about with Zeen and i kind of hope that we get to read a full story on Zeen and see what he can do for the commonwealth or for whatever cause Cia and ‘their side’ is on.

I kind of wish that there was something more that we could get from this, but again it was just a prequel and not a full novella – so my expectations are met i suppose 🙂

Review: The Testing (The Testing #1) by Joelle Charbonneau


Title:  The Testing
Author: Joelle Charbonneau
Publisher/Year:  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt  6/4/13
Length:  344 pages
Series: The Testing #1


It’s graduation day for sixteen-year-old Malencia Vale, and the entire Five Lakes Colony (the former Great Lakes) is celebrating. All Cia can think about—hope for—is whether she’ll be chosen for The Testing, a United Commonwealth program that selects the best and brightest new graduates to become possible leaders of the slowly revitalizing post-war civilization. When Cia is chosen, her father finally tells her about his own nightmarish half-memories of The Testing. Armed with his dire warnings (”Cia, trust no one”), she bravely heads off to Tosu City, far away from friends and family, perhaps forever. Danger, romance—and sheer terror—await.

My Thoughts

Think Hunger Games but….maybe a bit ‘dirtier/edgier’?  I’ve had this book in my elibrary for quite some time now, and i’m not sure what my hesitation was in reading it.  Let’s just say – HANDS DOWN THRILLED that i read it finally.

I’m not one to draw similarities among books, but i’m sure that anyone who reads this first book of the series will see that there are comparisons that can be made between The Testing and Hunger Games.  That being said, i still really enjoyed it.

Taking place in the future, after the world has self destruct through a variety of bombings, and 7 horrific feats (some man made some natural sort of) and the population is only bits of what it was, and are scattered around the country in ‘colonies’ .  Tosu City places the capital role here and where all things governmental stem from.

We meet Malencia a 16 yr old on the night of her graduation from ‘high school’ i suppose when things are going to change for her.  She’s from a smaller colony where for the past 10 years or so at least, no one has been selected for the Testing. it’s odd, but i suppose it happens right.  there are rumors that an official from Tosu City will be at the ceremony which makes people wonder if one of the graduates have been selected.  i believe that there were maybe 14 kids in the class so the liklihood of Cia being the one, well, surprisingly higher.

While no one is selected at the ceremony, we soon learn the next day that not only has 1 person been chosen, but 4 have.  Thomas, Malachi and Zandri.  This story that we follow in The Testing centers around the relationship that Cia and Thomas develop both on an emotional level and really just to survive.

The Testing is a series of survival tests, to see who has the skills to reinvigorate the world, to develop things that seem lost, and to lead the continent into the future as a power.  The question really becomes what are they looking for in the future of the United Commonwealth, and do either Cia or Thomas have what it takes.

Survival of the fittest

May the smartest one win

who can out strategize the ‘man’ who controls it all

and is someone a pawn?

Throughout this story, similar to what we saw with Katniss in THG, Cia is quick to notice when things aren’t always what they seem and uses it to her advantage.  She’s an honest player and competitor, and that works for her benefit.  The folks that she meets on her journey just add to the confusion and tease what we hope to see in the next few books.  Michal for sure, the gray haired man from the journey – Zeen and her father – all people that i can’t wait to learn more about and how they affect things.

A few questions that come up to me:

1) what will happen with Cia and Thomas

2) What’s the story with Michal

3) will they ever see their families again

4) what will they remember and what will they forget

5) what’s the motive behind everything?  who can you trust.

so….now i can’t wait for book 2 to come out.  it’s not here fast enough! Thinking that i have to wait until january unless i can get my hands on an ARC