Published: January 7th, 2014
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Copy: Publisher through Edelweis
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.
Back in June I reviewed the first book in this series 'The Testing' and I really enjoyed it. So of course I was a little apprehensive when I started Independent Study, just in case it didn't measure up. No worries - no worries at all. Independent Study was every bit as good. Not better, but definitely just as good.
I found it really easy to step back into this world that Ms. Charbonneau has created and to relate once again to her characters. It was very interesting to see these characters after having their minds wiped and their memories of the testing erased. This time around we are introduced in more detail to some that we met before and we also get to know some new characters. So many of the adults in this story have that aura of dishonesty about them, but that of course could just be because we're seeing them through Cia's eyes. She doesn't know who to trust or what is going on really, but she is sure that whatever it is, she has to stop it.
There is a nice gentle romance going on in the background. Nothing too complex, but not too straight forward either and there is just enough uncertainty to keep it interesting. On another level, Ms Charbonneau is definitely not afraid to kill off her characters, so be prepared for upsets.
Yet again there are a whole host of surprises and the events take place with mystery and tension in spades. This series is a worthy successor to The Hunger Games - entrance exams should never be like this! I really do not want to wait another year to find out what happens.