Pub Writes

About the publishing Industry, editorials, and reviews

Independent Study by Joelle Charbonneau

Posted by Caitie F on January 5, 2014

Title: Independent StudyIndie Study
Author: Joelle Charbonneau
Hardcover: 320 pages
Pub Date: January 7, 2014
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Rating: +++++

Summary from pub:

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.


I thought The Testing was incredible and it reminded me of The Hunger Games. This book was also incredible, but it was even better than Catching Fire, and I loved that book.

Cia is still a wonderful main character. She has some idea of what happened during the Testing, so she is very wary of the others, especially the students from Tosu City who did not have to go through it. Her intelligence and natural instincts continue to be at the core of who she is. Does she do some risky things? Of course, it is a dystopian book with death on the line. Yet she thinks, acts, and responds as a leader should.

This book is still about what you would do to become a leader, but it is handled in much different ways. There are competitions and tests, but there are also more ways to work together and encourage others a little more. Not everyone is to be trusted, but there is more trust in this book.

If you dislike books that foreshadow too much what is going to happen, don’t worry, that does not happen in this book. I was reading it in public and I am sure others keep looking at me weirdly because I kept gasping at my book.

The other great thing about this book is that it wasn’t filler, even though it was the second book in a trilogy. Some of the book was set-up, but it didn’t feel that it was just setting up the big action of the final book. The book had events and consequences to those events. There were game changers, but they weren’t thrown in at the very last sentence (I am looking at you Catching Fire). Events mattered, conversations mattered.

This book brings up so many questions about life. What makes a good leader? Are the best leaders those who don’t ask for it? Can leadership be taught? Where are the lines between right and wrong? Would you change your mind on how to react to something differently if it didn’t affect you? There are so many questions about society that I am still thinking about it over a week after I finished the book.

This is a wonderful sequel and I want the last book now.


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