The Testing (The Testing #1)
Published June 4, 2013 by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Is this a The Hunger Games knock-off? The odds are ever in your favor ... so yes. It absolutely is. A completely unabashed, blatant knock-off.
That being said, it is a good knock-off. I enjoyed it thoroughly once I accepted the similarities between the two books. The plot is basically the same as Hunger Games - except in The Testing, the applicants want to go to the Testing (Hunger Games) because if they pass, they can go on to University and their families back home get compensation.
The main character - Cia - is a clever, resourceful, smart, lucky, strong heroine who falls in love with her travel companion/fellow applicant. Sound familiar? I know, I know. But just as I loved Katniss, I thought Cia was awesome. Slightly flat at first, but she is developed further as she loses her innocence during the phases of Testing.
The majority of the book is focused on the 4th phase of The Testing, which makes sense, because it is the most exciting and longest test the applicants must go through. Traveling in a designated area, they must reach their goal any way they can. Killing is neither encouraged nor discouraged. Some applicants are good. But most turn vicious. It's sad that the author decides to put forth the theme that people are intrinsically bad - and will revert to base instincts whenever possible. I agree there is evil in the world, but I have hope that people at least have the desire to be better and to do better things. Am I naive? Probably. But I still lock my doors and keep my wallet safe. I ain't stupid.
There is some mild swearing and some violence (obviously, since it's Hunger Games reincarnated).
Anyway ... if you liked the Hunger Games, you'll probably like this. It's basically the same. Hopefully Number Two in this series will go in a different direction than Catching Fire did. I'll read it when it comes out and let you know.