DNF Q&A: THE TESTING by Joelle Charbonneau

I received this book for free from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. This in no way affected my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

DNF Q&A: THE TESTING by Joelle Charbonneau
The Testing
The Testing #1

Written by: Joelle Charbonneau
Published by: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Release date: June 4th 2013
Genres: Dystopian, Sci-Fi, Young Adult
Pages: 336
Source: NetGalley
Format: select
Buy: B&N, Amazon
Add on: Goodreads

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Isn't that what they say? But how close is too close when they may be one in the same?

The Seven Stages War left much of the planet a charred wasteland. The future belongs to the next generation's chosen few who must rebuild it. But to enter this elite group, candidates must first pass The Testing—their one chance at a college education and a rewarding career.

Cia Vale is honored to be chosen as a Testing candidate; eager to prove her worthiness as a University student and future leader of the United Commonwealth. But on the eve of her departure, her father's advice hints at a darker side to her upcoming studies--trust no one.

But surely she can trust Tomas, her handsome childhood friend who offers an alliance? Tomas, who seems to care more about her with the passing of every grueling (and deadly) day of the Testing. To survive, Cia must choose: love without truth or life without trust.

One of the main reasons I try and power through a book that I’m not enjoying is so that I can write an informed and thorough review. But there’s always that part of me that says, Why are you doing this?! You’re not enjoying it, and look at your TBR pile! So I’ll DNF the book, and consider that time pretty much wasted… But then I realized that I actually like reading people’s thoughts on books that they DNF’ed. Just like with negative reviews, I like finding out the reasons why someone disliked a book, so I can inform my own book-buying decisions. But personally, I could never write an actual “review” or give a real star-rating to something I didn’t fully invest my time in. Sooooo… I’ve decided to try out something new: a DNF Q&A.

This will (hopefully) be a very infrequent feature here at TWBI, and I’ll only utilize it when I feel I actually have something to say about the book. But I have some questions for you, as well: Do you really like/dislike any of the questions below? Do you want to suggest additional ones? Do you dislike any and all kinds of DNF write-ups and think this was the worst idea ever??? ;) Leave a comment! I’m genuinely curious whether anyone finds this kind of thing helpful like I do, so let me know your opinions!



Did you really give The Testing a chance?

I feel like I did, yes. I read 110 pages (1/3rd of the book), and it took me almost three weeks to get that far. I kept putting it down and reading other things, and then picking it back up to give it another chance, but it never grabbed me. This happened too many times for me to remember, so I had to just call this one a miss.

Have you enjoyed other books of the same genre?

Definitely. Hunger Games, Divergent… I am a big fan of dystopian YA.

Had you been looking forward to this book in particular? Why?

Yes! I’d read more than a few good reviews, and it sounded like a book I would really enjoy.

What ultimately made you stop reading?

The Testing just wasn’t for me, and there is one huge reason why: I couldn’t connect! For some reason I found myself totally distanced from the story and feeling like there was very little emotion to it; Cia may have said she was feeling nervous/scared/relieved, but I never felt those emotions reflected in her actions or narration. And despite the book being in the present tense, I didn’t feel like Cia was telling us about these events and her feelings as she experienced them – her clinical tone felt oddly distanced from the present tense narrative. It ended up coming across as emotionless, to me. I also found Cia’s tendency to describe conversations (rather than actually include dialog) a little odd.

Was there anything you liked about The Testing?

I actually really liked the concept and the plot. After a series of wars, the planet is a wreck, and civilization is split up into a bunch of different colonies all dealing with different hardships from their locations (yeah, like The Hunger Games). Cia is chosen to participate in a series of tests that determine whether those chosen have the potential to be the country’s leaders. But she’s warned by her father that something sinister might be going on, and she heads off to The Testing with the feeling that she can’t trust anyone. It had potential!

Would you read any other books by this author?

If the synopsis sounded good, I think I would, yes. I’d at least give it a chance.

So you DNF’ed the book – but would you still recommend it to anyone?

Actually, yes. I can tell from other reviews that a lot of people really enjoyed it, so if this sounds like a book that would interest you, and you’re not as picky as I am about the things I mentioned above, I’d recommend downloading a sample of the eBook, or checking out the first chapter in the bookstore to see what you think.

26 thoughts on “DNF Q&A: THE TESTING by Joelle Charbonneau

  1. This q&a thing is a great idea! It tells me everything I need to know about the book and and what issues you had with it…loves! Maybe I’ll knock this one down a few dozen spots on my TBR pile. :)

    • Thank goodness! I was really nervous about this, lol. I couldn’t write a real review, but felt I did have some things to contribute… anyway, I’m glad you found it helpful!

        • Hey Nikki!
          So I have several books that I’ve DNF’d lately and was wondering if you’d be okay if I used to this Q&A format to talk about it? I’ve loved the idea since you first started it (to the point where I even remembered which book you done it for – hence my commenting here) think it’s the perfect way to talk about a book fairly without actually reviewing it. I would absolutely cite you as the originator of the idea if you’re okay with me using it. What do you think?

          • Haha, of course you can, Niki! Credit is appreciated, especially if you use any of my same questions. Thanks for asking! And for liking it enough to use yourself! ^_^

  2. I like the Q&A concept! I might have to lovingly borrow it as well ;-). I’m definitely one of the people who loved The Testing so I’m sorry you didn’t have a good time :( I appreciated this format to give me a good idea what was wrong for you and whether you still think others would like the book in question. It made me feel better for having a different opinion too ;-)

    • Feel free to borrow it! I’m sure it’s been done before, lol.

      I remembered that you loved the book, which was actually one reason why I really didn’t want to DNF! But I’m glad you liked this format. I definitely wanted to make sure my opinions didn’t turn people off the book, but just gave them an idea why I didn’t care for it. Thanks Anya!

  3. I thought this was a great idea when I saw you mention it on Twitter! I think it really helps highlight your struggle with the book, but in a respectful and insightful way that shouldn’t put people off. Based off what you said, I could totally understand why you decided to DNF. Connecting to the book and characters is pretty much the most important thing, without it, little can be done. Great idea, and for your own sake I hope you don’t have to use it often ;)

    • Thank you SO much, Asti! I hope this is a very infrequent feature, as well… ;) And thanks for your help with question ideas, too!

    • I’m so glad you said that, Nicole – I didn’t want to totally turn people off the book, just explain why it wasn’t for me. I really hope you enjoy it!

    • Thank you, Megan! I was really nervous because I know a lot of people loved it, but I’m glad you thought my format was fair. I’m really glad you liked the book!! :)

  4. I love this idea! I think it’s a great format for talking about a book you didn’t finish, and WHY you didn’t finish it. I agree, I also like to know why people DNF a book, even if it’s not in a formal review format. I hope you’ll continue this for any future DNFs, and I hope you don’t mind if I borrow your idea (if I need to!).

  5. Great DNF Q&A! I am one of those reviewers who loved The Testing, but even so, I think it’s interesting to read what didn’t click for you, and why you couldn’t continue to read it! And I think doing a Q&A instead of a review like you normally do is an excellent idea. It’s difficult to specifically say what it is that makes us stop reading a book, and asking yourself (and the people reading your blog) some questions to try to figure it out really worked.

    I hope you’ll enjoy your next book so much you can’t put it down, and that you’ll have to try to not sound too gushing in your review :)

    • Thank you Lexxie! I’m really glad the format worked for you. And I’m really happy to say, I’m currently reading Siege and Storm, soooooo… yeah. LOVING IT. :D

  6. Oh no, I hope I like this book better than you since I’ve pre-ordered it! Eek! Still, I appreciate what you said, that it was the fact that you didn’t connect and not that you thought the whole thing was trash. And I think the DNF Q&A format worked well.

    • I definitely don’t think it was all horrible, I just don’t enjoy reading books that I don’t feel emotionally invested in, that’s all. I really hope you’re able to connect and enjoy it, though!

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  8. l like reading DNF and negative reviews and I really like your Q&A approach as well :) The Testing does sound interesing (though I have never heard of it before) and I’m a big fan of dystopian YA, but I’m afraid that I’m at least as picky if not pickier than you. The emotional connection with the characters is one of the must haves for me in order to enjoy a book. So, I don’t think I’ll be picking this up, but great DNF review! :)

  9. I love this idea! I know not everyone is comfortable writing DNF reviews, so I think this is an amazing compromise! You get to share your thoughts (and thus, justify whatever time you did spend reading the book; win-win!) and we get to see what didn’t work for you in order to make a better informed decision for ourselves.

  10. So sad to hear you didn’t like this one! I really enjoyed it. This is a great way to share why you DNF’ed a book. I recently had to do this and still have yet to publish anything as to why I stopped reading it. I didn’t know how to go about doing so. I hated that I quit reading it but you said it perfectly, “You’re not enjoying it, and look at your TBR pile!” That’s exactly what I kept telling myself. I may try out a format like this if you don’t mind!

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