The best leaders make mistakes and then learn from them. The best leaders never make the same mistakes again. The only way you can learn is if you understand the mistakes that were made.
Imagine a dystopian future where only certain people are selected to take the test to go to college. Then, that selection, once made, is not an option. If you are selected, you must participate in the testing. The testing itself is not as simple as filling in some blanks. And not everyone will complete the process. But, what happens to those who don't finish and will those who do finish ever be the same again?
I loved this book. Malencia (Cia) is a 16-year old girl with dreams of changing the world and making a difference. I enjoyed her character. She has doubts along the way but she tends to follow her instincts. She is fiercely loyal and, despite a warning not to trust anyone, she cannot help but trust people who have given her no reason to mistrust them.
While reading, I felt immersed in Cia's world. I could picture what the landscapes looked like after their world was destroyed by
the Seven Stages of War - The Four Stages of Destruction that humans wrought on one another and then the following Three Stages in which the earth fought back.
And I was afraid for her when she was out in the wilderness alone. There is plenty of danger and drama during the testing, including edge of your seat moments when you don't know who will survive and some surprises that I didn't see coming. And a love interest, but no real triangle (hooray!).
The minute I finished this book, I downloaded Independent Study and started reading. I couldn't wait to see what would happen next. It can be so satisfying to read a series after it has been completed, never having to wait for the next book to come out. But, sometimes I do like going crazy waiting for eagerly anticipating the next book.
Grades 6 and up (or high readers in 5th grade). There is some violence but it is not widespread. And, of course fans of YA Dystopian books. The writing, the characters, the story itself - all very well done.