Book Review: Independent Study by Joelle Charbonneau

Book Review: Independent Study by Joelle Charbonneau

You can’t handle Independent Study. It’s an intellectual thrill ride that will have your head spinning.

Book Review: Independent Study by Joelle Charbonneau

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Title & Author: Independent Study: The Testing, Book 2 by Joelle Charbonneau

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy – Dystopia, Science Fiction

Release Date: January 7, 2014

Series: The Testing #2

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers

How I Got the Book: Bought


“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.”


Test Results: Pass

That was a short wait! I just finished The Testing a few months ago! That doesn’t happen to me often, but when it does I get overly excited.

Despite what other reviewers have said, I don’t think this series is “just another dystopia.” What makes The Testing and Independent Study so great is Cia. Her intelligence, her cunning, and especially her desire for truth.

So far, that has been enough to happily drive me through these books and what makes it set apart from The Hunger Games and Divergent. There is more political maneuvering and strategy than either of those books, and it gives Independent Study an added edginess and grittiness.

You know when you’re reading about Cia’s experiences at Tosu that there’s always more at stake – a fact she can never shake herself. Just when she thinks she’s safe and can trust again, something happens that rips the veil of protection and well-being even further away.

Independent Study was definitely a strong follow-up. I appreciated the change of scene, the distance from Tomas (oh he’s there, but more out of reach) and the shifting surprises that were well-timed and well-played.

I’m hoping the final book takes a different turn because a few elements were similar from the first book in Independent Study. And, although they were reimagined, hitting that note again would definitely be tiresome.

Will the Final Book Shock Us?

Having had my heart pummeled quite recently by Allegient, I can’t help but be wary of the third Testing book, Graduation Day.

Will all my faves die? Will there be a realistic yet hopeful conclusion? Or will chaos and loss win the day?!?!

The best part is, we don’t have to wait long to find out. Graduation Day is set to publish June 17. Of this year! Shocked? Me too!

I’m not complaining and that’s for sure.


I’m committed to see this series through. Not that I have had any trouble devouring the first two books. I’m simply cautious about how the final book in this thrilling dystopia will all play out. This killer sequel had me hooked from the get-go. Cia is everything you could want in a strong heroine, and with more cunning and cleverness than most. Independent Study was a very strong sequel, and I wait without patience for the conclusion of the series.