Graduation Day by Joelle Charbonneau – Review

July 2, 2014

Graduation Day by Joelle Charbonneau is the third and final book in The Testing trilogy.  It continues the story of Cia Vale, survivor of the brutal University entrance exam known as TheTesting, University student and rebel as she attempts to end The Testing.  i have enjoyed both previous books and enjoyed reading the ending of the story.

What I liked

The protagonist.  I really liked Cia as a YA protagonist.  She has her head on her shoulders and gives great consideration to the consequences of her actions.  She’s very much of the watch and wait mould.  That doesn’t mean she doesn’t take action, but she doesn’t act without thinking.  These character traits are what lead to her central position in the drama.  The story would have played very differently with a Katniss Everdeen or a Tris Prior as the protagonist.

The themes.  The theme of Testing is continued throughout the series.  This is continued in Graduation Day when Cia must test the loyalty of those she wishes to have as allies, and she herself continues to be tested in more ways that one as she seeks to end the horrific University entrance exam.  Trust is also a major theme in Graduation Day as Cia must decide whom to place her trust.

The pacing.  The pacing kept moving along briskly and kept me turning the pages.

What I didn’t like

Mockingjay.  Two leaders, one rebel, one elected, both telling two different stories.  Teen heroine must work out which of them is telling the truth and the future of her society rests on her decision.  Sound familiar?  In my review of The Testing I commented that it had similar themes and plot points to The Hunger Games, and I’m seeing the same in the final book of the series.  In all fairness, given that the characters involved are very different – and indeed Cia’s personality is of key importance – things play out in quite another way,  I suspect this was partly deliberate by Charbonneau to bring the characterisation of her protagonist to the fore.  

Questions not answered.  One of my biggest issues with the series was that, in a society where a reduced population is a serious issue, the government would ruthlessly cull a significant number of its brightest young citizens.  I’m not certain that the answer given in Graduation Day really explains things to my satisfaction.

Despite these minor quibbles, I did really enjoy Graduation Day and The Testing trilogy.  It’s definitely a thought provoking series.  I gave Graduation Day four stars out of five.

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