For fans of Game of Thrones and The Hunger Games: high fantasy and dystopia meet in this high-stakes tale of a civilization built on lies and the girl who single-handedly brings it down.
When Eva’s twin brother, Eamon, falls to his death just a few months before he is due to participate in The Testing, no one expects Eva to take his place. She’s a Maiden, slated for embroidery classes, curtseys, and soon a prestigious marriage befitting the daughter of an Aerie ruler. But Eva insists on honoring her brother by becoming a Testor. After all, she wouldn’t be the first Maiden to Test, just the first in 150 years.
Eva knows the Testing is no dance class. Gallant Testors train for their entire lives to search icy wastelands for Relics: artifacts of the corrupt civilization that existed before The Healing drowned the world. Out in the Boundary Lands, Eva must rely on every moment of the lightning-quick training she received from Lukas—her servant, a Boundary native, and her closest friend now that Eamon is gone.
But there are threats in The Testing beyond what Lukas could have prepared her for. And no one could have imagined the danger Eva unleashes when she discovers a Relic that shakes the Aerie to its core.
Released: October 29th 2013 Pages: 288
Publisher: Soho Teen Source: Purchased
First Look: ***** I originally picked this up for a dollar at a local book fair, thinking it was an alternate cover of this other book named Relic. Both came out in 2013. Both have similar covers. Both involve, well, relics.
Were Soho Teen and Entangled Teen just lazy, or what?
I'd rather have the other Relic, but since this one was only a dollar, I thought I might as well give it a go.
Setting: ***** The premise starts out just like only a thousand other YA dystopian settings: because humankind is as evil as a Disney villain, we let climate change happen, and floods ravaged the world, creating war, starvation, and general chaos. And that's where this book diverts: instead of sticking around to create the Hunger Games, the few survivors of humanity fled to create a new society in the Arctic. Because...winter is coming? Who knows? From there, we see one of the most nonsensical settings I've ever read.
The new society has somehow morphed back into a place where women are treated as they were in the 1800s. Young women are even called "maidens", which essentially means that they have to be demure, cultured, and reserved. And they have to leave all the important things to the men. Thanks, but no thanks. Society doesn't just backtrack this quickly.
Characters: ***** Meet Eva. She just lost her brother, and sometimes she's sad about that. More often, though, she's concerned about things that are obviously more important, like whether or not that cute boy Jasper likes her. She doesn't speak her mind because her society forbids it. In fact, she spends almost as much time thinking about how society tells her to act as she does thinking about Jasper.
Yeah. It's about as interesting as it sounds.
She has no depth, no personality. She does whatever she's told, except when she decides to try a small little rebellion. And then she's praised for it, for no reason, in a society that does not allow rebellion. She doesn't have any traits to make her likable, since she hardly has any traits at all.
Everyone else is just as much of a cardboard cutout. The only one who is slightly interesting is Lukas (who suddenly becomes the love interest, out of nowhere), but his story is pushed to the wayside.
Plot: ***** The entire plot revolves around something called the Testing, which involves sending several teenagers on a mad dog sled chase through the wilderness. Then they must survive a night camped in the Arctic. Then they have to mine "artifacts" from 21st-century civilization from the ice. When they find something, they write a cautionary tale about it. Whoever finds the best thing wins. The second half of this Testing makes sense to me. The first half doesn't. If it's all about the artifacts anyway, why bother sending them on the life-threatening race? If it's the artifacts that win them the Testing, why would they care about racing at all?
And yet, despite her qualms, Eva undertakes the Testing. And--spoiler alert--she wins. Surprise surprise. Even though she isn't the fastest and doesn't find the best artifact, she still somehow wins. Probably because everyone and their brother, it seems, wants to illegally help her. Throughout the whole thing, there's absolutely no tension. Even though she does encounter a few stumbling blocks, the plot is so predictable that they hardly matter.
The description implies that this book is about a girl who brings down a corrupted civilization by herself. Who "shakes the Aerie to its core". Another spoiler--this does not happen. Sure, everyone loves her unconventional writing about her artifact, but once she gets back, it's just same old, same old. Maybe this society-shaking happens in the next book, but then it shouldn't be mentioned here.
Uniqueness: ***** Meh. We've all seen the climate-change-turned-society's-clock-backwards thing over and over. Other than that, nothing about it feels like it copied from something else, but it has nothing unique enough to stand out, either.
Writing: ***** The narration isn't great, but more of my focus went toward how much I disliked other aspects. Still, a few sentences are awkward. So much of it is just Eva thinking, "Oh, I can't do this, I can't do that. It's not what a Maiden would do!" It gets old really fast. It doesn't make me want to like the character, and it's annoying and repetitive.
Not-so-great: Can we stop comparing books to Game of Thrones? Game of Thrones is a TV show. A Song of Ice and Fire is the book series. A Game of Thrones is the first book. If you're going to make a comparison to a book, please use A Song of Ice and Fire or A Game of Thrones. Because they're books. It's not that hard.
Anyway, this has absolutely nothing to do with either Game of Thrones or The Hunger Games.
Overall: This book just made me bored and annoyed. The main character, Eva, has no personality. She's a slave to the constraints placed on her by a sexist society, and she does nothing but mope or worry about following the rules. The setting makes no sense. The plot makes only slightly more sense, but the whole concept of the Testing leaves something to be desired. Sure, it only cost me a dollar, but there are better ways to spend it.