“It’s graduation day for sixteen-year-old Malencia Vale, and the entire Five Lakes Colony (the former Great Lakes) is celebrating. All Cia can think about—hope for—is whether she’ll be chosen for The Testing, a United Commonwealth program that selects the best and brightest new graduates to become possible leaders of the slowly revitalizing post-war civilization. When Cia is chosen, her father finally tells her about his own nightmarish half-memories of The Testing. Armed with his dire warnings (”Cia, trust no one”), she bravely heads off to Tosu City, far away from friends and family, perhaps forever. Danger, romance—and sheer terror—await.” ~blurb from Amazon
I really enjoyed THE TESTING. Ms. Charbonneau‘s writing drew me in from the moment I read the prequel THE TESTING GUIDE. I seriously wanted to know what happens next. It was a well-executed plot; and with every bit of information I gather I wanted to go on and find out everything until it’s done.
I loved Cia right away. Youngest and the only girl among a brood of brothers. She’s crazy smart, level headed and disciplined. She is one of the best heroines I’ve ever read, which just proves that Ms. Charbonneau knows how to build her characters, and give each one a certain quality that is hard to forget.
Even the world building is fascinating. I get that this is a dystopian book, but some of the things mentioned in this recuperating world is simply amazing -they are inspiring and timely in this age of ours. As each scene was narrated, insights of how things came to be became something closer to home, and the way everything was smoothly mapped into place I can’t help but relate our present world into how we may become in the near future. Among the dystopian books I’ve read, I believe this one has the most relevance.
Many readers may worry and compare this with the rest of those dystopian series they have had. There is no arguing that this is also about a girl from a dystopian Earth, about challenges and adventures, about friendship and romance, about betrayal and survival. We’ve read it all before. All I am saying is that you give this one a chance, because THE TESTING maybe the BEST among the rest.
This book is coming out on June 4, 2013. You can still pre-order a copy via Amazon.
To Houghton Mifflin and Netgalley, thank you for not letting me miss this great opportunity. I can’t wait to get my copy of INDEPENDENT STUDY.
A Reflection on The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
Once in a while, a certain novel will cross our path and it will capture us in a way that mere words will not suffice to describe how we felt after reading it. The History of Love is unbelievably strong; its wonders are beyond my capacity to convey. While reading the book, I remember how many times my eyes brimmed with tears, yet I remember beaming and laughing too. Such veritable diversity of emotions in one novel is oftentimes inexplicable.
“It is also true that sometimes people felt things and, because there was no word for them, they went unmentioned. The oldest emotion in the world may be that of being moved; but to describe it –just to name it- must have been like trying to catch something invisible.”
The story was brought about by a book entitled The History of Love, written by Leopold Gursky in his younger years. He wrote, “The first woman may have been Eve, but the first girl will always be Alma.” Inspired by his love for Alma Mereminski, this book was Leo’s most treasured work. When WWII invaded his hometown Slonim, located in Poland, both book and girl were lost to him.
“Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering.”
At the age of 80, Leo strives hard to let people know that he exists. His invisibility to the world frightens him. He was afraid that he will die alone, soon, and no one will even know about it. His desperation to get attention everyday drove him to do some very outrageous feat. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to him, his book survived and has inspired loves and lives spanning through the decades.
“The moment had passed, the door between the lives we could have led and the lives we led had shut in our faces.”
The story unfolds through Leo’s memories moving back and forth in time, and through the perspective of three other characters. Among these three, it was Alma Singer’s perspective that directly parallels Leo’s accounts. After the untimely death of her father, Alma tried to bring balance back into her family’s life; she strongly believes that The History of Love is the key.
“The truth is the thing I invented so I could live.”
How the four perspectives will eventually converge into one is the great journey that the reader will have to take. The characters’ unraveling, their outlook in life, and inner strength created a focus that entraps the readers into reading on. The mystery of how the story culminates is the exhale that every reader will look forward to.
“At times I believed that the last page of my book and the last page of my life were one and the same, that when my book ended I’d end, a great wind would sweep through my rooms carrying the pages away, and when the air cleared of all those fluttering white sheets the room would be silent, the chair where I sat would be empty.”
I believe that in the hands of a lesser writer this story is but a jumble of words. Nicole Krauss is a master of language, a seamless weaver of plots, and vivid painter of characters. Each character has this sorrowful voice that leads us to heartbreaking truths, joyful discernment, and unexpected closures –such things that only a poignant novel can accomplish.
“At times I believed that the last page of my book and the last page of my life were one and the same, that when my book ended I’d end, a great wind would sweep through my rooms carrying the pages away, and when the air cleared of all those fluttering white sheets the room would be silent, the chair where I sat empty.” ―Nicole Krauss,The History of Love
Have you ever wondered what inspired a writer to write a story? Was it from pure imagination or remarkable experience? In Bram Stoker’s case, what drove him to write about the most horrifying, most enigmatic, most evil villain that became the most monstrous of all time? James Reese provided a fictional answer of his own.
The Dracula Dossier is supposedly composed of a newly revealed collection of Bram Stoker’s journal, letters, and news clippings; which obviously is a nod to the Dracula novel’s structure. The collector pre-arranged this collection chronologically before sending them to a trusted writer. This collection offered a great insight into the fictional Stoker’s life, and detailed events that will eventually inspire him to write his renowned novel.
The narrative of the book spun a suspenseful tale of Stoker’s discovery and involvement in Jack the Ripper’s bloody career in London. Being a witless participant in a cult ritual, Stoker felt responsible and tracked down the criminal. The task proved to be both horrifying and taxing for him and his friends, not discounting the toll it imposed on the citizens of London.
I finished this book after stalling it for 2 months; because despite the cover line, after reading 150 pages, there was still no suspense going on. But going back to it was a must, “a half-read book is a half-finished love affair” after all. James Reese is no doubt a talented writer. He must have studied every inch of the Dracula, because he emulated Stoker’s writing so well, down to its Victorian theme. He made a good job of weaving non-fictional characters into the story, mapping them well into the era, which probably took a lot of research. Lastly, there were plenty of references that Dracula readers can undoubtedly pick up. What struck me most, during those first 150 pages, was Mr. T.M. Penfold. He was the character I wished to have the best ending in this story, and did not disappoint me.
What undid it for me (1) was the wait for the suspense to happen; (2) the ending was engineered to a point that it was already unbelievable; (3) the premise, Jack the Ripper as the inspiration simply devaluated the eeriness and immensity of Dracula.
Read this if you are an avid Bram Stoker fan; you like the supernatural; have patience with Victorian writings; like creepy stories; and doesn’t mind waiting things to happen.
Lincoln is 28 years of age, cute, single, plays Dungeon n’ Dragons, and lives with his mom; which worries his sister Eve. Lincoln’s new job, however, requires him to filter company emails at a local newspaper. He sits all night reading through employees’ correspondents and sends them warnings if they violate company email policy. Although the job earns him good money, Lincoln hates this job.
Ergo. Therefore. Thus …He technically, ethically, had no reason to keep reading their e-mail. Lincoln had told himself all along that it was okay to do this job (that it was okay to be a professional snoop and a lurker) as long as there was nothing voyeuristic about it. As long as he didn’t enjoy the snooping and lurking.
Beth and Jennifer are best friends and co-workers at The Courier; they both know that their emails are being monitored but that didn’t stop them from emailing each other daily. Lincoln should have sent both of them a warning, he knows he should, but he was charmed by the ladies’ friendship… and the idea of Beth.
The story is alternately written in epistolary form showing the ladies’ witty emails for each other; and 3rd person narrative of Lincoln’s perspective. I think it was a pretty smart move from the author, it really captured my attention. I mean, who could resist falling for these people? The characters were developed beautifully, charming and believable; while the story was lighthearted and funny. This book is a breath of fresh air, I highly recommend it. I’m sure you’ll have as much fun as I did. Looking forward to more of Rainbow Rowell’s books.