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Literature / The Testing Trilogy

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A dystopian Young Adult trilogy written by Joelle Charbonneau. In it, sixteen-year-old Daddy's Girl Malencia "Cia" Vale, from destitute Five Lakes Colony, is selected along with three other students to undergo testing to become a university student in Tosu City. This is all Cia has dreamed of for years, so why isn't her father more excited for her?

The trilogy contains the following tropes:

  • Academic Alpha Bitch: Cia's roommate Ryme is willing to poison other candidates if it means increasing her chances of passing the Testing.
  • Accidental Murder: Tomas was startled at the wrong moment while holding a knife in his hand and accidentally stabbed Zandri.
  • Aerith and Bob: Compare names like Malencia, Zandri, Ryme, and Zeen to Will, Tomas, Malachi, and Annalise.
  • After the End: The trilogy takes place many years after the United States, and presumably other countries, was destroyed by a combination of war and severe natural disasters.
  • Always Identical Twins: The only physical difference between Gill and Will is the length of their hair.
  • Angsty Surviving Twin: Though he hides it well, Will does not take the loss of his twin brother, Gill, well.
  • Anyone Can Die: Is most prevalent in the first book, where over 80 teenagers die in the initial Testing to get into the University.
  • The Baby of the Bunch: Not only is Cia the youngest in her family, she is also at least a year younger than most of the other Testing candidates, having started a year earlier than required.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Zeen joins the rebellion in order to look out for Cia at the University.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: From the moment that the Testing candidates are picked up from their home districts, their every moment is watched by cameras. Cia is sickened to realize that some official watched as Ryme killed herself and did nothing to stop or help her.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Will betrays Cia and Thomas during the fourth stage of the Testing but (barely) survives to go on to the University and completely forgets his betrayal.
  • Brainy Brunette: Both Cia and Tomas, the two smartest students in their district, are brunets.
  • Children Forced to Kill: While "forced" is maybe too strong a word, teenagers as young as 16 are certainly not discouraged from thinning out the competition during the fourth stage of the Testing, and it seems unlikely that Ryme would have been punished harshly for trying to poison her fellow candidates as early as the first stage.
  • Comfort the Dying: Cia is able to help comfort Malachi during his last moments, though it is unclear if he was even able to see her by that point.
  • Crapsack World: The United States outside of the colonies is essentially unlivable after the Seven Stages War, and even life in the colonies has only recently started improving through the work of University graduates.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: After ingesting a poisonous plant during the second stage of the Testing, Malachi makes a fatal mistake later on, resulting in a nail going through his eye and, it is implied, entering his brain. He does not die instantly, but begins to seize on the floor of the Testing room before finally going still, with his (remaining) eye staying open the entire time.
  • Daddy's Girl: Cia is noticeably closer to her father than to her mother.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Instead of letting failed Testing candidates return to their home districts, even in disgrace, those who are not outright killed during the course of the Testing are genetically mutated into horrible monsters for future Testing events. Reminder that these are smart teenagers who could still do great work to help improve the colonies' futures, but instead must die for not being good enough for the University.
  • Driven to Suicide: Ryme kills herself after completing the first round of Testing after she finds out that Cia actually finished the Reading and Literature section with time to spare.
  • Eye Scream: Malachi's death is partially through a nail to the eye.
  • Honor Before Reason: Even when being actively shot at, potentially fatally, Cia always hesitates to act in her own self-defense, at least against other humans.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Cia is only ever called "Cia" except by government officials and occasionally her mother.
  • The Smart Guy: Only the smartest students from each colony are selected for the Testing.
  • Theme Twin Naming: Will and Gill's names rhyme and are only one letter different from each other.