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Independent Study by Joelle Charbonneau ARC {3 Stars}

Independent Study by Joelle Charbonneau is the second in The Testing trilogy. There are going to major spoilers in this review for The Testing because that’s how edge of your seat trilogies go ;-). I was one of the people who loved The Testing, unfortunately I wasn’t quite as in love with Independent Study. I did read my copy on Adobe Digital Editions, so that could have partially disturbed my reading mindset; it’s hard for me to tell, except that I know I don’t like reading on ADE. Anyway, Independent Study had the same writing style and dystopian thrills as The Testing, but it didn’t have as clear of a goal and plot, which bothered me. This is the freaking mother of all cliffhangers…. Or maybe just endings that aren’t endings that you wish were compelling cliffhangers…. We’ll see!

Note: I received Independent Study through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

Independent Study by Joelle Charbonneau ARC {3 Stars}

Independent Study by Joelle Charbonneau (The Testing #2)
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on January 7th, 2014
Genres: Dystopia, YA
Page Length: 320 pages
How I got my copy: Edelweiss
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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.

3 Stars


  • The beginning of Independent Study was a lot of fun with the university setting. I just graduated undergrad, and so I might be biased here, but I found the lead up to university life quite intriguing.
  • Between Cia’s actual memories and the recording, there is a lot of character re-development for her. She changed a lot during The Testing, and now she has to figure out who she really wants to be. This was pretty fun to go through with her.
  • There is no love triangle, whew. I also quite enjoyed the dynamic with Thomas of a relationship that has to figure out how to forgive and they manage to do so in quite a healthy way, yey functional relationships!
  • The Testing was criticized for being very much like The Hunger Games (fairly in some ways), however Independent Study is not like Catching Fire at all, especially on the surface elements people noticed previously.


  •  The ending of Independent Study was barely an ending in my opinion. You could call it a cliffhanger, except it wasn’t all that dramatic. I almost wonder if I didn’t get the full book, except my page-count agrees with Goodreads…. Yes this makes me want to read the next book, but not in an excited way, more in a completion, I need an ending way.
  • Partially because of the ending, Independent Study has hardcore second book issues in that it doesn’t have a plot of its own. It is just setting up for the third book.
  • There were still a lot of problems with show don’t tell, since conversations were described instead of read through dialogue, etc. Hopefully this will be fixed in the final version.


While I was very excited for Independent Study, I was also a bit disappointed. It has a strong start, but faltered at the end by being cut off before any real resolutions could happen. I’m a strong believer in second books of trilogies still having a plot of their own, hence my disappointment with this aspect. I am excited to see a strong relationship being continued as a support to the plot instead of the plot itself! I will definitely be reading the third book, but if you didn’t like The Testing, you probably won’t be happy with Independent Study unfortunately.

3 Stars
Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings – Anya


 Independent Study by Joelle Charbonneau

© 2014 – 2013, Anya. All rights reserved.


  1. I’m reading your review a bit late, but I didn’t want to be influenced when I wrote my own :)

    I do agree this is plagued by second book-itis. I did enjoy the information we got on how the university system is set up, since I enjoy that kind of thing; I just wish there had actually been more of Cia attending class, instead of the before/initiation and then the internship.

    • Fair enough, with all the crazy accidental plagiarism crap that’s happened, I do the same thing just to be sure! I loved the university setting too, especially since it was different from a lot of the other dystopians. I just wish there had been an ending, gah!

  2. Sounds like this one has major “second book syndrome” going on.

    I’m kind of torn about whether or not I want to read this one. On one hand, I started the trilogy so I feel that I ought to at least make an attempt to finish it, since I didn’t outright hate the first book. On the other hand, the first book didn’t really do much for me. It would have been far better received had it not been trying to ride the wave of the dystopian craze. It was fast-paced, there was action, there was tension, there was an interesting plot, and yet I just couldn’t get into it because I’d read a dozen other books exactly like it, and it didn’t really stand out. So I’m not entirely convinced that there’s a real need to finish off the rest of the books in the series, since while the first book was good, it wasn’t original enough to really keep my attention. And then hearing that Book 2 is little more than a lot of setup for Book 3… That doesn’t inspire me to make time for it either…

    • Exactly! Though a lot of other people have been liking it so I’m hoping that the early version I read was tweaked a bit. Maybe wait until the third book comes out in the summer and see if the ending is worth it?

  3. Jenn @ A Glo-Worm Reads says:

    I loved The Testing so am really looking forward to reading this book. I was thinking of diving right into it, but if the ending is kind of open, maybe I should wait until the third book is out and then read them both? I don’t know, so confusing! Also, yay for no love triangle! I was slightly worried about that!

    • Hehe, since the third book is coming out later in the year, waiting isn’t a bad idea ;-). I think I would have been much happier if I had treated this one and the next one as two parts of the same book!

  4. I tried Book 1 (The Testing) and it just didn’t work for me. I wish it had but alas wasn’t for me :(

  5. I haven’t read The Testing (partially because of the Hunger Games comparisons … wasn’t a fan of HG), but I can fully sympathize with a lackluster second book. It’s like sequels to movies I loved; I’m excited, but at the same time cringing, because it’s so hard to live up to the original and so easy to put out useless filler. Here’s hoping the final book redeems the story for you!
    Kel recently posted…Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George (3 stars)My Profile

    • If you aren’t into HG then you probably won’t like this series, good call ;-). I’m really hoping that the advanced copy went through some edits as well, but second books always have a tall order D:

      • Curious moment: I just read my first eARC this past week and found myself *really* hoping the final version had some substantial edits. Do you ever go back and read the final published version to see if anything changed? Or do you generally hear from others that there were substantive changes?
        Kel recently posted…Defy by Sara B. Larson (1 star)My Profile

        • Excellent question! I have never checked to be honest mostly because I don’t reread ever. The goal with ARCs is that only typos and smoothing need to be fixed, so there should never really be substantial plot/character changes. I’ve heard from some authors that they sometimes do happen, but I don’t think it’s the norm since they want reviewers to be able to write relevant reviews.

  6. Funny, I liked this one better than the first. I thought the first was too much like THG and I had some technical issues with it. This one was much better for me. But that cliffhanger (which I figured out before it happened) certainly has me wanting the third book now!

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