Independent Study

The second book from The Testing Trilogy

Written by: Joelle Charbonneau

Published by: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company 2014

ISBN: 9780547959207

Genre: Science Fiction


The second novel of The Testing Trilogy, this book follows Cia's adventures at the University. Unlike most dystopians, this novel focuses more on the mental aspect of things and focuses on the emotional state of the characters. Unfortunately, this novel was underwhelming compared to its predecessor. While The Testing was fast paced and built great suspense and an intricate plot, this novel does just the opposite. Independent Study failed multiple times at creating interesting characters and tried too hard to be like a normal dystopian novel instead of embracing the unique aspects of its plot.

The entire first half of the novel regarding the Induction process felt pointless and unnecessary. It felt like the author began writing the second novel and realized she didn't have enough information to make it complete, so she included an entire first section in an attempt to create more drama. However, not only does the Induction fail at building suspense like the Testing did, this entire series of events also opens up many glaring plot holes that I simply could not ignore for the rest of the book. Furthermore, while Cia was a decent character in the first novel, she felt bland and uninteresting in this one. It felt like she never learned from the events of the Testing and was too perfect. Even worse, the second main character doesn't even appear. In all honesty, I barely even noticed. The romance in the first novel was forced, and the second novel only continues it. While this novel did add a couple more interesting characters, there were so many that I couldn't remember the names of half of the cast. If there's any saving grace, it would be the second half of the novel, where the action starts building and it actually feels like there's a threat. Furthermore, Cia's character also began to grow in the second half, though I wish her development could've started a bit earlier. In general, I would say this novel did not hold a candle to the first book of the series. I only hope the third improves.

Additional Reviews:

Further Explorations

  • Here is an interview with the author of Independent Study
  • A page that explains how hover boards, which are similar to skimmers, could potentially work
  • An article that goes over the history of dystopian novels
  • This article describes the possibility of World War III occurring, similar to how a war was what destroyed the world in Independent Study
  • This page lists the after effects of nuclear war
  • A link to the first novel in The Testing Trilogy
  • A page that discusses standardized testing, our modern equivalent of the Testing that takes place in the first novel.
  • Here you can read an excerpt of Independent Study
  • The official book trailer for The Testing (cannot be viewed on Chromebook)

Partner Titles

Works Cited

"2014 Teens' Top Ten: An Interview With Joelle Charbonneau." Yalsa. Yalsa, 2 Dec. 2014. Web. 9 Dec. 2015.

Bonsor, Kevin. "How Hoverboards Will Work." HowStuffWorks., n.d. Web. 09 Dec. 2015.

Digital image. Amazon. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2015.

"Effects of Nuclear Explosion." PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 09 Dec. 2015.

"Independent Study (The Testing, #2)." Goodreads. Goodreads, n.d. Web. 09 Dec. 2015.

Independent Study (The Testing, #2). Digital image. Goodreads. Goodreads, n.d. Web. 09 Dec. 2015.

"Independent Study: The Testing, Book 2 - Book Review." Independent Study: The Testing, Book 2 Book Review. Commonsensemedia, n.d. Web. 09 Dec. 2015.

"INDEPENDENT STUDY by Joelle Charbonneau | Kirkus Reviews." Kirkus Reviews. Kirkus, 7 Jan. 2014. Web. 09 Dec. 2015.

Layton, Lyndsey. "Study Says Standardized Testing Is Overwhelming Nation's Public Schools." Washington Post. The Washington Post, n.d. Web. 09 Dec. 2015.

"Legend Marie Lu Wiki." - Wikia. Wikia, n.d. Web. 09 Dec. 2015.

Robot Check. Digital image. Robot Check. Amazon, n.d. Web. 09 Dec. 2015.

"The Testing (The Testing, #1)." Goodreads. Goodreads, n.d. Web. 09 Dec. 2015.

"The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau - Book Trailer." YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 09 Dec. 2015.

"The Testing Trilogy." The Testing Trilogy. Joelle Charbonneau, n.d. Web. 09 Dec. 2015.

Willans, Joelle. "Dark Days: The Fascinating History of the Dystopian Novel." RSS2. Ink Tank, 28 Aug. 2014. Web. 09 Dec. 2015.

"World War III Has Begun - Truth And Action." Truth And Action. Truth and Action, 21 Feb. 2015. Web. 09 Dec. 2015.