In The Testing, protagonist Cia dreams of going to the one university left in her futuristic country, just as her father did. But to get there, she has to go through a rigorous, four-part exam designed to select only the best and the brightest.
Like all those selected for the Testing, Cia hopes to go to school and become one of the country's leaders, charged with rebuilding a destroyed America.
Compared to the Hunger Games series, Charbonneau says this series is about teens facing their fears and learning how to get through life.
“I think that any coming of age story (is) really about teens coming into their own,” Charbonneau says, “learning to trust their own opinions, learning to take what they got from their background and their parents, and then looking at the world to see how it can all fit.”
Being a small town girl, from a place one known as the Upper Peninsula, Cia doesn't know what's in store during the Testing. But her father, who went through the process but had his memory erased, has some troubling advise: Don't trust anyone.
Charbonneau says this is a hard lesson for Cia - and many teens going through a competitive process to learn. Just because you can trust them at first does not mean you can trust them later on, Charbonneau says.
Charbonneau is also a voice lesson teacher, actress, and author of many comedic mystery novels. This is her first young adult dystopian novel. The last two books in the trilogy, Independent Study and Graduation Day, will be released soon.