"I spent my life folded between the pages of books." -Tahereh Mafi

Some of my reviews are normal non-spoilery reviews. But some of reviews contain lots and lots of spoilers to help you (and me!) remember what happened when the next book in the series finally comes out. Both review types are clearly marked.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Independent Study by Joelle Charbonneau

This post contains lots of spoilers!!

This book picks up about six months after the Testing. Cia has been taking general studies courses. Everyone takes a test that will decide which area they will focus the rest of their studies on. Cia wants Mechanical Engineering but ends up with Government. 

She begins to remember bits of her time in the Testing, which makes her more curious. She wonders what happens when students are "Redirected" and after snooping around, figures out that they are likely killed. Michal tells her of the rebellion that he's a part of that wants to remove Dr. Barnes (head of the University and Testing). The rebellion has 2 factions: Symon's (to which Michal belongs) that wants to achieve this peacefully, and the other that is tired of waiting and wants to use violence. Cia agrees to help in any way she can.

The new government students go through an Induction, which is basically a mini version of the Testing. It's basically a group scavenger hunt that tests many skills. Cia's group comes in first. Her upperclassmen mentor Ian warns her that Dr. Barnes and Prof. Holt are watching her because they think she did too well. They've set her up for failure by assigning her more classes than anyone else. Cia manages to make new friends among the government students - notably Enzo and Raffe.

Cia is still together with Tomas, but she's warned from seeing him by Ian. She begins to suspect that Tomas still has his memories from the Testing. She confronts him and he confirms that he does. She asks what happened to Zandri and he admits that he did kill her, but accidentally. She's upset, but is able to forgive him.
Cia is assigned to an internship with the president. She discovers that Michal is also working there. He tells her that the president is about to introduce a bill that would restrict the power of the Testing officials. But he's afraid she'll lose the vote, which will make her look weak, which will likely prompt a vote of confidence that she would likely lose. Then Dr. Barnes could ensure that someone friendly was appointed to the position. They need proof of how evil the Testing process is. With the help of Tomas and Raffe, Cia is able to get the recordings their bracelets made during their Testing. She hands then over to Michal, who takes them to Symon and the rebellion. Cia and Raffe tag along but remain hidden. When Michal hands over the recordings, Symon shoots and kills him. Cia is horrified, but then recognizes his voice and someone she overheard conspiring with Prof. Holt - Symon has been working with Dr. Barnes to sow a fake rebellion so that those who would want to rebel would have an outlet, but no actual chance at actually succeeding.
Cia also recognizes her brother Zeen among the rebels. Apparently he has left home to look out for her. She is able to use the transit communicator to make contact with him at the very end of the book.

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