Independent Study by Joelle Charbonneau {3 Stars}

Independent Study: The Testing, Book 2 - Joelle Charbonneau

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 (The Testing #2)
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on January 7th, 2014
Genres: DystopiaYA 
Length: 320 pages
How I got my copy: Edelweiss
Purchases made support this blog 

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. 



  • 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