"GRADUATION DAY: Book 3 of the Testing Series," by Joelle Charbonneau, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $17.99, 291 pages (f) (ages 14 and up)
Part three of the Testing series by Joelle Charbonneau is Greek tragedy meets teen drama meets conspiratorial mystery set in post-apocryphal times. Reading the first two books is a necessity to understand this recently released trilogy conclusion, "Graduation Day."
To sum it up in one sentence: the novel comprises several explosions, lots of gun fire, even more intense moments, several protagonist moral-crossroad dilemmas, all capped off with an abrupt finish.
It's a less-dramatic-heroine version of Hunger Games set at a university instead of in an arena. The author does keep a quick pace, packing the pages with action sequence after plot twist after action sequence.
Malencia "Cia" Vale is trying to complete her Tosu University education and at the same time discover ways to end The Testing, or the means by which many of her fellow students have been "redirected." The city, meanwhile, is on the very brink of civil war.
Charbonneau, whose previous books have been on the New York Times best-selling list, creates an interesting world worth exploring, with a few characters that shine, and a few more that fall flat. Charbonneau has mastered the art of a building intense moments, but not really much else. While certainly moving the plot along quickly, the story line lacks the balance that could have really made it a great finale to the series.
Although readers certainly won't be upset with the conclusion of the series, they may be slightly disappointed with what seemed like the promise of a "bang" conclusion that ended up feeling more like a "pop."
This novel contains depictions of blood and violence.