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Independent Study

Narrated by: Elizabeth Morton
Series: The Testing, Book 2
Length: 9 hrs and 45 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (682 ratings)
This title is included in Audible Escape

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Publisher's Summary

Seventeen-year-old Cia Vale survived The Testing, as has Tomas, the boy she loves, and they have both gained admission to the University. She has a promising future as a leader of the United Commonwealth and no memory of her bloody testing experience, thanks to a government-sanctioned memory wipe. Cia should be happy but  is plagued by doubts about the past and future.

Determined to find the truth, she embarks on a path of study forbidden by the government delving  into the Commonwealth's darkest secrets. What she finds is the brutal reality lurking behind the friendly faces of her classmates and the unbearable realization that leaders chosen to protect us can be our greatest enemy.

©2014 Joelle Charbonneau (P)2014 Recorded Books

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    377
  • 4 Stars
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Performance

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Story

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  • 4 Stars
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  • 3 Stars
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

The narrator may ruin the whole series

I took a break from the series after I read the first book and forgot about the terrible narrator when I bought the second one. She has no inflection, has a terrible arsenal of "voices" for different characters, doesn't whisper, laugh, breathe correctly or do anything to indicate that a character is experiencing anything other then monotony. She also sounds like a twelve year old in a reading support class.
The story itself is reminiscent of The Hunger Games trilogy and the Divergent series with a heroine being better than everyone else and somehow being chosen to overthrow the government. It's aight.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Decent Follow Up

Independent Study is not a bad book per se; however, quirks that didn't bother me as much with the first book became problematic by the second. Yes, Cia is a bit too smart and figures everything out. But ultimately, that the characters talk like textbooks with very few colloquialisms made the story and characters feel very artificial to me. This was exacerbated by a narrator on Audible who also couldn't make the words sound natural and instead felt like she was reading off a card, with odd breaks in the overly wordy dialogue.

Story: Cia has passed the testing but now faces the challenges of induction. She's been chosen as a leader for government and her life is just as perilous and decisions just as critical as during the Testing. Lives will be lost, she will face betrayal, but she will also be given hope for the first time. Cia will have to learn quickly: for every mistake she makes, someone will die.

Unlike most dystopian books, the government isn't all evil nor populated with moustache twirling bad guys. Characters are good and bad and each have their own motivations for what they do. While this book did not peg my implausibility meter quite as frequently as other dystopians, there were still some questions about why the government is so stupid/allows Cia the chances she gets to learn more about them. The old "hiding behind an object just in time to overhear incriminating words from the bad guys' was more than a bit too much.

As noted before, the dialogue here became very stilted by book two. I didn't mind it as much in book one - I greatly appreciate a character who acts with maturity and thoughtfulness. But when every character seems to be the same way, it does lead to monotony. I began to wish for a character who would actually speak in sentences less long than an entire paragraph. It's the type of writing that sounds good in your head but when said outloud, you soon realize how stilted and unnatural it sounds. On the audible version, it really became problematic.

I will continue to read the series through to the last book. I've read some really poor YA dystopians lately and this is definitely not among them. But at the same time, I would have liked this better without the endless textbook dialogue or supernaturally gifted main character.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Not as good as the first book

It started out super good, but eventually lost my interest. The story took a different turn then I was expecting .

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

OMG. How many "tests" must Cia have?!

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

The first book was ok but this second one... AWFUL. I had to stop listening... Not EVERYTHING has to be a test.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Good story, horrible narration (again!)

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

No. The narration is so atrocious, I would urge my friend to buy the real book, or at least the ebook. In fact, I'd buy it for them just so they don't have to listen to Elizabeth Morton struggle through the narration.

What other book might you compare Independent Study to and why?

The Hunger Games! Dystopian young adult novel, fighting against "the man." A huge challenge, lots of tests in order to determine who lives and who dies. A corrupt government, a secret resistance movement. Lots of similarities, but different enough to not be the same books. I'd have to say The Hunger Games is a bit better overall, but The Testing trilogy is also very good.

What didn’t you like about Elizabeth Morton’s performance?

She sounds like she's reading to 4 year olds. Seriously. I caught myself reading to my friend's six-year-old the same way Elizabeth Morton narrates this book and stopped because it was condescending. She's reading to older kids but doesn't seem to know it. Half the time I wonder if she's ever seen what she's reading before she reads it. Very slow. Very deliberate. Intonation is way over the top. It makes me wonder, if Charbonneau actually, uses a musical comma, every other, word in the, book. All the characters sound the same – especially the males. This is very confusing when there's no "Cia said" or "Will chimed in." Which is rare, Charbonneau loves to tell you who is speaking.

Overall, with a better narrator, you could cut at least an hour off the listening time. Though it is a slight improvement over the first book.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Unfortunately, no. That's one of the reasons the story lost a star. Combined with the *facepalm* ending, I'd give it 3.5 stars if I could.

Any additional comments?

The series should have ended here. I don't want to spoilers, but for such a smart girl, Cia is really, really naïve and makes some horrible decisions – all to allow for a third book. I wish Charbonneau had not bitten into the trilogy fad and ended this series when it came to its natural conclusion.

Also, if my child was reading these books, I would make sure they really understand government as the message of the book could be seen as anarchy is superior to government. Which is against my personal beliefs and when it was explicitly stated in the book I had to hit back 30 to re-listen and sure I heard right.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Unbelievable

Unbelievable you have to read too grasp just how good this book/series is. It’s full of passion for what’s right, the determination to change the sadistic system. Yet the passion and corruption on the other side, to keep things status quo. It’s unthinkable what these students are put through when excepted to go off to college for their education. They first need to go through a test of wits, bravery, pressure, problem solving, will to survive, compassion and when to have no compassion.

Once they finish this test the ones who make it go onto college. What a relief right....wrong they never stop being tested. It’s a test of wills and intelligence throughout, between the teachers, a rebel group that isn’t what it was supposed to be, students and a President who seems to be trying to do what’s right!

I’m onto the next book in this amazing series. I can’t wait to find out what happens between these different fractions. Who will have the smarts, patients, tenacity, and be able to out wit the other fractions? I can’t wait to find out. This book and the others in the series are, sit on the edge of your seat, eyes bulging in disbelief, emotional rollercoaster, unpredictable, ride. You’re just not sure if it’s to hell, or salvation.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

great!

good book. ready to see what happens in the last book and how she wins this war!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Woot woot!!! Book 2 was just as great!!'

Thank goodness it was not as emotionally intense as the first book! I would've needed therapy and a heart monitor!!! However don't let that comment fool you, it was full of adventure and intrigue. Well worth the read.

Again, Martin does a fantastic job narrating and Carbonneau, well she out does herself again. S great second book in the Testing adventure.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great story, left me wanting more.

This book/audiobook was very entertaining and kept wanting more. I travel alot for work and this has given me much entertainment on those long drives. Definitely a cliff a hanger at the end. Glad the 3rd book was already out so I could listen to it right after. Enjoy.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Not as good as the 1st - picks up in the last 1/4

What did you like best about Independent Study? What did you like least?

I have to state that I did enjoy this book, it wasn't as good as the first one but it was okay. I feel that its biggest downfall is in the main character. She seems almost too perfect. She is able to do just about anything and never seems to falter. Cia, doesn't seem to have any flaws, she figures out all puzzles put to her with little effort and knows a little bit of everything, its barely a struggle.

This world actually seems a little more devious and brutal than some of the other dystopian novels I have read. In this world life is a more dangerous and not so obvious.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

Left me wanting to pick up the final installment. Not sure I would have without this ending.

Would you be willing to try another one of Elizabeth Morton’s performances?

I am still struggling with the narrator of these books. Her voice is very bland and almost monosyllabic with occasional inflection thrown in making it easier for my mind to wander or me to zone out while listening.

Do you think Independent Study needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

yes, you are left dangling.

1 person found this helpful