The Testing

The Testing Summary and Analysis of Chapters 16-18


The man at the fence doesn’t say a word, but he throws Cia a bag across the fence before leaving. Inside is some water, bread, and other food. Cia goes back to Will and Tomas without telling them about the man or food, and she keeps the stash hidden until she can tell Tomas alone. The three continue to travel together, but they are running out of water. Will and Tomas begin fighting over who will take the bicycle and scout for a water source. Tomas does not want Will to go because he might steal one of their bicycles, but he also does not trust Will alone with Cia. During their argument, Cia races off and tells them to get over their issues while she is searching for water.

Alone, Cia sets some snares and finds a water source miles from where she started. She is about to leave when a large creature barrels toward her. She shoots it without hesitation, but Cia recognizes humanity in the creature's eyes. Even though it acted like an animal, the creature was a person, mutated by radiation. She races off, but not before a number of other creatures come chasing after her. She tries to get away, but three follow her. She shoots to injure the first two, but she kills the last one. She scrambles up into a sturdy tree and spends the night thinking about the consequences for shooting another human being.

The next morning, she makes it back to Tomas and Will. Neither boy is fighting with the other, but there is an odd silence between them. Will admits that the two got into a fight, but they eventually settled down when they came across another candidate, a boy from Colorado Springs. He said nothing happened, but Cia sees the look on Tomas’ face and knows both are leaving parts of the story out. She does not press the issue, though. Later that afternoon, Will leaves the group when they approach a small desolated town. Right before leaving, he mentions to Cia that Tomas is not the person she thinks he is.

As Cia and Tomas settle down for camp, she sees dried blood on Tomas’ knife. The next day, Cia leaves to go find supplies before heading into the rubble. She sees the man at the fence again, takes off her bracelet, and approaches him.

The man at the fence does not give Cia his name, but he tells her that he is working with a group of people who want to change the way the government runs the Testing. He and his associates know that Cia’s family has a number of secrets they want to keep hidden from the United Commonwealth, so he gives Cia a vial of liquid. If Cia drinks this before their post-Testing interview, it will counteract the truth serum that the officials will administer. Before leaving, he gives her another bag of food.

Cia meets up with Tomas, and the two prepare to enter the town. While doing so, she asks him about that other candidate he and Will met. Tomas skirts around Cia’s questions, but then he accuses Will of not being as nice as he acts. Cia sticks up for Will, but Tomas mentions that Will had twice the supplies that he was given at the start of the fourth round. He believes Will is a killer, but Cia wants to see the good in Will.

Cia and Tomas enter the city and make their way on the road that leads through the center. As they are coming to the end, they see a crowd of the same hulking humanoid creatures that attacked Cia days before. Tomas wants to ride through them as quickly as possible, but Cia remembers how she was riding going quickly when they started chasing her. She and Tomas instead begin walking slowly. The creatures notice them, but they do not charge like before. The two are almost through the crowd when gunshots begin ripping through the creatures.

As the creatures die all around her, Cia searches frantically for the gunman, and sees Brick on top of a building, shooting every creature in sight. He yells for Cia to run, but she keeps trying to tell him to stop shooting. She can see the creatures are trying to tend to the wounded, but they are being killed at will. Tomas grabs Cia and pulls her away from the carnage. Cia finds it hard to eat and sleep later that night, but she knows she has to keep going.

Cia and Tomas have a conversation about the memory-wiping, which they hypothesize will be done with drugs. Cia does not tell him about the man at the wall or the vial, but instead keeps those secrets to herself. Later, as they settle down for sleep, Tomas and Cia hear another candidate rustling around their camp. Tomas and the candidate get into a knife fight, and Cia sees that Tomas’ opposition is Roman. She aims and tries to steady her gun, but a blast goes off and Roman is shot in the head.


Though Cia is unsure about the man at the fence, he knows specific details about her and her family. He says he is part of the resistance and that he is here to help Cia make it through the Testing without revealing her family’s secrets. At this point, Cia does not know whether or not she should trust him, or whether the serum in the vial is what he says it is. She wonders if he is a friend of Michal's. In these chapters especially, Cia has to figure out whom to trust.

Will and Tomas’ arguments are curious to Cia, and she does not know what to make of them. Will wants Cia to believe that Tomas is jealous of their friendship, but this could be a ploy to take any suspicion off himself. Tomas wants Cia to see what he sees in Will. He believes that Will is a liar and will go to any lengths in order to make it to University. However, his own credibility is at stake when Cia realizes that Tomas has lied to her about the other candidate he and Will encountered while Cia was away. She knows he is not telling the truth about that scenario, so it is difficult for her to trust him about Will. At this point, the only person Cia can trust is herself, so she chooses to keep the man a secret for the time being.

Cia also keeps her run-in with the humanoid creatures a secret, largely because she feels ashamed by her actions.

These creatures are another effect of war, though Cia does not know exactly what happened to them. They cannot communicate, but Cia notices that they have an intuition to protect and avenge their companions that have fallen. When she accidentally kills the first creature, the others run after her. The creatures’ affection towards their companions is what bothers Cia most about their deaths. Even though they do not look like normal humans or communicate like normal humans, they still have compassion and some sense of society as a group. They aren’t mindless animals. Cia has to process the fact that she has killed two human beings. She spends a sleepless night turning it over in her mind, as she swore before the Testing that taking a life was a line she would not cross. Cia did what she had to do to survive, but she was unable to keep the promise to herself that she would not kill. The Testing has changed her, despite her resistance.

The scene in the cityscape, with Cia and Tomas surrounded by the human creatures, is an incredibly tense and suspenseful moment in the book. Again, Cia's observation skills come into play, as she remembers that racing away from the creatures on her bicycle made them give chase. Now, Tomas wants to cycle away as quickly as possible, but Cia uses her intuition to make the right decision. It is terrifying to walk at a slow pace past creatures capable of great strength, but Cia again recognizes their humanity in their eyes, and knows that if they do not provoke them, the creatures will not attack. Unlike Roman or the crossbow killer, the creatures act out of self-preservation than malice.

Though Brick thinks he is paying back Cia for her help during the third round of testing, Cia is appalled by his actions. During the shooting, Cia again notices that the creatures are tending to their wounded rather than retaliating. She wonders how he can take the lives of so many creatures who were not doing harm to anyone. Cia asks herself if saving Brick from Roman was worth dozens of humanoid creatures dying at Brick’s hands. Though Brick clearly thinks of her as someone with leadership qualities, Cia doubts she has made the right decisions.