I am an adult. Ever since I was little I watched my parents and the other adults and wished for the day I would be one of them – confident and strong. Never have I felt so unsure of myself.
This sentiment is typical of many teenagers, which is why this quote is fitting for a young adult novel. When children become close to adulthood, they feel as though they should be treated like adults. Yet when many get this treatment and shoulder the responsibilities of adulthood, they feel apprehensive about making choices. There is no longer a safety net.
The wind teases Zandri’s gauzy multicolored skirt and peasant blouse as she strolls unhurried through the square. Her long blond hair glistens in the sunlight. A small smile tugs at her lips as she reaches us. She offers no apologies. And I know. She’s planned this entrance. She’s showing that while she can be required to perform, she cannot be controlled.
Zandri never wanted to be a candidate for the Testing. She was an artistic, happy spirit in the Five Lakes Colony. Yet Michal made it clear that ignoring the call was impossible. Zandri knew that she could never change the policy, but she found a way to fight the policy in her own way. In some respect, her actions are a precursor for Cia’s own actions against the government. They both want to dismantle the policies they feel are unjust, but they have to work within the system to break it down.
Dr. Barnes assures me Ryme’s death is not my fault. As we discussed earlier, stress is difficult. Some students handle stress better than others. Some can’t eat. Some never sleep. Ryme took her own life. While this is a tragedy, it is better for the entire Commonwealth population to learn now that she is not capable of dealing with the kinds of pressure she would be forced to deal with in the future. This event is unfortunate, but The Testing served its purpose.
This is the first instant that Cia sees her father’s warning come true. The Testing isn’t just another test or induction, but there are severe consequences for not being able to handle the pressure. What makes it worse, though, is that Dr. Barnes is unsympathetic to Ryme’s death. In fact, he finds her death practical, as now she is unable to show the world that she was a disappointment as a leader.
No, I do not want to be alone. Awake, I am having trouble keeping Ryme’s lifeless eyes out of my head. Asleep, I will be defenseless to stop her from haunting me. Knowing I will be alone through the ordeal makes me want to curl up in a ball.
But Dr. Barnes’ words ring loud in my head. The Testing is about more than what happens in the classrooms. Asking for help through the night will be seen as a weakness. Leaders are not weak. The Testing is looking for leaders.
Even though Cia was shocked by Ryme’s death, she knows she has to pull herself together. Showing her weakness to Dr. Barnes and the testing officials would put her at risk. She knows that they will be keeping a close eye on her, so she has to show them that she is strong and can handle any difficulties thrown her way. She’s hurting inside and is afraid of seeing Ryme in her dreams. But that does not compare to what will happen if the officials think she cannot handle the Testing.
If they are watching one room, I am certain they are watching them all. The implication of that sucks the air out of my lungs. If there are cameras in every room, someone watched Ryme as she stripped her bed of the sheet. Tied it to her dress. Reasoned out the best place to affix it to the light fixture on the ceiling. They watched as she stepped off the chair. Saw her struggle against the rope, claw her throat in an attempt to free herself, and go limp as her body shut down.
Cia realized early on that the Testing officials were watching the candidates at all times. The thought of someone watching Ryme kill herself without intervening, though, is hard for Cia to comprehend. She cannot understand why someone would watch a young girl full of potential let her carry out her suicide. Yet this tells Cia exactly what type of people the Testing officials are. She makes herself comply with their idea of strong leadership so she can survive.
I use only the solutions I can identify by smell and color. Out of the ten soil samples, there are four I am certain contain radiation, three that do not, and three on which I will not risk wagering a guess. Had this been the first test, before the plants, before Malachi's twitching, bloody body, I might have been arrogant enough to feign confidence. No more. Malachi made a mistake, and he paid for it. The price he paid would be worthless if I did not learn from his actions.
Cia learns quickly the consequences for wrong answers. Fortunately for her, she did not learn them first-hand, but her friend suffered and lost his life because he made an incorrect choice. By using Malachi's mistake to guide her own actions, Cia is ensuring that Malachi's death was not in vain.
Will recovers first and says he's impressed I trusted my instincts. That he was glad he never had to make a choice about trusting his teammates since Zandri was the only one who went before him. And, of course, he trusted her. Tomas looks at Will for several long minutes before saying he's proud that I alerted Brick to my suspicions. Will tells a joke to make me feel better, but I don't. Zandri's wide eyes and trembling lips and the way Tomas frowns when he doesn't think I'm looking reminds me that the verdict to the test is still in doubt.
This section is the first time that the characters from the Five Lakes Colony are put off by Will, though Cia is too distraught from the day's events to notice. Will admits later on in the novel that he did the same thing to his teammates that Roman did to Cia's. Zandri and Tomas are both alerted to Will's true nature after Cia tells them her suspicions about the test.
Flowers grow near the edge of the pond, filling the air with their sweet fragrance. The trees are tall and straight and provide shelter from the sunshine. It's a perfect spot to rest and be restored from travel. In this place where nothing is perfect, is it a wonder that I refuse to trust it?
When Cia and Tomas approach the oasis, they are surprised at how beautiful and relaxing it looks. After their difficult time during the beginning of the fourth round of testing, it would be easy for them to set up camp in this oasis and restore their strength. However, Cia is wary of this outlet. She knows that the Testing officials are watching and judging their every move, and taking the easy way out might be punished.
During the past week, I've thought a lot about that question. Perhaps because the closer we are to the end of the test, the closer we are to becoming the next leaders of our generation. Many of my fellow candidates had demonstrated their belief that the end justifies the means. I have a hard time understanding that, but one thing is certain. The past cannot be changed.
This sentiment is echoed many times through The Testing. Cia's father first alerts Cia to his reoccurring nightmares of his own testing period, and Will agrees with this sentiment when he tells Cia that he will have to find a way to live with murdering other candidates. As much as Cia believes that the Testing is about finding the most adept and considerate leaders, she is quickly learning that leaders must learn to deal with their pasts in order to survive for the future.
All leaders have to live with disappointment at some point or another. If I have to learn that lesson early, I won't enjoy it, but I will do my best not to let you down.
During her interview, Cia knows she must answer questions as closely to the truth as possible in order to not alert the Testing officials that her truth serum is not working. As much as she wants to stand up for herself, for Tomas, and for their relationship, she must learn to tell delicate lies under pressure.
The Testing Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The Testing is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.