The Testing

The Testing Summary and Analysis of Chapters 13-15


The next morning, Cia gets the bicycles in some semblance of a working order, and she and Tomas begin making their way to Tosu City. Along the path, they find a girl dead on the road. She was killed with a crossbow quiver, and the contents of her bag are missing. Cia and Tomas bury her as best they can, and then she fumbles with the silver metal bracelet until it comes off. Next, they come across a paved road. After what happened with the oasis, they test the road by throwing rocks on it. The road appears safe, and the two manage to ride 45 miles in one day.

Cia and Tomas settle down for the night when three other candidates, one boy and two girls, find their camp. Cia and Tomas offer them food and shelter for the night, and the five of them take turns keeping watch while the others sleep.

In the morning, the five separate, and Cia and Tomas make their way to an abandoned farm to settle down for another night. While Tomas is preparing dinner, Cia examines the dead girl’s identification bracelet. She notices three small pinpricks - openings to a hidden microphone.

Cia takes off her and Tomas’ bracelets before telling him what she found. Tomas assures her they will figure out a way to use this knowledge against the Testing officials, and he takes the opportunity in private to tell Cia that he loves her. They then put the bracelets back on quickly so as not to alert the people listening that something is wrong, and then settle down for the night.

Cia wakes up the next morning fully alert. She hears panting nearby. Sneaking a glance outside, she sees a few mutated bear/wolf hybrids outside the building. Cia quietly wakes Tomas, and the two quickly escape. They run to their bicycles and barely flee the charging pack of hybrids. Once they are safe, Cia inspects Tomas’ wound, which has opened during the chase. It has become infected, so Cia treats it as best she can. The next morning, they start traveling on the road and see a demolished city in the distance.

Cia and Tomas enter the city the next day and notice that the road turns into a fabricated maze. To test any dead ends, Cia tells Tomas to throw rocks at the piles of rubble. Once the first pile blows up, they know that leaving the maze will be punished. It takes them hours, and the maze gets more complicated. Near the end of the maze, Cia and Tomas hear footsteps approaching. Cia readies her gun and takes aim at the path behind them, but Will calls out to warn her.

Tomas is upset by Will’s presence. He is not talkative, and Will suggests that it’s because Tomas does not want any competition over Cia. Cia notices a wound in Will’s shoulder, but he shrugs it off as a wound he got from a tree. The three spend the night together, and Cia sets a number of snares beside the Testing area’s fence to catch food for breakfast. When she goes to inspect her snares the next morning, a gray-haired man is on the other side, smiling at Cia.


Though Cia knew that the Testing officials were watching the candidates, she finally learns how they are keeping an eye on them during the fourth round: the bracelets. The bracelets are a symbol of a few themes of The Testing. Cia’s aptitude for mechanics allows her to find the clasp and microphone easily, signaling her ingenuity and intelligence. The bracelets also connote the theme of Big Brother, and Cia and Tomas learn that they have to censor themselves even more than they did before. They are always being watched, and the officials are always listening to them. Finally, the bracelets also represent personhood. When Cia takes the bracelet off the dead girl, it is her way of making sure the girl is remembered. Though Cia doesn’t know her name, where she’s from, or anything about her, taking the bracelet is the only way Cia knows how to honor the girl’s memory. Taking the bracelet is a small rebellion against the officials' senseless brutality.

Charbonneau created a world that was ravaged by nuclear war. Up until now, the candidates have not seen or felt how bad this destruction was. Being in the unrevitalized environment, though, has shown Cia exactly how bad things are outside of the colonies. Not only are the plants and water contaminated, but the nuclear radiation has warped the animals into horrifying hybrid beasts. The animals that chase Cia and Tomas were mutated beyond recognition. Cia cannot identify them, but they look like a mix between wolves and bears. These realistic details help the readers understand the effects of a world war, and allow them to put themselves in the shoes of the characters.

Now that Cia has saved his life and patched him up, Tomas is beginning to believe Cia about the lengths the Testing officials will go to in order to push the candidates to their limits. Testing the road and rubble by throwing rocks is one way the two are learning how to check for traps. After seeing the rubble blow up, they know that the officials are herding the candidates together on the road to see how they perform under duress.

When Will joins the group, he and Tomas seem to be at odds. Tomas acts like he doesn’t trust Will, and Will makes fun of Tomas’ apparent jealousy. Will mentions this to Cia, and the reader is led to believe that the competition between the two is solely over Cia’s affections. However, Tomas allows Will to stay the night with them, so he might have an ulterior motive for wanting to keep an eye on Will for a bit longer. This plot echoes love triangles of other dystopian YA novels, and provides another layer of testing for Cia - personal relationships.