I personally think The Testing was better than Independent Study. The second book in Charbonneau's Testing trilogy is quite literally another testing with higher chances of survival, significantly less paper tests, and an induction to their major. It's really just more testing and then some more.
Malencia (Cia) Vale begins to realize failing isn't allowed, because failing means inevitable fate (but of course, that's been drilled since the first book – this time it's more along the lines of, "So much for relief. I still can't fail or I'm toast.") that she really doesn't want to find out. With the inability to remember to her Testing aside from what she recorded and beginning to question the University's selection process, Cia tries to find ways to take down the Testing peacefully without an all out "let's take down the entire government" rebellion.
At this point in the series, I'm not exactly a huge fan of the overly brilliant main character of the series. I adore Cia's brilliance, and while I think this might actually be Charbonneau's motive (because the series is based off the ACT/SAT), I feel Cia's been over-brillianted – Is that a word? No? I don't care. It is in this sense. – in the series. Cia is basically the only one excelling compared to the rest of her classmates – the average number of classes is six, Cia gets a whopping nine (and that's not counting internships). It's like Cia is set apart deliberately and from all of her classmates, which, of course, would no doubt attract the attention of Villain Squad (yes, squad).
Okay, I don't mind brilliant characters. It means more cruising for me and less of calling the character shallow, innocent, naïve, stupid – anything along those lines. Except...
Cia is a little whiny in Independent Study. She wants to take down the Testing and stop a rebellion, but at the same time, she doesn't want to (mainly because she doesn't want to get caught – she's already sticking out like a weed in a pretty flower garden). She's beginning to rely on Tomas a little too much – "I need to know Tomas's thoughts, I need his advice, I need his opinion on this...."
I don't like it. Even if I completely understand why Cia would do so in a place where every move and word is monitored and tracked by a group of people who can end lives within any reason.
I intend to read Graduation Day for the purposes of closure.
Maybe then I'll have a better understanding of Cia's excelled brilliance and a better understanding of why Cia is becoming reliant on Tomas (aside from the fact they grew up together in the same colony).