Malencia “Cia” Vale learns about the weight of leadership in Graduation Day, the explosive conclusion Joelle Charbonneau’s The Testing trilogy that picks up right where Independent Study left off. This leaves the reader in the thick of some tough decisions Cia made at the end of Independent Study.
The beginning of Graduation Day changes the pace of the story a bit, as we see Cia reflect on the history of her country and the state of affairs she is currently in. Then she sorts through the choices and decisions she has made to get where she is, recapping the reader on any events they may have forgotten from previous volumes in the trilogy.
The first act of the book is largely Cia hiding and calculating, making plans as she is faced with more scrutiny than before. In the second act, tasked with a heavy burden, Cia is forced to make tough choices. Her compassion and care are tempered by her continued desire to end The Testing that she and many others believe to be wrong.
This bound-to-be smash hit continues the pattern of dystopia-meets-SATs, though it steers away from the high-level educational pedagogy of The Testing and Independent Study and delves into practical application of knowledge and skills – challenges real-world students do not realize they have experience with until after Graduation, and here Cia is learning it at barely 17.
The stakes are higher than ever, and Joelle Charbonneau really delivers a full wallop with the twist ending that makes complete sense when you place all the clues together.