Book one – The Testing
The Seven Stages War left Earth a damaged and devastated world. The first four stages were brought about by manmade warfare on the Asian side of the planet and spread. During the last three stages, Earth retaliated against man for the biochemical destruction and radiation by unleashing earthquakes, hurricanes and tornadoes. The United Commonwealth chose the former site of Wichita, Kansas as its capital because of its non-strategic location and the fact it escaped the first four stages of the war. Its new name is Tosu City.
Malencia "Cia" Vale resides in the Five Lakes colony with her parents and four older brothers. Five Lakes is one of the smallest and farthest colonies from Tosu City. She is graduating today. At sixteen, she is by far the youngest member of her class. Cia is hoping that she will be chosen for The Testing. Only the best and brightest graduates are chosen by the Commonwealth for the program. Her eldest brother, Zeen, was disappointed when he wasn’t chosen for The Testing. Their father was and attended the university where he learned to genetically alter plants and trees to be able to survive in Earth's blighted soil. His sons work with him. Cia has also been offed a job but she is more mechanically inclined and usually kills plants. Rumors swirl at the ceremony that a special guest will make an announcement. Cia is disappointed when no one is chosen for The Testing. The rumor was just a rumor after all.
The next morning, Cia's mother persuades her to go to Kip Drysten's to ask him for a job. He repairs farm equipment. Cia is relieved when he is out on a job and won’t be home for several days. She rides to the town square and is relieved that most people there are too busy to speak to her. Cia finally begins the ride back home to help her mother prepare for her graduation party that night. On the way, she runs into one of her brothers. Magistrate Owens had sent a message to their father requesting Cia's appearance at her house in just under an hour. She has to hurry to make it.
It turns out that Cia is the last to arrive. Also sitting at Magistrate Owens's house are three of her fellow graduates; Tomas Endress, Malachi Rourke and Zandri Hicks. Cia sits next to Tomas when he smiles and motions for her to sit next to him. Owens apologizes for the short notice and introduces Michal Gallen, a Tosu City official. He was supposed to attend the graduation ceremony but was delayed. He reads from a sheet of paper explaining The Testing. He ends his speech by announcing that all four of them have been chosen. They will leave in the morning. When Zandri ask if she can decline, Michael informs her that she doesn't have a choice; it is the law. Failure for not presenting oneself for The Testing is a form of treason. Everyone in the room knows that treason is punishable by death.
Cia returns home to tell her family and finds her party is in full swing. Her father is the first to notice the official United Commonwealth bag hanging from her shoulder and he immediately announces to everyone what it means. Her brothers are the first to congratulate her but she notices that her eldest brother Zeen slipping out of the room. The party turns out to be Cia's last chance to tell her friends goodbye. While helping her mother clean up afterwards, her mother weighs in on what Cia take with her. Her father comes and asks if he can take a walk with Cia to spend a little quiet time. They head out into the garden. He tells her that should have never been chosen. Shocked and angry at first, Cia cannot believe the secrets that her father divulges. He tells her to trust no one. She is no longer sure what she should expect at The Testing.
What is the purpose of The Testing? Why was Cia and the others from Five Lakes chosen after so many years of no candidates? Are the horrors that her father remembers really true? Can Cia trust the one boy from home who wants to form an alliance? Will Cia or anyone else survive?
Book two – Independent Study
Book three – Graduation Day
“The final test is the deadliest"
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