Graduation Day by Joelle Charbonneau | Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
Graduation Day (The Testing Trilogy Series #3)

Graduation Day (The Testing Trilogy Series #3)

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by Joelle Charbonneau

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She wants to put an end to the Testing
In a scarred and brutal future, The United Commonwealth teeters on the brink of all-out civil war. The rebel resistance plots against a government that rules with cruelty and cunning. Gifted student and Testing survivor, Cia Vale, vows to fight.

But she can't do it alone.
This is the chance to lead that


She wants to put an end to the Testing
In a scarred and brutal future, The United Commonwealth teeters on the brink of all-out civil war. The rebel resistance plots against a government that rules with cruelty and cunning. Gifted student and Testing survivor, Cia Vale, vows to fight.

But she can't do it alone.
This is the chance to lead that Cia has trained for – but who will follow? Plunging through layers of danger and deception, Cia must risk the lives of those she loves—and gamble on the loyalty of her lethal classmates.

Who can Cia trust?
The stakes are higher than ever—lives of promise cut short or fulfilled; a future ruled by fear or hope—in the electrifying conclusion to Joelle Charbonneau's epic Testing trilogy. Ready or not…it’s Graduation Day.

The Final Test is the Deadliest!

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Charbonneau concludes her dystopian Testing trilogy with this action-packed finale, which sees Cia Vale secretly tasked by the President of the United Commonwealth to remove the officials behind the lethal Testing process that has claimed so many young lives. Caught in an impossible situation, under constant surveillance, Cia must find allies among her classmates, never sure who she can trust. If she fails, the Testing will continue to destroy teenagers in the name of creating future leaders, while the rebellion against the government will likewise fail, betrayed by its leader. Cia must navigate a complex moral gray area, questioning authority and her own motives, forced to utilize her wits at every turn. Charbonneau’s portrayal of a ravaged future America attempting to rebuild itself is gripping, filled with surprises and complicated questions of right versus wrong. As in the previous books, Charbonneau remains focused on philosophical worries and moral tests over spectacle and bloodshed, with multiple layers and twists to keep readers forever guessing. Enough potential threads are left dangling to leave room for future stories. Ages 12–up. Agent: Stacia Decker, Donald Maass Literary Agency. (June)
From the Publisher
"Charbonneau’s portrayal of a ravaged future America attempting to rebuild itself is gripping, filled with surprises and complicated questions of right versus wrong. As in the previous books, Charbonneau remains focused on philosophical worries and moral tests over spectacle and bloodshed, with multiple layers and twists to keep readers forever guessing."
—Publishers Weekly

"Conspiracies, counterconspiracies, lies and double crosses: It's quite a ride."

"Charbonneau delivers nail-biting suspense that fans of the series have come to love."
VOYA, June 2014 (Vol. 37, No. 2) - Erin Segreto
In a harsh and terrifying future, Cia Vale is on a mission to end The Testing, a violent practice where the best and brightest teens of the United Commonwealth Government are chosen to rebuild a war-ravaged civilization. What was once a “dream come true” is now a living nightmare, and Cia still struggles with whom she can trust. Her memories of the brutality of The Testing are still fresh, although they were supposed to have been erased. The Commonwealth is now on the brink of civil war, and Cia has been ordered by the president to kill those responsible for creating the rebellion. But the rebellion could be cloaking a secret. Cia risks the lives and futures of her loved ones as she digs through layers of government corruption to find a way to end The Testing for good. In this highly anticipated final installment to The Testing Trilogy, Charbonneau delivers nail-biting suspense that fans of the series have come to love. Readers will finally get the answers they have sought throughout this dystopian thriller. Cia is now a little older, wiser, and tougher and must delicately balance her relationship with government officials and those she considers her friends. Full of even more ethically challenging decisions, deathly encounters, and deceitful characters, the book concludes the series without any loose ends. Fans of Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games and Veronica Roth’s Divergent will enjoy this exciting end to another great dystopian adventure. Reviewer: Erin Segreto; Ages 11 to 18.
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Cia Vale, the girl who survived the Testing, vows to join the rebel alliance fighting against the United Commonwealth. But who will follow her? And who can be trusted?
Kirkus Reviews
After discovering in Independent Study (2014) that the rebellion is secretly controlled by the administration it purports to act against, Cia must choose whom to trust.It's up to Cia to end the Testing and prevent a civil war that's a setup for slaughter. When she brings the conspiracies to the attention of the United Commonwealth president (whom Cia works for as a student intern), President Collindar concludes that her own office has been infiltrated so thoroughly that none can be trusted. Rather than relying on one of her other underlings, Collindar gives Cia a hit list of strategic targets—Dr. Barnes and various officials connected to the Testing—to assassinate in order to put control of the Testing firmly into Collindar's hands and to prevent civil war. But Cia knows this task is impossible for one person to accomplish: She must recruit others and, harder, trust them. But she doesn't have long to evaluate—or test—her friends for loyalty and belief in the cause. Professor Holt and Cia's other enemies close in on Cia with the goal of Redirecting her out of the University. Once and for all, Cia will prove if she has what it takes to lead or not. Twists and reveals are plentiful but not gratuitous, and the series' loose threads are tied up. Readers who have been with Cia from the beginning will not be disappointed.Conspiracies, counterconspiracies, lies and double crosses: It's quite a ride. (Dystopian thriller. 12 & up)

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Testing Trilogy Series, #3
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.20(d)
850L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

A knock makes me jump. My hands shake from exhaustion, fear, and sorrow as I unlatch the lock to the door of my residence hall rooms and turn the handle. I let out a sigh of relief as I see Raffe Jeffries in the doorway. Though we share the same path of study, there is little else that is similar about us. Me from the colonies, who had to survive The Testing to be here. He from Tosu City, where students related to former graduates are welcomed into the University with open arms. We are not friends. Even after he helped save my life last night, I do not know if I can trust him. But I have no choice.
   Raffe appears unconcerned, but I can read the warning in his eyes as he steps into my sitting room and closes the door behind him. “Cia, they know.”
   My knees weaken, and I grip the back of a chair for support. “Know what?” That I left campus? That I know the rebellion led by the man who helped me during The Testing isn’t what the rebels believe? That soon the rebels will launch an attack that will lead them to their deaths? That Damone . . . I push my thoughts away from that question.
   “Professor Holt knows we both left campus.” His dark eyes meet mine. “And Griffin has started looking for Damone.”
   Of course Griffin would be looking for his friend. When he doesn’t find him, he will alert the head of our residence, Professor Holt. She will wonder why the Tosu City Government Studies student has vanished. Will Dr. Barnes and his officials believe the pressure to succeed has caused Damone to flee? Or will they launch a search for him and discover that he’s dead? Panic begins to swell. I tell myself there wasn’t another option. But was there?
   I shake my head. Unless I want my future to contain Redirection or worse, I have to avoid thinking about what is past.
   There are no rules that say we cannot leave campus. I cannot be punished for that alone. But if they know what I have seen . . .
   I take a steadying breath, then ask, “Does Professor Holt know when we left or if we left together?”
   My fingers trace the lightning bolt symbol on the silver and gold bracelet encircling my wrist as I think of the tracking device contained inside. The one I thought I had beaten. Only, I was wrong. I was wrong about everything. Now Michal is dead and . . .
   “I don’t think anyone knows how long we were gone. No one saw us leave, and I don’t think anyone spotted us when we returned to campus.” Raffe runs a hand through his dark hair. “But Griffin stopped me when I was going to deliver your message to Tomas. He asked if I had seen Damone. Then he  wanted to know where you and I went this morning. I don’t know how, but he knew we were together.”
   I have not told Raffe about the tracking device in his bracelet. Part of me had hoped I would not need to share my secrets. My father warned me before I came to Tosu City for The Testing to trust no one. But I have. I must again now. Because he’s helped me, Raffe is in danger.
   Quickly, I tell Raffe about what’s hidden inside the bracelets and about the transmitter Tomas and I designed to block the signal and hide our movements from Dr. Barnes. Only, sometime last night or this morning, that transmitter fell out of my pocket. Where and when it was lost I do not know.
   Raffe looks down at the symbol etched on his bracelet—a coiled spring in the center of the balanced scales of justice. “They’re monitoring our movements.” There is no surprise. No outrage. Only a nod of the head before he says, “We’re going to have to find a better way to block the signal if we don’t want them watching our every move when we do whatever you have planned next.”
   What I have planned . . .
   This week President Collindar will stand in the United Commonwealth Government’s Debate Chamber and ask the members to vote on a new proposal. One that—if approved—will shift administration of The Testing and the University from Dr. Barnes’s autonomous control. One that will force him to report to the president and allow her to end the practices that have killed so many who wanted nothing more than to help their colonies and their country. But while I’d like to believe the proposal will pass and The Testing will come to an end, everything I have learned tells me it is doomed to fail. When it does, rumor says Dr. Barnes’s supporters will call for a vote of confidence on the president. A vote that—if lost by the president—will signal not only the end of her role as leader, but the start of a battle that the rebels and the president have no hope of winning, since Dr. Barnes knows of their plans. Indeed, he and his supporter Symon Dean have planned the rebellion itself. Only recently have I learned its true purpose, which is to identify, occupy, and ultimately destroy any who would oppose the selection methods of The Testing. The time is fast approaching when Dr. Barnes will allow his people among the rebels to escalate their outrage and encourage open warfare, in order to crush that rebellion with violence of his own. If Dr. Barnes’s plan succeeds, those who seek to end The Testing will die—and my brother will be among them.
   I can’t sit back and allow that to happen, but I don’t know how I can help stop the events that are already spinning into motion. I thought I knew. I thought I had found a way to help. But I only made things worse. Now Dr. Barnes will be watching my movements even more closely than before. I wish there were time to think things through. My brothers always teased that it took me hours to make a decision that took others minutes, yet my father taught me that anything important deserves thoughtful study. The choices that face me now are the most important of my life.
   Am I scared? Yes. As the youngest student at the University, I find it hard to believe that my actions could change the course of my country’s history. That I am clever enough to outthink Dr. Barnes and his officials and save lives. But there is no other way. The odds favor my failure, but I still have to try.
   “Right now the only thing I have planned is to do my homework and get some sleep.” When Raffe starts to protest, I say, “You need sleep, too.” The way his shoulders sag tells me he is just as tired as I. “Maybe if we’re rested we’ll come up with a way to help stop what’s coming.”
   Raffe nods. “Regardless, with everything that’s happened, it’s probably best we stay inside the residence for the rest of the day. I’m sure Professor Holt will have someone watching you. You’ll need to be careful.”
   A muffled series of clicks catches my attention. There it is again. One. Two. Three faint clicks of the transmission button on the Transit Communicator. The signal Zeen suggested we use to indicate one of us needs to talk. He must have found a place where it is safe for him to speak. But it is not safe for me. Not with Raffe here. I have been forced into trusting him with many things, but I will not trust him with this. Not with my brother’s life.
   “I’ll see you later today,” I say. Raffe cocks his head to the side. His eyes narrow as the three clicks come again.
   Pretending I hear nothing, I walk to the door and open it. “I have an assignment I have to get to work on.”
   Raffe looks around the small sitting room. My heart beats off the seconds as he waits for the clicking noise to recur. When it doesn’t, he shakes his head and walks to the door. “I’ll be around if you need anything.”
   When the door swings shut, I flip the lock and hurry to my bedroom. My fingers slide under the edge of the mattress and close around the device I brought with me from Five Lakes Colony. It was designed to communicate across distances of less than twenty miles with a device my father kept in his office. The one Zeen must hold now while waiting for me to respond.
   I click the communication button three times to indicate I have received his signal.
   “Cia. I can’t tell you how glad I am Michal finally told you where I am. I wanted to contact you the minute I got to Tosu City, but Michal said it would be best to wait. Are you okay?”
   The sound of Zeen’s voice fills me with warmth. Growing up, I could always tell Zeen anything. Of all my brothers, he was the one I went to when I needed help with a problem. I was certain he could come up with the answer for everything. I hope that is still true.
   “I’m fine.” For now. “But—”
   “Good.” I hear Zeen sigh. “That’s good. Cia, I’m sorry I was so angry. I shouldn’t have let you leave without saying goodbye. I was jealous because you got what I thought I wanted. I didn’t know . . .”
   I think about the hurt I felt when Zeen disappeared before I left for The Testing. Of all of us, he is the most passionate. The easiest to upset. The quickest to react when his emotions are stirred and hardest hit when those he loves are wounded or taken away. Which is why I understood his absence when my family said their farewells and why I can honestly say, “It’s okay. Besides, if you hadn’t stormed off, I would have asked permission to take this Communicator and you would have turned me down. I wouldn’t have made it through the last couple of months without it.”
   “You should have heard me yell when I saw your note.” Zeen laughs. “Mom said it was a small price to pay for how I’d behaved, since I might never see you again. She didn’t want me to come, but Dad understood why I had to. Cia, there are things happening here. Important things. I don’t know if Michal told you, but these people are going to end The Testing. The leaders here have a plan that will change everything. It’s dangerous.”
   “Zeen . . .”
   But Zeen isn’t listening. When I was little, Zeen used to talk to me for hours about things I didn’t understand, but I didn’t care. I loved listening to his voice and knowing that he understood the things he talked about. But he doesn’t understand now.
   “Zeen . . .”
   “And it’s complicated and will take too long for me to explain. I can’t talk for much longer or someone will come searching for me. With everything going on, they’re slow to trust. Even with Michal’s endorsement. I think they would have arrested me the minute I walked into camp if it weren’t for—”
   “Zeen, stop!” When there is silence, I say, “Michal’s dead.” My throat tightens. Tears prick the backs of my eyes. Saying the words aloud makes them all too real. “I saw him die.”
   “Cia, that can’t be true.” But the hitch in Zeen’s voice tells me he is shaken by my words. “I would have heard if Michal died. Symon or Ranetta would have told us.” Zeen’s soothing tone is the same one he used when I was small and thought there were monsters lurking under the bed. Only there is no soothing me with kind words now. I know these monsters are real.
   “Symon wouldn’t have told you because he’s the one who killed Michal.” I look at the clock beside my bed. Five minutes have passed. If Zeen is right, people will soon come searching for him. I don’t want them to hear him talking into the Communicator and think he’s a spy. There is so much to say. So little time to say it in. I have to decide what is important now and what can wait until we can arrange another time to speak.
   “Michal brought Symon the proof the president needs to sway the Debate Chamber vote and end The Testing in a peaceful way. I was hiding nearby.” I can still see the way the rebellion leader looked when he raised his gun and fired. Two shots. Then Michal fell to the ground. “I heard Symon say that he and Dr. Barnes created the rebellion to control those who want to bring an end to The Testing. The rebellion isn’t real.”

Meet the Author

Joelle Charbonneau began telling stories as an opera singer, but these days she finds her voice through writing. She lives near Chicago with her husband and son, and when she isn’t writing, she works as an acting and vocal coach. Visit

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