Things don’t always work out the way we hope. You just have to pick yourself up and find a new direction to go in.
I was not a fan of Graduation Day by Joelle Charbonneau. Were it not for the fact that this book were the final one in the series, I don’t think I would have bothered to finish it. I have a hard time giving up on books, especially when I’ve already dedicated a fair amount of time to its previous novels. A book series has to be truly terrible for me to decide that it’s not worth giving it any more of my time in the hopes that it will get better. And I think that the most disappointing piece of this series is the fact that I had genuinely and deeply enjoyed the first novel in the series. Unfortunately, the second and third (this novel) additions to the series were thoroughly disappointing.
I think the best thing I can say for this book series is that it is a The Hunger Games, Divergent, and The Maze Runner wannabe. The series did a pretty good job of melding the three, I’ll admit, but everything fell apart during the second novel. And, truth be told, I’m not sure what it was that destroyed the whole thing for me. In the beginning, I really enjoyed the story and characters. I was particularly in love with Tomas and Will, though both for exceedingly different reasons. Ironically, I think I’d cite Will as being my favorite character in the whole series merely on account of how deeply interesting he was.
Unfortunately, Tomas’ character completely fell apart in this book. Not only was he barely around, but he became so disgustingly one-dimensional and lacked any opportunity for development. All the good things about him from the first book disappeared in favor of presenting him as someone for Cia to use and take advantage of whenever was convenient for the author and her plot. And then there was the unnecessary addition of Raffe simply to give the main character someone else to use for her plot purposes. It got quite irritating after a bit. Not to mention that Cia just seems perpetually surrounded by boys with very little reason for it. I can count the number of female characters on one hand and what’s worse, none of them are impressive.
I couldn’t get behind Cia with anything. Naturally, I understood her motivations and desires, but she was just so…unrealistic and cold to those around her that it just became incredibly hard to connect and sympathize. There was a lot to the plot that didn’t make sense, the most glaring of all portrayed in the amount of trust Cia quickly and quite undeservedly received from an important official in her quest to take down some oppressors. At the end of the day, Charbonneau’s Graduation Day tried way too hard to fit in with all the other substantial YA dystopians that have made their way onto bookshelves in the past few years and didn’t quite live up to expectations.
The book wasn’t the worst I’ve read, but it’s by no means something I’d consider good, either. While I will give The Testing credit for being creative and fascinating, Graduation Day was a dull and poorly written attempt at a conclusion in an area where it felt that the author had quite run out of ideas for how to properly execute her ending,. And it took me far too long to finish since I kept having to put it down due to sheer boredom and a lack of desire to waste my time. If you’re planning to read this series, I’d suggest simply reading the first one and skipping the last two in favor of making up your own ending.