Malencia and 3 others are selected for The Testing, which is a series of tests to find out if you are a good fit to be one of the country's leaders. Before she leaves, her father warns her of his constant nightmares he got from being in The Testing. He also says to trust no one. When Cia gets to Tosu City, she is amazed at the sights of the city. She decides to trust one person - Tomas. Tomas was one of the people from Five Lakes Colony, which is where Cia is from. Cia's roommate Ryme is not a nice person, because she bragged to that she was able to finish all of the questions on the first test. Cia bragged back that she finished all of the questions on the second test. Due to stress from all of the tests, Ryme committed suicide. The third phase was a group test. If a candidate attempted to answer a question that was already answered, the candidate would be punished. Cia was put in a group with 3 people - Roman, Brick, and Annalise. Cia didn't trust Roman, and she turned out to be right. Roman answered all of the questions without telling his group. Cia had to convince Brick to believe her. Brick finally believed her so he wouldn't be punished.
The fourth phase of The Testing has almost started. Candidates are supposed to go out in the wild, where mutated creatures live, and survive. The candidates have to go from where today is Chicago, back to Tosu City. Before the candidates left, Tomas and Cia decided they would meet at the tallest building in the city to team up. The candidates were also allowed to pick three items from a large list. Cia picked a handgun, a water purification kit, and first aid kit.
Cia finally made it to the fourth phase. She didn't find Tomas anywhere, but she did find a shooter with a crossbow. The shooter fires an arrow at Cia, but misses, and Cia fires back. She was chased down by the person, and cornered on a broken bridge. She jumps and almost falls in the contaminated river, when Tomas saves her life, and they get away. Later, Tomas and Cia come across some bicycles, and with a little repair, they work pretty good. The two also find a small pond, where the water is crystal clear, but Cia doesn't trust it. While Cia goes to find another water source, Tomas goes to the perfect one, and it explodes. Tomas is badly hurt, but Cia manages to fix him up. Cia is walking alone at one point when a grey haired man walks to the fence, drops a bag, and walks away. They later find a maze, which leaves them lost for days on end. In the maze, they find their friend Will. The three finally make it out of the maze together, and Will stays for a night. Cia goes to find supplies alone, while Tomas and Will are behind. Cia is given another bag of supplies by the old man. This time. He stays to talk. The old man is a person who is against the idea of The Testing. He tells Cia that there are a few people who work for the United Commonwealth that are against The Testing. Cia and Tomas find another city. While they camp out in a building for the night, Cia wakes up and hears footsteps. She wakes up Tomas who also hears them. They are spotted by someone who throws a knife at Cia. The knife misses, but she sees that the person is Roman. Roman and Tomas go knife to knife in a fight, and they each get a stab or two on each other. Cia is about to shoot Roman when someone else shoots him. The person is Will, who found a vehicle in the city. They all stick together for a few days until they are all very close to the finish line. Cia tells Will, "Go ahead, we wouldn't want to hold you back." Will responds with, "I was just going to say the same thing." Will then raises his gun and shoots Tomas. Cia finds out that will was the crossbow shooter from the beginning of the fourth phase. Cia brings up the courage to shoot Will, but he gets away. Tomas and Cia finally manage to make it to the end of the fourth phase.