Title: The Test
Author: Sylvain Neuvel
Genre: Science Fiction
Edition/Pages: Paperback, 112 pages
“I did not give up. You can change the world with one smile.”
This takes place in near future England, and follows a man taking the citizenship test. The test is 25 questions long. If he passes, his family can stay. But a few questions in, the test takes a dark turn.
I still can’t figure out how this book covered so much in so few pages. This is one of the best novellas I’ve ever read. Sylvain Neuvel does not disappoint.
This books is really dark. It looks at humanity and what it means to be a good person. It also comments on racism, sexism, and the role of government.
Content warnings for murder and PTSD
What I Liked
“I am on my knees. I have been here before. I have been thrown to the ground and I have felt the tip of their guns on the back of my neck. I have been through this and I have survived. We will survive. All of us.”
- Idir was an amazing protagonist. I connected with his character so quickly – he’s witty, intelligent, and caring. And they way Neuvel wove small glimpses of the family’s past throughout the test was so subtle yet effective.
- This story was just so damn gripping. I read the first couple chapters and thought wow, this book is dark. The test room has been taken over by terrorists, and now they are killing the people inside to get what they want. Then the twist came… and got even darker. This book really makes you think – what makes a good person? Who makes that decision? And how much say should they have?
What I Didn’t Like
- I didn’t totally love the “after” chapter. It definitely showed the lasting effects of the test, but it felt.. rushed? I appreciated the depiction of PTSD. How the test may have determined the type of person they were, it also changed that person. But it also felt it took away for the impact the final twist had.
Overall this is one of the best novellas I’ve read. The impact this story had in so few pages blew me away. If you’re looking for a hard-hitting speculative story about human nature, definitely pick this one up. It does not disappoint.