The Test by Sylvain Neuvel
"Imagine you just escaped the zombie apocalypse and watched all your friends being eaten alive. Now I'm asking you which fabric softener smells nicer."
Do you like Black Mirror? Well, buckle the hell up, because this novella is essentially a shortened episode. It's Black Mirror on speed.
I was riveted from the beginning and read this all in one sitting (it also doesn't hurt that it's quite a short book!)
This is about Idir Jalil, an immigrant from Iran. Idir and his family moved to the UK and the story begins with him preparing to get his British citizenship. To do so, he must answer 25 questions on an exam. That's all that stands between getting to stay in the UK and being deported. 25 questions.. that's it. Idir has studied his ass off and is feeling confident. We are inside his head as he enters the exam. He's jovial and courteous, has a great sense of humor... I felt emotionally invested in his character straight away. You can't help but root for him and his future. There is a lot at stake for Idir and his family.
You see, the pressure to pass the citizenship test rests squarely on Idir's shoulders. It is only for men between the ages of 16 and 45. The odds aren't great. 1 in 3 fail the test, so the chances of actually passing are relatively low.
Idir is a few questions into the test when something goes terribly wrong, forcing him to make some difficult decisions in the process. This is a protagonist that keeps the storyline moving quickly. I found myself turning the pages frantically to see what happens next.
It's about choices... those that we make daily and how they affect us. It's an examination on racism, sexism, immigration, technology and survival.
I don't want to say too much. This is a book full of surprises and it's best if you go in knowing as little as possible. Seriously.. these 104 pages are BONKERS!
The Test is a gut-churningly emotional, brutally intense, twisty turny read. I was reeling after. Goddamn.
(Endless gratitude to Tor.com Publishing for sending me a copy!)
**The quotes above were taken from an ARC & are subject to change upon publication**
This The Test book review was written by Holly Grimdragon
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