Author: Sylvain Neuvel
MM Rating: 3.5/5
Welcome to Britain, immigrants! The land where a test is not just a test. And that, dear readers, is the entire premise of The Test. Revealing any more would make this into a spoiler, so let me tell you how I felt after reading it.
The Test is the first Sylvain Neuvel work I’ve read, and I am impressed. The book showcases a dystopian Britain where citizenship tests are much more than MCQs (multiple choice questions).
The Test revolves around an Iranian family that migrated to Britain. The book takes off with Idir, a dentist, waiting to give his British Citizenship test. As soon as he begins answering the questions, the room is hijacked by a terrorist waving a gun around.
The motives of the terrorist are never revealed, except that he wants something from the government. His threat is to kill someone in the room every 15 minutes unless his demands are met. For his first kill, he shoots Idir’s neighbor, and Idir attempts to staunch the bleeding, thus calling attention to himself.
Every 15 minutes, Idir has to decide who gets to live or die between two hostages chosen randomly by the terrorist. The story then progresses into the aftermath of the kills and how it affects Idir and his family.
The story is thought-provoking. What would you do if you ever had to choose like Idir? Would you choose to save atleast one life, or refuse to play God?
The only criticism I have is that the twist is revealed by the third chapter. It may have been worthwhile to keep the reader in the dark for a few more chapters, before revealing the punchline.
The book is a short and easy read that can be completed in under three hours.