The Test by Sylvain Neuvel

This was an impulse library pick up and read. I read the Themis Files series by the same author and I am always tempted by novellas and short pieces of fiction these days so I checked out The Test and put it by the bed for nighttime reading. It turned out to be an enjoyable read, although it is a dark and in many ways disturbing one.

Britain, the not-too-distant future.

Idir is sitting the British Citizenship Test.

He wants his family to belong.

Twenty-five questions to determine their fate. Twenty-five chances to impress.

When the test takes an unexpected and tragic turn, Idir is handed the power of life and death.

How do you value a life when all you have is multiple choice?

Despite its disturbing nature, the strong characters, thought provoking and suspenseful plot, and unexpected ending make it a worthwhile read. A novella that packs a punch in a few words.

This is one of those books that you should read it in one sitting, put it down and let it percolate, and then read again. Would be a fascinating book club read as well, as different people likely have very different reactions given their politics, culture, taste, upbringing, worldview, etc.

It touches on immigration, assimilation, ethics and morality, family, and more all in a hundred pages. What struck me on first reading was the way extreme choices fundamentally change a person. How even if you make the “right” choice it could have negative consequences; unforeseen and unalterable ones. Tragedy tests the human psyche and soul; sometimes beyond the breaking point.

Highly recommended for fans of futuristic fiction that makes you think.

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