TITLE: The Test
AUTHOR: Sylvain Neuvel
RELEASED: February 12th, 2019; Tor.com
AGE RANGE: Adult
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.
In The Test, we follow Idir Jalil, an Iranian immigrant who’s looking to pass the British citizenship test so he and his family can stay in the UK. Despite the pressure he’s under — because, as he quickly lets us know through his own memories and back story, there’s so much at stake for the Jalil family — Idir’s in a great mood. He’s studied hard, he’s confident without being arrogant, and those first few questions breeze by for him.
Suddenly, a massive wrench is thrown into the works and Idir finds himself being pulled into a warped terrorist scene, where he’s forced to make decisions so much harder than any question the test could have asked him. There’s so much going on in this little story, and I truly can’t say more, because it’s so short and quick-paced that any further details would be spoilers.
Instead, I’ll just say that this is one of the greatest novellas I have ever read. It was a tremendously well-fleshed story despite its brevity, Idir is one of the most likable protagonists I’ve ever read in my life, and the social commentary here on racism, xenophobia, sexism, and more? I was blown away. There are moments in this novella that shook me to my core, and the ending? Wow, what a brilliant way to close it up.
This was my first time reading Sylvain Neuvel’s work, but I can assure you that it won’t be my last.
All quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release. Thank you so much to Tor.com for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!
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