Review: The Test by Sylvain Neuvel

RATING: 7/10


Award-winning author Sylvain Neuvel explores an immigration dystopia in The Test.

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?


The Test is a dystopian novella (only about 100 pages long) which sets in a world where immigrants have to take tests in order to become a British citizen. We follow the point of view of Idir Jalil, an immigrant from Iran, whereby his family moved to the UK to avoid from the hostile treatment that they have received in Iran. Idir intends to be a UK citizen and hence he must answer 25 questions on a test. If he fails the test, Idir and his family will be deported back to Iran.

With a span of around 100 pages, the author manage to bring out several concepts such as racism, sexism, nepotism, immigration, the effects of technology. There’s a major spin in the story and it really feels like an episode of Black Mirror. The concept of this story is very interesting and original. It is very thought provoking and at times, philosophical. However, as a huge fan of dysopian novels, this story is too short for me to appreciate the world and the social structure of this world. Hence, its only a 7/10 star rating from me, mainly due to the concept of this story. Nevertheless, it is a quick read and this can serve as an introductory read for those who wanted to try out dystopian novels.

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