The Test by Sylvain Neuvel

Rate: 5/5

Medium: Audiobook

Overview (No Spoilers):

Neuvel’s The Themis Files has been one of my go to recommendations since I first stumbled across Sleeping Giants several years ago. I’d been eagerly anticipating Neuvel’s next read, however I was surprised when I found The Test would be a short story (two hours audiobook length). The Test, unapologetically grips the attention of the reader right from the onset, with Idir’s optimistic, kind inner dialogue being amusingly out of place during a high stress situation. Then a series of unexpected events transforms a routine testing procedure into a terrifying, life threatening encounter. Just when the suspense is at its thickest,  Neuvel turns the tables yet again on the readers in a fascinating plot twist that will have them questioning reality. Over and over again, sweet Idir was placed in impossible situations, where he was forced to make haunting decisions. The reader couldn’t help but put themselves in Idir’s shoes and ponder what choices they would make if placed in a similar position. Let me tell you right now, I doubt I would be a hero. Neuvel’s previous series mainly utilized interview formatting for the narrative, however in The Test, he eloquently shapes this short story within the limited lines, keeping the reader engrossed throughout. Overall, one of my favorite aspects of this read was that Neuvel had crafted this world to be contained mostly within one room/building. As someone who constantly is craving world building in literature, I surprisingly did not find that aspect lacking despite the limited mobility of the characters, which is a direct compliment to Neuvel’s artful weaving of the details at hand.  It was announced last month Neuvel’s next trilogy, Take Them to the Stars, was picked up by Publishing, with an anticipated release of the first installment approximately Fall 2020. After The Test, I can’t wait to experience the new literary world he is currently developing.

Additional Insight (Spoilers Abound):

  • This technology seems so advanced to only be used on an application within the immigration’s office.  How is it utilized outside of this purpose? What other technologies exist in this advanced futuristic world?
  • If Idir was able to keep his memories, how has the nature of the test not leaked out?
  • Despite Idir passing the test, the loss of this positive, happy demeanor seems like a failure. Perhaps the Government should have offered Idir therapy afterward?
  • What was the fall out for Deep? Was his controversial method applied more in the future upon further studying?
  • What is the public perception of these mysterious methods for determining citizenship? Or perhaps they live happily ignorant?
  •  Idir’s poor wife! She doesn’t even know why he is ignoring her. If he would just talk with her about the process, I’m sure she’d understand.



      • Oh, you should defintiely give it a try. It’s very dark, often weird, and some episodes are slightly boring. But there are many that are my absolute favourite. You can start with any episode, as they are not connected in any way. I highly recommend Ep. 1 (Season 3) – «Nosedive».

        Liked by 1 person

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