The novella is at its best when we stay in Idir’s head ... Most readers will read The Test in a single sitting. It’s suspenseful, fast-paced, and thought-provoking, with a disturbing and well-earned ending. Though I wish that Neuvel had expanded certain aspects of his story, I can’t complain too much. The Test is bracing, memorable, and all too plausible. I can’t tell you Idir’s final test score, but I’m pleased to inform you that Sylvain Neuvel passes his own exam with flying colors.
Sylvain Neuvel's The Test offers a chilling vision of national decline, bureaucratic mania, and entrenched xenophobia in post-Brexit Britain ... The novella conforms to the aesthetic protocols of what Jane Elliott calls 'the microeconomic mode'...all about what happens to agency when matters of life and death are reduced to the binary logics of rational choice ... What The Test makes plain is that there’s nothing inherently liberating about choice.
Told in alternating chapters that differ in style, tone, and even font, this novella packs the punch of a much larger novel when the exam becomes a life-and-death hostage situation. A timely and thought-provoking story for book-discussion groups and fans of speculative fiction.