The Test by Sylvain Neuvel
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The Test – an exercise in superfluousness
“The Test” is a short story about an immigrant taking a citizenship test. What he doesn’t know: It’s all simulated. When a group of terrorists takes everyone hostage at the test and they put him into difficult situations, his behaviour is actually being evaluated with respect to suitability for citizenship.
The story isn’t bad at all but nothing here is new and all of it has already been executed a lot better by other authors. There are even a few things intrinsically implausible that are never explained and before you know it, you’ve finished the very short novella.
It’s a bit like Brecht once wrote: “Indeed it is a curious way of coping: To close the play, leaving the issue open…”
Unfortunately, Neuvel isn’t Brecht and can’t really pull this off as successfully but wrote a novella that’s simply superfluous.
Thus, to quote Brecht to the end, “There’s only one solution that we know: That you should now consider as you go What sort of measures you would recommend To help good people to a happy end.”
The measures I would recommend are simple: Find a better book to read.
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