The Test by Sylvain Neuvel | Book Review

★★★★☆
March 12th, 2019

I’m no stranger to Sylvain Neuvel’s writing. I flew through every book in the Themis Files and eagerly awaited the next installment. I was thrilled to see that he was coming out with something new.

The Test is not exactly what I was expecting, and I mean that in a good way. Part of my surprise was the size of the book. It’s tiny, barely hitting over 100 pages. Not a lot of depth can happen in 100 pages, so I wasn’t sure about what to expect from the story.

In the not too distant future, citizenship in the United Kingdom is determined by a test. This is where we’re going to get into spoiler territory, so if you’re planning on reading it, come back in an hour after you’ve read it and then we can chat.

Done? Good, let’s talk about it.

I was intrigued by the idea of a simulation that requires people to make choices about who to save. I liked the psychology of that choice, and was intrigued by the idea of that being the determining factor for getting to stay in a country.

I also liked being given the other side of those choices, and seeing what goes into the back end of the simulation. I liked Deep as a character more than Idir, but that may have just been because of the nature of their roles in the story.

To me, Deep’s choices and his test is more interesting than what Idir chooses. Based on what you learn of him and what he’s been through, it’s easy to see the direction and the choices that he’s going to make int he simulation. What you can’t see is Deep’s choices and their lasting impacts.

The length of this story is a blessing. It doesn’t need more than 100 pages to get its point across, and I enjoyed that.

I also know that I’ll enjoy pretty much everything Sylvain Neuvel writes. He uses format to his advantage and the same is true of The Test.

-Siobhan

Artemis by Andy Weir | Book Review

December 29th 2017 – January 1st 2018
★★★★☆

If you look on the books subreddit, the discussion for Artemis by Andy Weir can come across as people being unsure of the age of the character, and not being a huge fan of the way Jazz talks. As a side note, I do not recommend going into that thread if you haven’t read the book. If you haven’t read the book, this review doesn’t contain spoilers, so you’re safe.

Artemis is a relatively light read, if you don’t mind a lot of technical scientific discussion mixed in with quite a bit of immature dialogue and cursing. That being said, I really enjoyed it.

I don’t want to fully compare this book to The Martian, I don’t think it’s a fair direct comparison, but I will say this: I think that these two books aren’t really in the same category. The Martian felt much more realistic than Artemis did. It wasn’t the location, they both take place off of Earth, for me it was the amount of time that had surpassed. Both novels are very well researched, extremely technical, and have snide main characters. However, since more time had passed between present day and Jazz’s time in Artemis, it felt more like future science fiction than The Martian did to me.

The main character of this book is Jazz Bashara, a woman who grew up in Artemis, which is the lunar colony in this novel. Jazz is a criminal. She smuggles things into Artemis and does other small criminal-ey things. Her character is not for everyone. Jazz can come across as annoying and a bit of an ass at times, and definitely does not act her age. I found Jazz to be really funny and smart, even if her knowledge was a bit over-convenient to the plot line. I enjoyed her relationship with her father, and how underneath everything, she was really a good person who was trying to do her best.

This book is about a heist. As I said earlier, no spoilers, so I’ll just say that the heist has to do with control over production in Artemis. The plot is fast paced, and I flew through the 305 page book in less than two days. This book has two flaws: it’s characters are polarizing, in that the audience is either going to really enjoy Jazz, or really want her to shut up, and the plot is very convenient. Much like The Martian, Jazz knows exactly how to solve whatever problem comes her way.

This was a great book to start 2018 on. It was quick, fun, and provided just the right amount of sass that I was looking for in science fiction. With a fun, diverse cast of characters, I gave this book four stars. The only thing that could have made this book a five star book for me was if there was less convenience in the plot, or if Jazz didn’t have all the answers herself.

-Siobhan