review

The Survival Game

I received an uncorrected Advanced Reading Copy of this book by Nicky Singer, which is what my review is based on. The premise of the book sounds amazing! It’s a near-future dystopia where every man – or woman or child – fights for themselves and needs identity papers if you want to survive! See the blurb below:

In a world full of checkpoints and controls, can love and hope defy the borders? A searing, timely story, as arresting as it is beautiful.

Mhairi Anne Bain owns only two things: a gun with no bullets and her identity papers.

The world is a shell of what it once was. Now, you must prove yourself worthy of existence at every turn, at every border checkpoint. And if you are going to survive, your instincts will become your most valuable weapon.

Mhairi has learnt the importance of living her own story, of speaking to no one. But then she meets a young boy with no voice at all, and finds herself risking everything to take him to safety.

And so Mhairi and the silent boy travel the road north. But there are rumours that things in Scotland have changed since she has been away. What Mhairi finds there is shocking and heart-breaking, but might finally re-connect her to her sense of self and to the possibility of love.

An extraordinary story about survival and what it costs, about the power of small kindnesses to change everything.

Now, as I said, it sounds amazing. I like the kind of post-apocalyptic vibes, and I adore Scotland so I was all on board with this.

But I just couldn’t finish it.

And this hurts me, because I rarely don’t finish books. But I just found this one incredibly difficult to continue. Mhairi is a 14 year old girl, hardened by her past, and a very believable character, but the story is almost completely narrated by her mind, and this is one part that I found most difficult. Because she’s traveling with a silent companion, the whole beginning of the book is just Mhairi speaking in her mind. I may be coming to a realization that I need dialogue to keep a story going for me.

I decided to put the book down at approximately 40% of the way through. But I’m reading other reviews I knew there was a twist/moment at the end of the book that was truly amazing. So I did the terrible thing of reading the end of the book. And while the ending may be better if you’ve read the rest of the book, it was the deciding factor for me to stop reading it. I know this is all backwards, and you shouldn’t read the end before you reach it. But in this case, when I wasn’t enjoying the book in the first place, I’m glad I didn’t devote more time to the book to get to that ending.

As I said, I absolutely love the premise of this book. And I really really wanted to enjoy it. I think it could be a great book for people who enjoy a more realistic post-apocalyptic story, and for those who like journey style stories. So if you do like either of those, I would recommend it!

But unfortunately, this book has ended up on my DNF list. Sorry fam!

Happy readings!

B x

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