YA: The Survival Game by Nicky Singer

Review published on September 10, 2018.

Set in 2049, this is a pertinent and highly insightful account of a world that is faced by the ultimate culmination of global warming. Migration and how to control it represent a huge issue. There are those who have and who live adequately, and those that have nothing and struggle to exist. Death by the needle at an agreed age has been made lawful in order to give more people the chance to survive.

The story centres on two main characters. The first is 15-year-old Mhairi, who was born on the Isle of Arran and has travelled on her own from the Sudan, where she was living with her parents until they were killed. It has taken her a year to return to the Isle. Whilst on her journey, you learn how she has become paired with a young six-year-old mute boy, who she has named Mo. Mhairi has papers and can travel, whilst Mo has none, making him an alien – yet she is compelled to look after him.

They have to travel using all their wits. They encounter hunger, thirst, blistered feet, soldiers, detention camps and through Mhairi we learn how she sees the world, what drives her to act the way she does. She has become wily and incredibly resourceful. The relationship between Mhairi and Mo is a mix of practicality, at times frustration, but it is endearing as they learn to trust each other and face what might happen as they travel. You cannot help but be behind her, willing her to succeed, but also I found myself reflecting in wonder at the phenomenal thoughts, insight and articulation of Mhairi’s observations of people, their behaviours, their response to threat, the distrust, and what could offer an insight into future living. Beautiful, emotional, tense and at time brutal and heart wrenching, this is an excellent YA/crossover read.

Sara Garland 5/4

The Survival Game by Nicky Singer
Hodder Children’s Books 9781444944525 pbk Jul 2018

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