Sara's Reviews > Test

Test by William Sleator
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's review
Jul 09, 2008

did not like it
bookshelves: young-adult, hated, 2008
Read in July, 2008

This book had such potential but ultimately did not deliver. Its premise is both interesting and timely: everyone's future depends on passing a standardized test; if you don't pass it, you can't graduate high school, and you will never get ahead in life. The class differences are very obvious - there is terrible traffic and smog on the ground, whereas the rich fly around in their own helicopters and attend private schools that don't require the test to graduate. Ann, the main character, discovers that the test is a sham and that Lep, a foreign boy in her class, is being bribed by the maker of the test with test answers in exchange for him to do illegal things.

The story seemed interesting at the beginning, mainly because it was setting up the plot (most of which I already knew from reading the back cover), but even when interesting events happened, it was unable to keep my attention. For example, a substitute teacher comes to Ann's class and seems to know nothing about the all-important test and instead has them read real stories and makes lessons interesting. How, I wondered, did she get a job as a teacher if she doesn't know about the test? Where did the school find her? These questions were never answered.

Problems with the book: Much of Test was written in the passive voice. It drove me crazy and kept any potential action from seeming eventful. Though the book isn't all that long, events were constantly rehashed, such as "If she didn't do ___, then ___ would happen!" I knew that already, in every case, because it was already the driving force behind someone acting a certain way. It felt like much of this had to do will filling up pages so the story would be novel-length. Lep's dialogue also drove me crazy; to drive the point home that his English isn't good, his speech is written out poorly and, after a while, that becomes irritating. Furthermore, the love stories the author tried to develop were very, very lacking and not interesting. Worst of all, the ending is terrible! Everything is wrapped up very quickly, basically summarized, and is not satisfying. I even rolled my eyes at some of the ridiculousness that ensued!

This is all especially disappointing because I remember, years ago, reading books by WIlliam Sleator and enjoying them. I don't know if his writing has declined or if I simply had lower standards as a kid; at any rate, I feel confident that this book wouldn't have pleased me, even if I was that young again. I give this two stars because the overall idea driving this book's plot was interesting and I did enjoy parts of it, but there are much, much better teen books out there that have more developed plots, better paced action, and more satisfying endings. Parts of this book, in fact, made me think of Scott Westerfeld's Uglies series, which were all so much better than this.

Overall, if you have to read this book, get it from a library. It's just so disappointing.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Michelle I agree with your review. But William Sleator's earlier works truly are great! Singularity, The House of Stairs, Others See Us, are three of the best books I have ever read, so don't think it's because you had lower standards as a kid. It's so disappointing to read what he's writing today.

message 2: by Sara (new) - rated it 1 star

Sara Thanks for the comment. I reread Interstellar Pig recently and it really was as good as I remembered! It's so sad to think the same author who wrote something that great and memorable (to me, at least) wrote this awful book.

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