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The Survival Game

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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.

384 pages, Paperback

First published July 26, 2018

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About the author

Nicky Singer

17 books44 followers
Nicky has written four novels for adults, two books of non-fiction but most of her recent work is for young people. Her first children’s novel Feather Boy won the Blue Peter ‘Book of the Year’ Award, was adapted for TV (winning a BAFTA for Best Children’s Drama) and then commissioned by the National Theatre as a musical with lyrics by Don Black and music by Debbie Wiseman. In 2010 Nicky was asked by Glyndebourne to adapt her novel Knight Crew (a re-telling of the King Arthur legend set in contemporary gangland) for an opera with music by Julian Philips. In 2012 her play Island (about ice-bears and the nature of reality) premiered at the National Theatre and toured 40 London schools. She also published The Flask that year. A story about songs and souls and things which live in bottles, The Guardian called The Flask ‘a nourishing and uplifting story, with big themes and a big heart’. Nicky has recently re-written Island as a novel with illustrations by Children’s Laureate, Chris Riddell.

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5 stars
292 (29%)
4 stars
341 (34%)
3 stars
235 (23%)
2 stars
85 (8%)
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31 (3%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 209 reviews
Profile Image for Bex (Beckie Bookworm).
1,868 reviews1,194 followers
June 1, 2020
While I am sure this for some will be a worth-while endeavour The Survival Game is just not something I have been able to get into.
If it was just a case of me not being invested in the plot yet I would plod on here but I am finding the very abrupt style of writing hard to adjust to.
On top of that, the chapters themselves are really short and though the original premise is something I was intrigued by I just can't get over my disconnect with the writing style.
I also really wasn't a fan of the whole castle reference: I understood what Mhairi was doing with the whole separation and boxing away from all of her trauma: so it was an actual separate entity, apart even.
I just found it a bit weird as I didn't comprehend straight away what she was actually doing so was a trifle bemused originally.
There are plenty of glowing reviews here for this so just because this wasn't my bag isn't to say it won't be yours.
I voluntary reviewed an Arc of The Survival Game.
All opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

Reviewed By Beckie Bookworm
Profile Image for Emma.
2,385 reviews810 followers
August 12, 2018
In a crowded speculative fiction market, The Survival Game is a remarkable and original offering. It is more powerful for being a YA novel because the details of some horrendous events are never fully described the relationship between Mhairi and her companion is at the very heart of the book. They find in each other a reason to live and carry on. A tough new order has been created and Mhairi and companion fall foul of it. This was a refreshingly different take on post apocalyptic writing with climate a causal factor. The author’s take on how society regulates and manages its citizens and resources was was definitely feasible. Recommended.
Many thanks to Netgalley for an arc of this book. All opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Tracy Hager.
315 reviews
October 22, 2018
This is the most profound book I've read in years. I found the beginning so irritating I nearly gave up. The author's style is quite repetitive and she refers to 'castle', which is the place in the protagonist's mind where she keeps her worst experiences locked away. By the end of the novel I got it and loved it.
Seriously, if I could, I would make this book mandatory reading. It's set in the near distant future; the ice caps have melted, the southern hemisphere is riddled with oppressive heat, famine... and walls and borders have gone up everywhere. The result is a mass exodus to northern countries. (Nicky Singer was friends with the director of Friends of the Earth and took conversations with him about the likely outcomes of climate change as the what-if in this novel.) This is a story about about Mhairi and a boy, and their experience.
I don't want to give anything away, except to say that in the current hostile environment of Brexit, this is an important book that will make you think and feel. It's Young Adult but could just as easily be adult. It reminded me of The Road, A Fine Balance, and All the Truth that's in Me, where you can't help but go deep with the characters.
Read The Survival Game to the end and thank me. Then pass it to friends and family and I truly believe the world will be a better place for it. This is now top of my pile of books dealing with empathy.
Profile Image for ⭐Anny⭐ (Book Princess).
423 reviews261 followers
February 11, 2021
That was...different. I see why it's not for everyone, but I liked it.

The Survival Game is a quiet book. It's a survival story, yes, but it's also the story of a girl, her experiences and her choices. Not much action happens in this book, but it opens your eyes in a way; shows you a possible future of our planet (taking climate change and overpopulation into account). And while the setting is grim, there's still the characters' hope.

I liked Mhairi as a main character. She's strong and persistent. She keeps going even though it's hard. I only found it a bit unbelievable she's only 14 - I kept making her way older in my head.
Then there's the mute little boy she meets and who starts accompanying her. I fell in love with him a little. Him being mute made his character even more powerful.

Now let's talk about the writing style. Imagine this. A sentence. After a sentence. And another. It goes like this. The whole book long. (...) Yes, it took some getting used to, even annoyed me at times. The chapters also are very very short. But overall, I think the style fit the story because survival is a lonely, tedious thing. Also Mhairi experienced some terrible things she keeps locked away in her head and that became very clear. The ending though... that was sad. But also hopeful. It's weird. And: this is a standalone, so no annoying cliffhanger!

So I liked the book because it was different. I love the genre, and even though this wasn't at all like the books I usually read I liked it. On first sight it might seem boring, but going deeper, it's a very meaningful and hopeful book. The feelings and emotions portrayed in it are very real. It made me feel things. It also was a very quick read. Sometimes I missed a bit more direct speech/dialogue, and the chapters could have been a bit longer. But in the end, this was a good book and a solid 4 stars for me!
Profile Image for Steffi.
2,853 reviews162 followers
January 23, 2019
"Davor und Danach" ist mir schon lange vor Erscheinungstermin mit seinem besonderen Cover und dem interessanten Klappentext aufgefallen. Ich habe mich auf eine spannende Dystopie bzw. ein Buch mit ein wenig Endzeitstimmung, bedingt durch Klimawandel, gefreut.

Leider hat dieses Buch mit einer Dystopie überhaupt nichts zu tun. Das Buch spielt zwar mindestens 20 Jahre in der Zukunft, aber die Autorin hält es nicht für notwendig die Welt ein wenig näher zu erklären und zu beschreiben. Kurze Sätze am Rande benennen ein paar aktuelle Gesetze und immer wieder erzählt die Protagonistin vom Davor. Vielen Dank, das davor kenne ich selbst, aber mich hätte mehr interessiert wie die Welt im Danach aussieht. Das world-building ist in diesem Buch einfach nur schlecht und dafür gibt es dicke Punkte Abzug.

Das Thema des Buches ist Flüchtlinge und der Umgang mit dieses. Ein Thema, das immer noch aktuell und politisch brisant ist, zusätzlich auch unglaublich wichtig. Leider ist es der Autorin nicht gelungen dieses Thema für mich auf eine spannende und packende Art und Weise zu verpacken. Das Buch liest sich zwar recht schnell, aber die Handlung ist meist leider sehr zäh und ich hab mich stellenweise wirklich gelangweilt. Zudem ist der Schreibstil sehr nüchtern und emotionslos, so dass mich die Geschichte nicht wirklich berühren konnte und alles sehr distanziert wirkt.

Die Geschichte hat eigentlich Potenzial, aber die Umsetzung war mir leider zu blass und unausgereift. Sehr enttäuschend, da ich mich wirklich auf das Buch gefreut habe.
Profile Image for mondena.
38 reviews11 followers
February 16, 2019
so ein wichtiges buch mit einer unglaublichen berührenden und traurigen geschichte. ich hätte niemals mit so einem ende gerechnet.
Profile Image for Lulai.
1,240 reviews158 followers
July 20, 2019
Such an important book, we know the climate change will be catastrophic and this book show this with perfection. I really love the way it is not blaming anyone it just stay factual and that the scary part
Profile Image for Amiad.
388 reviews8 followers
January 23, 2020
יחד עם המוני פליטים שבורחים מההתחממות הגלובלית, מארי בת ה-16 מנסה לחזור לבדה אל סקוטלנד וכדי להוסיף על הקושי מצטרף אליה נגד רצונה ילד קטן.

ספר לא פשוט, מטלטל ומרתק. על הישרדות בעתיד הקרוב. למרות שאני לא לגמרי מסכים עם המסר קראתי אותו כמעט ברצף.
Profile Image for Jemima Pett.
Author 29 books325 followers
July 2, 2018
This is an older MG, younger teen and YA book that every adult should read!

Nicky Singer perfectly captures the likely dilemmas we will be facing as climate change hits us harder, and refugees will not just be fleeing aggressive regimes but aggressive weather conditions.

We follow MAB - Mhairi Bain, as she travels north, making her way through many and dubious ways from the encounter with Saharan border guards where her parents died, to the place she thinks of as home - where her Grandmother still lives - the Isle of Arran. There are plenty of triggers for me on her journey, not least a tour of Glasgow that my blogging friend the Glasgow Gallivanter will find worthy.

The story is gripping and relentless. The voice of Mhairi is clear, concise, and takes you through all the dangerous things in her past that she keeps reliving until she consigns them to the 'Castle' to be locked safely away. It's a great coping mechanism. The voice of the boy she befriends is even clearer - amazingly, because he is mute.

This is a brilliant book, which I recommend to all. Not just because of the dangers, institutional barriers faced, and cruelty of people in charge of inhumane conditions, but also because of the moral dilemmas Mhairi's Grandmother expounds. We should all do to think on these things, and think deeply.

An immediate addition to my list for Book of the Year.
Profile Image for Racheli Zusiman.
1,387 reviews47 followers
November 4, 2019
ספר חזק מאוד. כתיבה מעולה. הספר הוא כביכול דיסטופיה, המתרחשת בעולם עתידני שבו משאבי כדור הארץ התדלדלו בגלל ההתחממות הגלובלית והמסת הקרחונים. אנשים מאזור קו המשווה - בספר מתייחסים ספציפית למדינות אפריקה השונות - מנסים להגר לאזורים הצפוניים של כדור הארץ.
מארי היא נערה ממקור סקוטי שבורחת מסודן, שם שהתה במשך שנים עם הוריה בגלל עבודתה של אמא שלה, ומנסה לחזור לבית סבתה בסקוטלנד. אנחנו פוגשים אותה בדרך לשם, אחרי שעברה כל מיני תלאות, והיא פוגשת ילד קטן שהמלווה שלו מת, והם חוברים אחד לשני.
כמו בספר "הדרך", הפואנטה פה כמובן אינה הדיסטופיה, אלא השימוש שהסופרת עושה בה כדי לדבר על נושאים כמו גבולות, לאומיות, ערבות הדדית, אהבה, הגירה, פליטים, מוסר, ועוד. הנושאים מאוד רלוונטיים ועכשוויים לשנים האחרונות, במיוחד בהתייחס למדיניות ממשל טראמפ ולמלחמת האזרחים בסוריה.
הספר מאוד נגע בי. לא קורה בו המון אבל העלילה מאוד מדויקת. הוא אינו מעורר תקווה כמו הספר "הדרך", הוא עצוב וקודר ממנו, מציאותי יותר, ופעמים רבות זה מרגיש כאילו הוא מתאר מציאות שכבר קיימת בעולמנו. נתתי 5 כוכבים כי מבחינתי הוא באמת בלתי נשכח.
Profile Image for Clair Sharpe.
499 reviews40 followers
July 15, 2018
The Survival Game is set in a world in the near future, where Global Warming has become a real problem and the Arctic ice cap has melted, temperatures are rising and the everyone is trying to get to somewhere with a cooler climate to survive. We follow the story of 14 year old Mhairi, whose father was born on the Isle of Arran in Scotland and whose mother is from Sudan. We join the story with Mhairi alone, having managed to travel from the Sudan to Cairo before being deported to England. The only two things she owns are a gun with no bullets and her papers. After escaping a riot at the Heathrow Detention Centre she is travelling on foot to try and get back to her grandmother on the Isle of Arran where she should be allowed to live on account of her global passport and the fact she is a juvenile.
She comes across a small boy who is alone and doesn't speak and although she doesn't want the burden of caring for anyone else, especially an illegal who doesn't have any papers, she finds herself starting caring for the boy as they journey together.
This was a great look at a future using issues that we are dealing with today such as global warming and the attitude we have towards refugees. It is shocking how the world has turned out and the lengths people will go to, to protect themselves and what they have. Its a story of survival and morality. It's shocking and emotional and Mhairi is a great narrator.
Many thanks to Hodder Children's book for my Advanced Readers Copy.
Profile Image for Rona.
Author 9 books313 followers
July 30, 2018
This is a wonderful novel, set in 2049, when the earth has heated up and migration has hit new highs. There are also new rules in place and the world is a harsher place as countries try and stretch their resources to feed their growing populations. The story follows 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 find her way back to the north of the UK, where we pick up her journey, when she meets a five year old boy.

I loved the writing. I really loved the wisdom behind the writing, and the way Mhairi explained her new way of thinking. I especially liked her concept of time, given that she didn't have a watch. That was really special. As was her understanding that some things are solid, like thirst and hunger and some things are slidy, like truth and justice.

The book tackles such a difficult subject with a young person's mindset and I think that was so well done. Honestly, I cannot praise this book enough. Loved it, just loved it and it is one of a very few books that I would definitely read again.
Profile Image for Booklunatic.
1,012 reviews
January 20, 2019
3,5 Sterne

Das Szenario war eigentlich ziemlich interessant, die Geschichte aber irgendwie so...unstrukturiert. Das Ende wiederum hatte eine ziemliche emotionale Wucht. Das Buch lässt mich etwas unentschlossen zurück...
Profile Image for Mandy.
320 reviews34 followers
July 19, 2020

Have you ever read a book in one breath? Have you ever drawn a sharp intake of air in the opening pages and then held it right until the end, barely able to move or tear your eyes away from the devastation on the pages in front of you? This is what it felt like when I was reading Nicky Singer’s post-apocalyptic The Survival Game.

The Survival Game is one of those rare novels. Beautifully written, it is a book that will drag you along through every emotion possible as you try to fathom how devastatingly plausible the entire story is.

Our protagonist is 14-year-old Mhairi, a girl who has travelled alone from the Sudan and is making her way across Britain to her home in Scotland. Except that it might not be her home anymore; the world as we know it consists of closed borders and checkpoints, each country cutting itself off in the face of catastrophic environmental devastation and global human migration. This is our world a mere 30 years in the future and it is not pretty.

Mhairi owns nothing except the clothes on her back, a gun with no bullets and her papers that prove her right to be in Scotland. All she needs to do is to keep heading north and she will eventually get there, to her home.

“Today I wonder if this is what home is: walking somewhere where you don’t need a map. Where the landscape is laid in your heart”

Her position is precarious for this is a world in which crimes or misdemeanours result in years deducted from your predetermined time on this earth and the very last thing anyone should be doing is picking up an illegal ‘alien’ on their travels. Except that this is exactly what Mhairi does when she meets a mute child and puts her entire journey in jeopardy.

What follows is a battle between the will for survival and the basic human qualities of love and morality because what is the point of survival if we don’t live our lives right?

The Survival Game is an astonishing story of survival, meaningfulness and morality in a world pushed to the brink by global shortages. It is also a book about layers and details, so meticulously researched that you will find yourself appreciating every bite of food you take and every, single drop of water.

I give The Survival Game by Nicky Singer a superb five out of five stars and predict that this will be among my top five books of 2018.

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Profile Image for Gabby.
278 reviews18 followers
September 4, 2018
"That's when I learnt that it is not only countries which have borders. People have borders too."

Thanks to Hachette Australia for sending me a copy of THE SURVIVAL GAME for review!

THE SURVIVAL GAME is a dystopian novel about a future that is very well possible for Earth with the current climate change path, however, Nicky Singer writes it with such beautiful prose, that not only is the truth scary, but raw and tragically heartbreaking.

"I listen to what people say and also what they do not say. Sometimes the useful things are to be found in the gaps."

We follow Mhairi, a young girl, on her dangerous journey North to the place she sees as home. Along the way, she meets a five-year-old boy who joins her on the journey, and this, for me, is where the heart of the story is held. Although she doesn't want to care for anyone else, especially one without papers which is illegal, Mhairi forms a sibling-like bond with the boy.

"Home is not just where you were born. Home is where you lay down memories."

This story was hard to read at times, and the ending was incredibly heartbreaking! Don't get me wrong, I love an ending that sends chills up my spine and makes me teary eyed, so that's one of the reasons why I did really enjoy THE SURVIVAL GAME. I didn't know what to expect going into it, but I was definitely in for a shock the more I read.

Although it was a bit slow at times, and the story line wasn't as action-packed and exciting as what I would've liked, it made up for that in other parts such as the beautiful writing style (as you can see in some of the quotes I included), the characterisation, and the raw emotion.

"About how - if you want to - you can keep people alive with the power of your mind. How you can continue to stand them upright or hear their voices or spot them in crows even though you know perfectly well that they are dead."
Profile Image for Tinkerreads.
15 reviews26 followers
February 25, 2019
Anfangs war das Buch sehr langatmig und stellenweise kam es mir vor als möchte man es einfach nur in die Länge ziehen. Erst weit über der Hälfte konnte mich die Protagonistin fesseln und wäre Mo, ihr „Begleiter“ nicht gewesen, hätte ich das Buch längst zur Seite gelegt. Zum Schluss habe ich die ein oder andere Träne vergossen aber dennoch konnte mich das Buch nur halbwegs überzeugen. Ich finde das Thema wichtig aber das alleine macht für mich kein Buch aus. Beeindruckend fand ich, wie überzeugend die Autorin Mo erschaffen hat. Der stumme Junge hatte es mir am meisten angetan und ich fand ihn von allen Charakteren am Besten beschrieben. Mit ihm habe ich gebangt und gehofft aber mit Mhairi konnte ich mich leider nicht identifizieren.
15 reviews
May 31, 2019
Nicky Singer has a way with words that makes you feel every emotion the characters are feeling and more!
Profile Image for Stephen.
1,061 reviews13 followers
May 30, 2021
Award winning author Nick Singer turns her attention to a young adult dystopian future, and she does it very well.

Mhairi Bain is trying to get home to her Grandmother on the isle of Aran. She is travelling in a Dystopian near future, just about 30 years from now in which the climate crisis is causing mass emigration, borders are being shut to immigrants and unions are being broken up - Scotland having left the union of the United Kingdom. At first is sounded like Mhairi was travelling through a post apocalyptic wasteland but as things went on, the setting became more plausible.

She meets a man travelling with a five year old boy. The man dies and the boy follows Mhairi, but is mute. The boy has no papers, and that is a problem because immigrants are not tolerated in this new world.

This is a very clever book, which has the frustration of powerlessness, a dark and angsty vision of the future, but also manages to find brightness in all that, and makes some very powerful statements. It is excellent young adult fiction that should set readers thinking.

The writing style makes clever use of terse language and short chapters. If you don't like it, some sections can be read "diagonally" without losing the story flow.

But there should be a warning: this story is desperately sad. That sadness will make it powerful, but that does not stop it being sad.

In terms of believability, this book did some things very well. Sense of place is amazing, as the author describes real places and makes you feel like you are there. On technology, she describes some very unlikely technology (nothing too out of this world though, so I'll let that pass). In terms of the greater scenario, I don' really buy the presumption that northern nations would all sign up to instituting population control by mandated euthanasia at age 74. Nor other aspects of the geo-political situation. But then, if we accept this is speculative fiction, and allow the "what if..." then everything else just begins to follow on with a dark inevitability. And that is why the story is so powerful.

Recommended... but not if you can't read sad stories.

Profile Image for Penny.
253 reviews6 followers
October 19, 2018
Woah... this book rendered me speechless.
It is hard-hitting, gritty and utterly shocking.

In a dystopian world where global warming is forcing people to move northwards, away from the drying and dying equatorial regions, Scotland is closing its borders and refugee camps and detention centres are springing up.

Mhairi, a Scottish national, is making her way north from the Sudan, where she has been living with her parents, when she comes across a young boy and and an old man. When circumstances lead her to have to help the boy she has some tough decisions to make....

An amazing read... my pick of 2018 so far...
Profile Image for ninoimwunderland.
85 reviews47 followers
April 12, 2019
Davor und Danach. Ein Buch, das Themen behandelt, die nicht aktueller sein könnten: Flüchtlinge, Auffanglager, Registrierungen, Mauern und Klimawandel. Der Klappentext klingt auch super interessant, von daher war ich natürlich sehr gespannt auf die Geschichte. Jedoch hat das Buch mich leider nicht komplett überzeugen können. Bis zum letzten Drittel, war ich überhaupt nicht drin und fand es ehrlich gesagt etwas.. langweilig. Die Geschichte wird aus der Ich-Perspektive erzählt und es waren insgesamt sehr viele kurze Kapitel, was ich gut fand. Der Schreibstil an sich war flüssig und gut leserlich, jedoch hat mir wie gesagt vor allem die Spannung gefehlt, welche meiner Meinung nach bei Dystopien genauso wichtig ist, wie das Weltenbild. Doch auch zum Weltenbild gab es nicht ganz so viele Informationen, was ich sehr schade fand. Man begleitet Mhairi und einen kleinen Jungen auf der Flucht, aber erfährt immer nur beiläufig ein paar Dinge über die Hintergründe, die für die Situation auf der zukünftigen Welt verantwortlich sind.
Das Ende hat es aber für mich dann doch noch etwas rausgehauen. Dort kam Spannung auf und ich war an den Seiten gefesselt, was ich ehrlich gesagt so nicht mehr erwartet hatte.
Alles in allem finde ich, dass die Geschichte sehr viel Potential hatte, gerade weil die Themen so aktuell sind und viel mehr darüber gesprochen werden sollte, es aber leider (meiner Meinung nach) nicht so gut umgesetzt wurde, wie ich es gehofft hatte.
Profile Image for Grace.
310 reviews
May 26, 2019
This is the first apocolyptic novel I have ever read which expressed climate change as the soul reason for the discourse which the Earth is suffering. It was an interesting concept, which is also incredibly scary because during this time we are living through at the minute this potential future seems too likely and possible.
However, at times I did feel the novel lost its way especially at the ending.
But, I would definitely still recommend this book, as the concept is interesting and provides a glimpse of a potential future our Earth could experience.
Profile Image for Mailin.
23 reviews
August 6, 2019

Dieses Buch, auch wenn es ab und zu seinen Längen hatten, wird mich noch lange begleiten und in meinem Gedächtnis bleiben.
Ein sehr bewegendes und wichtiges Buch, Hut ab!

„Denn da steht er.
Und steht.
Dieser kleine Titan.
Steht ungefähr tausend Jahre da.
Und sagt ohne ein Wort: Ich liebe dich.“ (S.377)

„Heimat wirklich nicht nur ein Ort ist. Es sind die Menschen, die du liebst. Die Menschen, die du nicht verlieren willst.“ (S.379)

Profile Image for Jenny Eulenmatz.
395 reviews12 followers
February 21, 2019
Das Buch wurde letztes Jahr auf der Leipziger Buchmesse vorgestellt. Der Verlag wollte hier mal etwas völlig Neues wagen und hat auf das Buch kein Titel gedruckt, was ich sehr spannend fand. Der Titel steht nur an den Seiten des Buches. Die Aufmachung von Davor und Danach ist sehr edel und hochwertig. Das Buch ist ein absoluter Hingucker in der schwarz-weißen Aufmachung mit den goldenen Elementen.

Der Einstieg in das Buch war sehr gewöhnungsbedürftig, denn Kapitel waren enorm kurz und beinhalteten gemäß Kapitelüberschrift oft immer ein Thema. Das wirkte zunächst fragmentarisch, aber der rote Faden wurde hier nicht gestört und die Handlung ist fortlaufend ohne Unterbrechungen. Unsere Erzählerin Mhairi will vom Sudan zurück in ihre Heimat Schottland. Allerdings befindet sich Mhairi nicht mehr im Sudan als wir in die Geschichte einsteigen.
Das große Thema in dem Buch ist auf jeden Fall Flucht aus der eigenen Heimat. Wir befinden uns im sogenannten „Danach“. Über das „Davor“ erfährt man eigentlich so überhaupt nichts. Ich dachte auch, dass wir uns hier in einer eher dystopischen Welt befinden, aber es ist der Realität doch noch sehr nah. In welchem Jahr die Geschichte spielt, wird auch nicht benannt. Das ganze Worldbuilding und die Strukturen dieser „neuen Welt“ fand ich sehr schwach beschrieben. So richtig kann sich kein Bild machen. Im Klappentext steht, dass sie Leute wegen Wasservorräten nach Norden wollen. Das muss man wohl so hinnehmen. Im Buch steht da nichts weiter zu.

Mhairi ist alleine auf dem Weg als auf einen kleinen Jungen trifft. Der Junge bleibt die ganze Geschichte über stumm und namenlos. Erst spät erfährt man, dass er so 6 Jahre alt ist. Obwohl er eigentlich fast unsichtbar ist, ist er doch Dreh- und Angelpunkt für die Handlung. Mhairi ist zunächst sehr emotionslos und es geht ihr hier alleine ums nackte Überleben. Sie schreckt dafür auch nicht vor Gewalt und andere Grobheiten zurück. Zunächst war nicht so ganz klar, warum Mhairi nun den Jungen im Schlepptau hat, der eigentlich für sie eine zusätzliche Last ist. Dazu kommt, dass er keine Papiere hat, was in dieser Welt ein ernsthaftes Problem ist. Mhairi wird mit der Zeit ein wenig weicher. Ihre Entwicklung fand ich sehr gelungen und entlockte mir definitiv auch Sympathiepunkte.

Trotzdem ist die Geschichte an sich sehr emotionslos und distanziert. Es werden hier natürlich einige Themen angeschnitten, wie z.B. Überbevölkerung und Flüchtlingsströme, aber so richtig gut ausgearbeitet fand ich die Ideen dazu nicht. Manches konnte ich auch nicht so richtig nachvollziehen. Wo ist Mhairi gerade? Was hat es mit ihrem Pass auf sich? Wieso gibt es überhaupt Überbevölkerung? Usw. Es bleibt alles irgendwie im Schatten. Das Ende dagegen ist sehr tragisch und offenbart endlich mal ein Strauß an Emotionen und Reibungspunkte.

Ich hatte mir von Davor und Danach ein wenig mehr versprochen als ich bekommen habe. Für mich war die ganze Welt nicht wirklich ausgereift. Es fehlte einfach überall an Informationen, wie diese Welt funktioniert und wie sie aufgebaut ist. Dazu kommt die doch sehr emotionslose und durch kurzen Kapitel sehr abgehackte Schreibweise. Schade!
Ich vergebe 3 von 5 Sternen.
Profile Image for Bexnbookx.
251 reviews99 followers
January 25, 2019
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DNF at page 164

The Survival Game is set in a world full of checkpoints, controls, borders and identity papers. Mhairi owns only two things, a gun with no bullets and her papers, but with a world that is a shell of what it once was, people must now prove themselves worthy of existence and every border.

When Mhairi discovers a young boy that doesn't speak, she strangely risks her life to take him to safety in search for her former home in Scotland. With the world changing, and Scotland a different place than when she left, Mhairi will learn a lot about survival and herself.

This was a dystopian which is my absolutely favourite genre, so I obviously went into this book with high expectations. I thought the premise of this story was amazing, but unfortunately I was disappointed.

Although the setting was unique, the writing style was jarring and I couldn't connect with it nor did I want to continue any further.

This might be for you, but unfortunately this one wasn't for me.

Rating: 1/5 star - DNF

Purchase The Survival Game by Nicky Singer from Book Depository and receive FREE SHIPPING: https://www.bookdepository.com/Surviv...
Profile Image for Caitlyn.
254 reviews24 followers
May 30, 2018
Review of an uncorrected Advanced Reading Copy

The Survival Game is a new book for young adults that is due to release in July of this year (2018). Whilst the book itself was hearty in length - 355 pages - I found that it was lacking in content. I do understand that this is an uncorrected copy and that there are aspects that may change, and I'm intrigued to see if and how it would alter to what it currently is. Personally, I felt that this book needed more content and less waffle. It was mediocre, to say the least, and I honestly found it rather tedious to read.

The book follows fourteen-year-old Mhairi Anne Bain and her survival run to get to Scotland, where along the way she meets a young mute boy who is about five years old - she later refers to him as Mo. In order to cross borders in this world, you need your papers, and these papers are considered quite valuable. My assumption would be to consider them like a bank card, you need it but don't want others to get their hands on it. Some things are touched on in the creation of this journey but never really explained in details, and I often found that things would almost be "forgotten" along the way and then suddenly brought back up again at a later stage as if the author herself had just remembered the piece of information existed. One prime example of this would be Castle, which I guessed was Mhairi's mind or subconscious - a 'safe place' if you will.

The ending of this novel, however, is something that made it worthwhile. For the majority of my reading adventure for this one, I found myself thinking 'is something going to happen or what?'. To put it simply, I found the book boring, and I was going to file it as "did not finish" but decided to give it another chance. Whilst the ending didn't make up for the entirety of the novel, it certainly spiced things up a fraction - then immediately left the book hanging with far too many loose ends and questions. By far the shortest book hangover I've ever experienced. If this was just an opening for a sequel, then it is one less book for me to read as I don't see worth in it.

Overall, this book was not my cup of tea. In fairness, I'm not the demographic so I will give it some credit. It's your standard young adult book, there is nothing significant about it to make it special, so that will make it either a big hit for the teens or a major miss. Only time will tell.
Profile Image for Laurie.
60 reviews11 followers
July 8, 2018
A gripping YA dystopian novel. The main character did irritate me at times with some of her decisions and thoughts, but as a 14 year old the character is portrayed very well. My favourite character was little Mo.
I enjoyed the plot, I can definitely see some of these things happening in the future (especially the tagging, which I was actually discussing with my partner before I reached that point in the book!) And there were a few edge of my seat moments.
I certainly did not see the ending coming, and it broke my heart. If you like fast paced, first person dystopian novels I recommend The Survival Game.
3.5 stars (rounded to 4)
Profile Image for Cat.
780 reviews73 followers
August 28, 2018
I really struggled with rating this book, because, honestly, at first I didn't like it at all. I didn't understand the main character's thought processes and actions. Honestly, I just wasn't a fan.

Then I started looking at this book slightly differently, because I wondered if the main character might be on the autistic spectrum. I don't know if anyone else has thought this/if it's been mentioned anywhere else, but if Mhairi was on the spectrum, then this book got a whole lot better. Her decisions and narrative voice made a lot more sense to me that way, as did how she coped with situations.

That's why I ended up giving this book four stars. Also, it has quite a good commentary on refugees/evacuees and euthanasia.
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