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.
THE SURVIVAL GAME – MY THOUGHTS
I loved this book so much. As a young adult dystopian novel, I didn’t know what to expect when it came to The Survival Game, but what I got was so much more. Set in the not so distant future, the story follows 14-year-old Mhairi as she travels from Sudan back to her homeland Scotland after the collapse of the world due to climate change. We join her already in England when she comes across a small boy. Despite her best efforts to remain alone and unrestricted, they become travel companions. What blossoms is something so much more as Mhairi learns what love, family and friendship is in a new and broken world.
Told in both the present as these two companions make their way through England and across the border into Scotland, and also back into Mhairi’s recent past over the previous 12 months as she made the thousands of miles from the Sudan to somehow make it home. Through doing so she learns that ‘home’ is more than just a place. It’s the people you love and the people you refuse to lose.
The Survival Game is slow to start but once it grips you, you are unable to put it down. Beautifully written, it is a wonderful exploration of what it is to be human. Our fears, our distrustful nature, our exploitation of power but also our capacity to love. With echoes of current affairs – the climate and migration –The Survival Game provides snapshots of a possible future which are uncomfortable and hit a little close to home. Both Mhairi and the boy are wonderful characters and I became invested in their journey, wanting to know where it ended. And wow, what an ending. Emotional and moving, it left me in tears.
Although The Survival Game is a young adult novel, I would say it was 14+ at least due to the content and topics covered, however this is a story that adults would no doubt enjoy too.
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DISCLOSURE: many thanks to the author and publisher for granting me an eARC of this title via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.