The Survival Game

The Survival Game

Nicky Singer,

The Survival Game

Hodder, 2018

ISBN 9781444944525

14-16 Shortlist 2019


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out of 5



Who Wrote It?

Nicky Singer was born in Chalfont St Peter in Buckinghamshire. She has four sisters and a brother and it was through reading stories to her siblings that her love for stories and writing came about.

Her first break came when she won a writing competition at the age of six (she won a chocolate bar).

Nicky has written four novels for adults, two books of non-fiction but most of her recent work is for young people. In 2012 her play Island (about ice-bears and the nature of reality) premiered at the National Theatre and toured 40 London schools. She subsequently re-wrote Island as a novel with illustrations by former Children’s Laureate, Chris Riddell.

What's It About?

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.

Fact File

Nicky's book Feather Boy, written in 2002, won the Blue Peter Book Award, and the book was turned into a BBC series and later turned into a musical.

Nicky has 3 children – Roland, Edmund and Milo – and lives in Brighton.

The Survival Game was published by Hodder in July 2018.

You can find out more about Nicky on her website or follow her on Twitter @nickysingerwrit.

Your Reviews

Mrs from Southfield Grange Campus:

Set in the not too distant future the world is over-crowded with not enough resources to go round so the people, who are all classed as Global Citizens are killed by lethal injection at the age of 75. Years of life can be gifted to friends or family and you can take the needle early. Crime is punishable by the removal of years from your life.

Mhain is traveling alone from the Sudan towards the Isle of Aaron and her only living relative, her grandma. She lives on her wits and her instincts. She must reach her destination before she reaches her 15th birthday because once a citizen turns 15 they are no longer considered a juvenile. All she has are her ID papers and an unloaded gun.

She meets a lone, mute boy who doesn’t have any ID papers, and without being able to explain her actions to herself she decides to take him with her even though she is well aware that trafficking illegals carries a death sentence.

The book is written in short chapters with short, sometimes one word titles. It is a fast paced story following Mhain’s journey and not uncovering the truth about her until the end.

The characters are well written, Grandma is no pushover who will take a risk for her only grandchild, she is a hard woman of principle. When Mhari starts to fall in love with peter it is a beautifully described first love.

This is not my favourite genre but I enjoyed it. I would read other books by this author because I appreciated the writing style. Fans of The Hunger Games would probably enjoy this book, the issues addressed would in this book would interest students who care about climate change and the future of an overcrowded planet. It also gives rise to discussions about hard borders, immigrants and they way governments treat people.

Mrs gave The Survival Game 4 out of 5 and now plans to read The Sacrifice Box by Martin Stewart.

Rizwan from Grange technology College:

Journey to go beyond borders. Both physically and mentally for a teenage girl with ark secrets and a hidden past carefully revealed throughout the plot with a little mute boy who follows her as both friend and helper. It was written in first person for the main character whilst there was some aspects of the book that were in third person. I enjoyed the story but will not divulge why as I do not want to reveal anything of this wonderful book. I enjoyed the character of the mute boy as he is just patient and observing. I did not guess the ending. It made me happy to read a good book. I did not dislike the book at all. The story was suitable for my age group.

Rizwan gave The Survival Game 5 out of 5 and now plans to read Rosie Loves Jack by Mel Darbon.

Tara from Guiseley:

I enjoyed this book in most regards. Although more explanation could have been added about some aspects of the world and also the ending, it allows the reader to make their own decisions. I enjoyed the level of detail used to describe even the smallest things, and the development of the characters. Overall, a very creative book.

Tara gave The Survival Game 4 out of 5 and now plans to read The Sacrifice Box by Martin Stewart.