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 https://nickysinger.com or follow her on Twitter @nickysingerwrit.

Your Reviews

Sidrah from Southfield Grange Trust:

The Survival Game is about a girl called Mhairi Anne Bain who is making her way back home. The setting of the novel is around the idea off global warming. The surrounding world around Mhairi has turned dystopian as a result of severe climate change and in order to survive she has to be on the constant move. As the story develops, we are introduced to a mute boy who becomes Mhairi’s companion. Analepsis is also used by Nicky to describe Mhairi’s alternate life from before the climate change.

The novel is beautifully written in first person but in a way that it’s like a diary format. I think that this is done in a very clever way by Nicky as it makes the reader feel more involved and included. I felt that I was present in the book due to the use of first person. Moreover, the first person perspective allows more detail to be given on how the characters are feeling and what they are thinking as well. However, the downside to this is that sometimes this can result in not enough detail about the feelings of the other characters. In my opinion, this is what happened in this book. I felt that I really knew Mhairi, but not enough about Mo.

I loved how Nicky had built up the suspense and I also loved the way she describes it in ‘Slow Time’. Actually, I like how she uses this idea of slow time to describe the idea of time passing throughout little sections of the novel. This adds an alternate perspective to the book and also to the idea of time. This is something that really stood out to me individually.

From my perspective I so think that this book is suitable for both me and people my age as it contains an element of adventure as well as a hit of truth. The adventure element is the journey that Mhairi went on with Mo. The truth part of this is that the setting of the book could possibly be the world in the future if there is a huge climate change.

I would rate this book a four out of five because if I knew more detail about Mo, it would’ve been even better.

Sidrah gave The Survival Game 4 out of 5 and now plans to read White Rabbit, Red Wolf by Tom Pollock.

Rafeha from Grange Technology College:

I really liked it.

It was a great book about the journey of life.

Rafeha gave The Survival Game 5 out of 5 and now plans to read The Lost Witch by Melvin Burgess.

Thomas from King James's School, Knaresborough:

I found this book descriptive and emotional at times but it was also very hard to follow and at many points I was struggling to keep my enthusiasm of reading it alive. There were some parts of the book which were exciting and interesting but I think the ending was too short and felt rushed and I thought lacked creativity because the author spent too much time writing about Mhairi travelling to Arran. I also think the author should have included why the boy was mute as he was a key character and needed more background information. The book title is misleading for it is much less exciting than you would expect.

Thomas gave The Survival Game 3 out of 5 and now plans to read Payback by M A Griffin.

Sarah from Southfield Grange Trust:

In this story there is a girl named Mhairi and she is trying to reach her home with a young boy she meets on her journey. Something has happened to the Earth. It has caused the people of the world to become frantic and are trying to move to the north it is a thrilling and adventurous story.

The story was written in first person it was written as the events in the story took place however the character would often start talking about the past.

I enjoyed reading this story because it was mysterious and made me want to keep on reading. It was thrilling and I felt so many emotions reading it.

I think the book was appropriate for my age group and many people would enjoy reading it.

Sarah gave The Survival Game 5 out of 5 and now plans to read The Lost Witch by Melvin Burgess.

Hamid from Southfield Grange Trust:

The survival game by Nicky Singer is about a girl named Mhairi who is trapped in a world of climate change. The only solution is to travel North. So she does, but along the way she is stripped apart of her humanity. She goes through challenges that change her, transform her. Along the way she meets a boy. Her last hope of being humane is gifted to her.

I admire how Singer constructs the character of Boy to not speak. It leaves him open to questions about who he is and makes the reader always wondering. I believe the ending was rushed and there should have been more about the impact of what happened.

Overall, Singer wrote an amazing book that forged the corruption of this world and how it will impact the younger generation . And also the extreme measure of things that have to be done in order to maintain society.

Hamid gave The Survival Game 5 out of 5 and now plans to read The Lost Witch by Melvin Burgess.

Elisha from Cardinal Heenan:

When I first looked at the cover, I thought this book would be almost like the Hunger Games with a lot of violence and danger. It turns out it isn’t as exciting as the hunger games and it isn’t even close to being like it! The overall plot of the story is about a girl ,who is trying to find her way home, who encounters a young boy that she ends up befriending and taking home with her. They go through the difficulties of the changes in the world ?. It is set in a likely future that shows the consequences of global warming and how violent people can get.

I still don’t know why it is called The Survival Game as the story doesn’t really link towards it. I get that they are trying to survive but to me the title just doesn’t make any sense.

Overall I still like the book as it shows how people have to work together in order to stay alive.

Elisha gave The Survival Game 3 out of 5 and now plans to read White Rabbit, Red Wolf by Tom Pollock.

Jade from Southfield Grange Trust:

The book is about a girl helping out a young child by risking everything to take him to safety. The book is about survival of basis life skills and is written in first person.

I enjoyed some of the story because at some points it got intense but I disliked some parts that weren’t interesting, Some parts were confusing and I lost what was happening, it was jumbled up. I liked the part when Nicky Singer thinks about how they kept themselves warm by how they slept.

I like the way Mhairi was brave and risked everything for a boy. She didn’t know it was an adventure when it started.

The book was sad when the boy talked about his parents.

Overall I found the story confusing.

Jade gave The Survival Game 3 out of 5 and now plans to read The Lost Witch by Melvin Burgess.

Jade from Southfield Grange Trust:

The book is about a girl helping out a young child by risking everything to take him to safety. The book is about survival of basis life skills and is written in first person.

I enjoyed some of the story because at some points it got intense but I disliked some parts that weren’t interesting, Some parts were confusing and I lost what was happening, it was jumbled up. I liked the part when Nicky Singer thinks about how they kept themselves warm by how they slept.

I like the way Mhairi was brave and risked everything for a boy. She didn’t know it was an adventure.

Overall I found the story confusing.

Jade gave The Survival Game 3 out of 5 and now plans to read The Lost Witch by Melvin Burgess.

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.