The Survival Game by Nicky Singer
Mhairi is 14 and on a journey toward her grandmother’s home in Scotland. It’s the not-so-distant future. The ice-caps no longer form and countries have euthanasia policies in place for population control. This is a world of checkpoints and drones. Borders are protected by soldiers with machine guns and identity papers mean everything.
Mhairi has travelled huge distances and endured great trauma; her survival tactics reflect her desperate need to stay alive, whatever the cost. When a small boy joins her things change for Mhairi, and despite her wariness she finds herself doing everything she can to protect him too. Their battle to survive informs us that small, thoughtful acts can be lifesaving.
Much of Mhairi’s world will be already sadly familiar to readers who have been following our news cycle over the past few years. She walks great distances only to be met with hostility and spends time in harsh detention facilities. It is impossible to read this book without considering the present day treatment of, and attitudes toward, refugees. In this way readers are asked not only what would you do? but also what can you do? and what should we do?.
The Survival Game is a powerful and relevant read for mature teen readers. It has a truly startling ending that might bring on some tears.