Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Test by William Sleator


Author: William Sleator
Publisher: Amulet Books

4 out of 5 stars

What if your life long dream is to become a doctor and save lives? Oh, well, that’s too bad because you can’t. Maybe you want to be a lawyer and defend innocent people in court. Sorry, you’re not good enough for that occupation and never will be. Isn’t this unfair? Well, it is, and in the future, once they decide your not worthy, that’s it, your life may as well be over. However, you do have a chance. The one chance that can make you or break you. That chance is… the test.

The XCAS test determines whether you will live an easy life of luxury and success, or will be so poor that you can barely make ends meet. Every senior, in every high school, across the entire nation, has to take the XCAS. If you pass, you go on to greater things. If you fail, your education is over. Passing the XCAS means you can graduate high school and go on to college. Failing means you will only be able to get low class jobs that pay almost nothing.

Ann has high hopes of passing the XCAS, but like many others, she believes that she never can. She wants to get away from the seemingly endless flow of traffic that takes hours upon hours to get through, and escape the smog coated streets that are so polluted that she must wear a mask to walk around outdoors. However, her dreams of passing the XCAS are put on hold.

A menacing man on a motorcycle has started to follow her home from school, and has even started to threaten her. Ann has no idea why, but can only hope that these ominous threats don’t continue. As Ann investigates deeper into who is behind all of this, she uncovers something that could change the future of the youth of America everywhere. There are those who will try to silence her at all costs, along with her probing questions. Will Ann be able to reveal the corruption inside the XCAS? Or will someone get to her first? All is revealed in William Sleator’s invigorating assessment of truth, Test!

The action, suspense, and unforeseen surprises all came together in this intense novel. Ann is a determined teen who has big plans for the future. A wonderfully written book, told from multiple perspectives, Test is one not to miss out on. I suggest this book for teens fourteen and up, as it suggests topics more suitable for older readers that younger teens might not understand. I can’t wait to read some of William Sleator’s numerous other novels, such as The Last Universe and The Boy Who Couldn’t Die.

I enjoyed how believable the story of Test was. For teenagers in high school today, the SAT’s are a big test for them, and standardized tests start in elementary school and continue all the way into high school. So, to me, this made Test an even more believable story.

I appreciated the fact that the main character, Ann, was a very ambitious person and wasn’t afraid to go sniff out the big shots behind all of the threats. In doing so, she made a bigger impact than she ever thought possible. Lep, Ann’s friend and classmate, is also a very fun accomplice, and he made the story so much more meaningful. In the end, Ann wasn’t just doing this for the students who had to take the XCAS test, but to change the lives of people like Lep. To give them more than just one chance.

The multiple perspectives in which Test is told also added to the story greatly. I was able to see what, for example, Mr. Warren’s daughter, Elise, thought of Ann’s actions. Elise wasn’t thinking of her father’s company being in jeopardy, but instead of how much trouble she might get in because of Ann. I also took pleasure in seeing how the rich lived in this version of the future, and how much it differed from the way in which the majority of the population, such as Ann, or even Lep, lived.

I felt like the story moved along quite quickly at times. The fast-pacing helped present that sense of urgency and action, but I would have liked to see the storyline slow down at times. That way, more detail could have been added to the story, or I could have gotten to know the various characters even better. However, I am glad that this is a standalone novel, because I feel that if it had been made into a series, it would have felt drawn out.

On the whole, Test is an action-packed discovery of truth and what really matters in life. Join Ann, as she struggles to break free of the system and bring the whole thing crashing down in, Test!

-This is T.B. with Another Book Back on the Shelf…
Until Next Time, Keep Reading!

Test is available from Amazon here.


  1. This sounds like a good pick for my library kids. They'll like that it's fast paced and a stand alone. I agree with you, I think given their own experiences with their upcoming SATs that they'll connect with this story well. Thanks for the rec!

  2. I hope they enjoy it! I feel that many teens can relate to this book, as it really mirrors what they are going through. Oh, and I was quite happy that Test was a stand-alone novel. It seems that there are always trilogies and series these days.


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