This is Not a Test
By: Courtney Summers
Published: June 19th 2012 by St. Martin's Griffin
Genre: YA, Post-Apocalyptic
Source: Won in an Armchair BEA giveaway from Andi's ABCs
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Goodreads description--It’s the end of the world. Six students have taken cover in Cortege High but shelter is little comfort when the dead outside won’t stop pounding on the doors. One bite is all it takes to kill a person and bring them back as a monstrous version of their former self. To Sloane Price, that doesn’t sound so bad. Six months ago, her world collapsed and since then, she’s failed to find a reason to keep going. Now seems like the perfect time to give up. As Sloane eagerly waits for the barricades to fall, she’s forced to witness the apocalypse through the eyes of five people who actually want to live. But as the days crawl by, the motivations for survival change in startling ways and soon the group’s fate is determined less and less by what’s happening outside and more and more by the unpredictable and violent bids for life—and death—inside. When everything is gone, what do you hold on to?
Wow! Guys, I loved This is Not a Test. I'm honestly not even sure where to begin. Courtney Summers has some major writing talent and while I don't think her other work is zombie related, I've seen enough to prompt me into reading more of her writing.
This is Not a Test is told from the POV of a girl during the zombie apocalypse who doesn't really want to live. And while throughout the zombie books I've read there always seems to be a character that just can't hack the way the world has gone to pot and said character decides to off themselves, but that's not how things go down with Sloane. Sloane had pretty much given up BEFORE the world goes nuts. Thus the contrast of seeing the zombie apocalypse from the point of view of someone who isn't trying to survive. It was different, and I love different.
Of course, I'm not condoning suicide at all, and Sloane is prevented from letting the zombies or herself take her life time and time again by conscience and a variety of other things. It's was so refreshing to watch Sloane find reasons to live rather than the other way around. I think in a lot of zombie books the character becomes so beat down with the way their new world is and seeing friend after friend die that they lose hope by the end, but this was the exact opposite of This is Not a Test and I loved it for that.
I did struggle with Sloane a little bit in the beginning because of how she wanted to give up and just give in, but I still felt extremely connected to her as a character. I LOVED Rhys. He latches on to Sloane pretty early on and I love how he slowly showed her what it is to open her heart back up. The other characters were pretty easy to get attached to as well, Cary, Grace, and even Harrison. The only character I had a hard time liking was Trace.
This is Not a Test is a story about finding hope, finding a reason to live when there might seem like there are no more reasons. It's about seeing how far you're willing to go to survive, who you can trust, and who can trust you when the worst comes to worst. We didn't see much interaction with the actual zombies throughout the book--really just the beginning and the end. But I didn't mind because there were so many dynamics going on within this group of characters.
As I said before, Courtney Summers has some mad writing skills. She reminds me a little of Maggie Stiefvater in that her writing comes off as truly poetic at time. I'm not quite sure it's as lyrical as Maggie S, but here are some examples:
pg 9 - He stares at her body and sits there, drenched in someone else's life, and he looks so calm, like he knew this was coming, like the way this morning started it was only ever going to end up like this.
Pg 22 - Harrison starts to cry. he stands in the middle of the room and holds himself because no one else will and it's the loneliest thing I've ever seen.
pg 89 - It must be awful to find out your life is worth nothing to someone else. I want to tell Cary he's not worthless. Harrison probably needs him. (Ok this one had me busting out laughing...Oh Sloane....)
Pg 263 - Each step forward is a slow and hateful thing.
Like I said, poetic. This is Not a Test exceeded so many expectations for me. 4.5 Stars. Have you read This is Not a Test? If so, what did you think? Let me know!
This review is part of my "All Things Halloween" October review event.