This is Not a Test
by Courtney Summers
PUB:June 19th 2012
by St. Martin's Griffin
REVIEW COPY: personal ebook
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?
This is not a Test starts off with a bang and just keeps going. Sloane Price is just sitting down to breakfast with a father who we figure out pretty quickly is not a good man, when there is a commotion at the front door. Things spiral down VERY quickly as a woman who had moments before been begging for help at the front door breaks through the living room window, blood dripping everywhere and attacks Sloane and her father. So yeah, it's pretty wild.
Cut to a week later and we meet back up with Sloane and a small group of survivors as they attempt to secure the high school and hole up in there as the world around them continues to crumble and zombies have taken control of the streets.
This is Not a Test is a zombie apocalypse story that blends the horrors of zombies with the drama of a group of people trapped together who have little in common and don’t always like each other. Feelings are complicated and Sloane doesn’t want to feel.
Sloane was already emotionally damaged and feeling hopeless before the world ended and a lot of This is Not a Test is Sloane dealing with what she wants in this new existence. She wanted to die and now, she still wants to die but doesn’t want to risk the lives of those around her to do it. She sees how hard everyone else is fighting to stay alive and she can’t find that will to fight, to live, inside herself.
The bulk of the story takes place inside the school and revolves around the relationships between the characters that are trapped with Sloane in the school. I found the tension between the characters really compelling. There was so much stress and, in one case, hatred, that there was always underlying worry what these characters would do to each other and if they would end up destroying each other before the zombies had the chance. While the zombies remain a continuous overarching risk to the characters, it is what goes on between them that has some of the most impact on the story.
I don’t want to say anything about the last third of the book because the tension about what could happen next and the heart-pounding action of that last third of the book are something best experienced without any spoiling.
Suffice to say, this is a book with a great story and a huge twist at the end. Courtney Summers blew me away with how real the characters felt. I could believe all the different personalities and understand them. I felt for Sloane and I loved seeing her find herself as the book progressed. She starts to figure out who she wants to be and how she wants to deal with this new world. I liked watching her go from a shattered girl who simply did what the others wanted to someone who had an opinion about what she wanted to do for herself.
This is a must read for anyone who loves zombies or books dealing with the end of the world.