Title: This is Not a Test
Author: Courtney Summers
Genre: YA Post-Apocalyptic
Publication Date: June 19, 2012
Format: Paperback, 336 Pages
ISBN-10: 0312656742 (St. Martin’s Griffin)
ISBN-13: 978-0312656744 (St. Martin’s Griffin)
Reviewed by: Kayla
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?
Quick and Dirty: Six students are trapped inside a high school while zombies control the outside. This is not a zombie book. Think a more mature Lord of the Flies.
Opening Sentence: Lily, I woke up and the last piece of my heart disappeared.
Okay, let me get this out of the way: this is not a zombie book. There are no gross or gut-spilling scenes. The setting just happens to be in a zombie-filled area. This a story of survival — of the reasons to hold on when there is nothing to hold on to. Six students are holed up in a high school, waiting to be rescued from a town overrun by their old neighbors, friends, and family. But the real danger isn’t what’s outside. The swirling emotions on the inside are ticking like a bomb about to go off. Each person has their own baggage they carried into that school, but just because they bonded through surviving together doesn’t mean you trust them with your life story. Does it? Sloane Price is ready to die — she embraces it. But there are others with her who don’t want to die. So should she risk their safety so she can escape the awful world she still grudgingly lives in? This is a story of priorities — of what you do when the world is ending and nothing matters. But when nothing matters, why stay?
So this is a very depressing book. If you’re looking for a gory, adventurous book full of romance and zombies, this is NOT your book. If you’ve ever read Lord of the Flies, this is exactly like that only with teenagers in a modern high school. There are no light-hearted moments or a happy ending. In fact, there is no happy. Period!
Sloane Price is a very modern character that suffers from a bad home life, lost sister, and overall terrible life. She is thrown into a world of surviving when she doesn’t want to. Sloane isn’t the average heroine. She isn’t strong-willed, determined, or ready to fight to stay alive. She’s still mourning her sister that left home a few weeks before. So, in general, she’s not really a hero. She’s in need of saving, and by the end of the book she’s close to coming to terms with herself (so it isn’t a totally depressing book).
The raw emotion conveyed in this book is utterly exhausting. The writing is beautiful and it’s amazing how Summers can put the reader in the character’s heads and experience what they’re experiencing. Her voice is perfect for the voice of Sloane — it has a sense of foreboding, but with a hint of hope in the mix.
It’s amazing what a bit of hope can do to people. Summers shows the many reactions to hope in this book, which makes this book even more deep and serious. WARNING: there is a lot of cussing in this book and it does get a tad graphic. I wouldn’t recommend this book due to what I believe, but that doesn’t make this a bad book. The writing is great; plot complex and characters intense. If you like Lord of the Flies, you’ll like this survival story.
The thing no one tells you about surviving, about the mere act of holding out, is how many hours are nothing because nothing happens. They also don’t tell you about how you can share your deepest secrets with someone, kiss them, and the next hour it’s like there’s nothing between you because not everything can mean something all the time or you’d be crushed under the weight of it. They don’t tell you how you will float through days. You autopilot, here but not really here, sleepwalking, and then every so often you are awake.
The next moment that matters turns out to be this one:
“Do you need anything?”
FTC Advisory: St. Martin’s Griffin provided me with a copy of This is Not a Test. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.