Title: This Is Not a Test
Author: Courtney Summers
Publishers: St. Martin's Press
Release Date: June 19th, 2012
My Rating: 5/5
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?(Summary from Goodreads)
An hour and a half bus ride and over a year of waiting and finally I had This Is Not a Test in my hands. It was worth every second of anticipation.
I have been a Courtney Summers fan since my friend Crim convinced me to read Cracked Up To Be over two years ago. Her writing style is unique, and captivating, and her stories are impossible to ignore. When I found out that This Is Not a Test would be a zombie novel, I was kind of petrified. Courtney Summers doesn’t write happy books. She writes honest, in-your-face novels that attack issues lots of people tend to shy away from. Combine that with a zombie novel (which NEVER end well) and you have an emotionally trying novel. And it was. But I loved every word, every page, and every heartbreaking second.
I knew from the first page that I was invested in this novel. Summers demands control of your emotions. She doesn’t let you just peek into the story, she pulls you in and makes you a part of it. Every decision the characters make weighs heavily on your conscience, every pound on the door reverberates inside your head, and every painful thought punctures a hole in your heart. This wasn’t just a zombie story. It was a story of family, abuse, and survival.
Sloane Price was a stunning character, in the very literal sense. I was shocked by her back-story, and utterly paralyzed by her lack of will to live. In a typical “zombie” book, all the characters are clamoring to survive, but Sloane had already convinced herself there was no point long before the apocalypse. It was hard not to get swept up and dragged down by her pain, all the while hoping she would find something to save her. It’s hard to really put into words my feelings on Sloane. I think you have to read the novel and enter her mind to understand this intricate character.
The other characters in the novel each had their own story and impact on the novel. These weren’t just cardboard characters, but instead intriguing and complex. I adored Rhys and his fierce will, Grace and her kindness and Cary and his bravery. I wanted to comfort Harrison, and although I wanted to slap Trace more than anything, his loyalty was unmatched. But, these characters weren’t perfect. They weren’t just kind and loyal and brave, they were also cruel and secretive and broken. This story truly wasn’t about zombies, but about the six people trapped in that school, trapped in their pain, and their blurred lines between life and death.
Although the zombie element was not a very big part of the book, I was terrified by it. I was so wrapped up in the story that any bump or creek in my own house had me jumping up expecting a ravenous horde of undead at my window. My heart was racing in fear and anticipation during the whole story.
The last thing I want to mention is the cover. I think it’s absolutely perfect. I adore the coloring, the blood spatter, and the girl on the cover. It captures the atmosphere of the novel perfectly.
This Is Not a Test is going to be one of those books I read again and again. It’s a book everyone should read. Because it is honestly amazing. Simply, utterly, and completely amazing. I can go into detail about the characters, and plot, etc. but it all boils down to that. It’s amazing. This is a book no one can miss, and it is, without a doubt, my favourite book I’ve read this year. Courtney Summers has outdone herself. Her talent has reached an entirely new level.
- Ciara who is lost at midnight