It's coming to you late (once again, sorry!) but here is the first discussion post for THIS IS NOT A TEST by Courtney Summers!
****WARNING: Spoilers for pages 1 - 84 of THIS IS NOT A TEST****
Oh man, guys. It took me a lot of effort to put down this book. I may have read it before, but THIS IS NOT A TEST just gets right into my heart and doesn't let go. I feel so completely invested in the characters in this book that it's hard to walk away. They're just so real to me, and really make this story phenomenal.
THIS IS NOT A TEST starts off with a suicide note. A horrible, heartbreaking note carried through the first chapter that rips you apart with each new line. As does Sloane, the writer for said note and the victim of abuse. It doesn't take long for you to see the effects suffered by Sloane and her grief over her sister's abandonment. It also doesn't take long until the zombies come busting down her door. We get just enough of both in this short first chapter. Enough to understand Sloane and enough to set the terrifying atmosphere. How did you guys like the beginning?
I think one of the most interesting things about THIS IS NOT A TEST is that it goes against many conventions of a zombie novel while still retaining the inherent spookiness. A staple in zombie books is a narrator that is desperate to survive. In this case, Sloane doesn't care if she lives or dies. Before the apocalypse even happens, she had decided to end her life and once it does, it just makes her more resigned. She's a different characters from what we're used to seeing, and one that breaks your heart. What did you guys think of Sloane?
Now, we get to meet our cast of characters. Cary, the survivor and unintentional leader. Trace and Grace, twins, one angry and one gentle. Harrison, the youngest and most scared. And Rhys, mysterious yet caring. The thing about them, though, is that they don't have a "set role." They're people. They evolve throughout the story so that even their most basic roles don't fit them. And I love that because it makes them real. How do you like the characters so far?
All the characters are suffering from heartbreak and loss, most recently the loss of Trace & Grace's parents. And Cary's possible role in their deaths. Trace blames him, and Grace a bit too. They're both grieving and don't know how to handle it. I feel so awful for Cary though who has to endure this onslaught of anger over and over. He's just a kid. They're all just kids. Kids in a world where you can't be anymore. We see each of them handle their fear and loss a different way in these first few chapters. And we see Sloane still not find any reason to keep going.
I distinctly remember the first time I read THIS IS NOT A TEST. I had been absorbed all day with this book, and ended up reading well into the night. Every time a I would read a thump in the book I would look up and check the door because it was so real. I honestly could hear the thumping in my mind and was getting more and more petrified as the story went on. And, the thing is, I can count on one hand the times we see a zombie in the book. Courtney Summers just creates such a vivid atmosphere that we don't even need to see the monsters to be afraid of them. There's a thumping that begins in this first section that becomes the backtrack of this story. There is that constant fear of the death waiting just outside their door. Did you guys feel as scared as I did (as I still do reading it a second time)?
What did you guys think of the beginning of THIS IS NOT A TEST? Let me know in the comments!
- Ciara (Lost at Midnight)