Title: This Is Not A Test
Author: Courtney Summers
Pub Date: June 19, 2012
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
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? [Goodreads]
Wow… wow. This was one of my most anticipated books of 2012, and it was so worth it. I honestly had a hard time describing my feelings after reading This is Not a Test – hell, I still kind of do. This book was such an intense, emotional read from the very beginning. While I read it, I kept thinking how it was like a seriously effed up twist of The Breakfast Club – I loved it!
The story takes place right at the beginning of a zombie apocalypse, but there’s not a lot of zombie face time (probably a good thing since they’d eat your face). There were scenes, of course, with zombies, but the majority of it takes place inside the school with the six teenagers. Believe me, though, this book was more intense than some of the other zombie filled books I’ve read. The emotions run high in TINAT – anxiety, anger, fear, sadness, and … ahem… hormones. Really though, this book is very much about the characters surviving not just a zombie apocalypse, but also each other and even their own demons. Don’t expect too much details about the zombies, like what caused the infection or anything. This is about the survivors, not the zombies.
The story is told from Sloane’s point of view. She had a very abusive upbringing, and the only person she trusted was her older sister. Some of the memories Sloane had were hard to stomach, but they were so real. Here’s the thing, I can’t stand whiny self-loathing characters, and Sloane wasn’t that, except she kind of was. Make sense? Yes, Sloane is somewhat like the type of characters I don’t like, but it was so different because it was like I could actually feel her pain. I don’t know… the author just did a fantastic job at showing instead of telling – it was like going to a concert verses listening to the radio. Yes, Sloane is depressed, but she’s survivor and a fighter, whether she believes so or not.
There were five other teenagers, besides Sloane, hiding in the school: Grace, Trace, Cary, Harrison, and Rhys. Imagine going through your high school yearbook, closing your eyes, and randomly picking five people to survive a zombie apocalypse with – they’re people you know of, but don’t really know. That’s basically how this group was, except Grace and Trace are twins. The dynamic of the group was interesting, and it a major part of the story.
Like I said, this book is intense. I absolutely recommend This Is Not A Test, even if you’re not really into zombie books. As of now, the book is a standalone. I think Summers could easily write a sequel, but it almost doesn’t feel right to do so. But if she did, I’d be all over it! Honestly, I don’t like rereading books, but I actually do want to reread this one!