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This Is Not a Test

This Is Not a Test

4.2 75
by Courtney Summers

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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


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?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
It’s The Breakfast Club, George Romero style, as six teens who barely know or like each other seek refuge in their high school while the undead hordes lurk outside. This isn’t as much of a departure from Summers’s edgy contemporary novels like Fall for Anything and Some Girls Are as one might think—it’s as much a character study as it is a “zombie novel.” The end of the world unfolds through the eyes of high school junior Sloane Price, who has been contemplating suicide since her older sister ran away six months earlier, leaving Sloane with their physically abusive father. But these worries are pushed aside as Sloane tries to keep her fellow students alive. The fragile dynamic is disrupted by the arrival of another survivor, a teacher, and a news report about survivor camps. The interpersonal dynamics and growing tension take precedence over any explanations regarding the zombies—Summers is more interested in what it’s like to be a girl who doesn’t want to live, stuck in a world where death isn’t what it used to be. Ages 12–up. Agent: Amy Tipton, Signature Literary Agency. (June)
From the Publisher

This Is Not a Test is both sexy and desolate, and it will blast a hole through your heart, yet somehow start to stitch it back together again” —Daisy Whitney, author of The Mockingbirds and The Rivals

“Courtney Summers is a ferocious talent in YA fiction. This Is Not a Test brought me to tears, caused me to gasp in shock in public places, and almost put a stop to my heart . . . Summers' voice is raw with emotion, and utterly right for the impending zombie apocalypse.” —Nova Ren Suma, author of Imaginary Girls

“[Courtney Summers] blends all the perfection and simplicity that defines her writing so well with this added paranormal element for a snappy, exciting story I just couldn't stop reading, and then I got to the very end and realized that it was about so much more than just making it out alive.” —Julie Cross, author of Tempest

“Intriguing.... It takes some artistic guts to set a portrayal of a suicidal teenager amid attacking zombies, but Summers has a history of risky choices.... Unusual and absorbing.” —Kirkus

VOYA - Laura Panter
Sixteen survivors become trapped inside their local high school when a deadly infection turns everyone in Cortege into flesh-eating zombies. One bite from an infected means a death sentence and resurrection to life as a monster. To Sloane Price, hiding out means no beatings from her father, but leaving the shelter of the school also means fulfilling her desire to give up on life since her sister's betrayal. Sloane contemplates how easy it would be to die until she realizes that she cannot let her actions jeopardize those who want to live. As emotions run high and the threat of detection seems inevitable, the survivors realize that their only hope of living means leaving their safe haven and venturing out into the ravaged city. What they find will make survival seem hopeless, as one by one the number of survivors dwindles. Summers's novel begins in a muddle of confusion. Several story lines crash together with a convoluted narrative of how the teens end up inside the school. Their original dash to safety is vague, while new obstacles sidelining the survivors are horrific. Characters do not evoke feelings from the reader until half-way through the book. Several plot developments stretch believability but may be overlooked by readers focused purely on the grisly deaths. The open-ended conclusion leaves the story open for a sequel, but will readers care? Those who love zombie stories will find much better fare in such books as Charlie Higson's The Enemy. This is an additional purchase for teens who love horror and zombies no matter the flaws. Reviewer: Laura Panter
Kirkus Reviews
A girl wants to commit suicide, but she's caught in the zombie apocalypse with a group that's trying to survive in this intriguing psychological thriller. It takes some artistic guts to set a portrayal of a suicidal teenager amid attacking zombies, but Summers has a history of risky choices (Fall for Anything, 2010, etc.). Sloane was left trapped in her severely abusive home when her older sister, Lily, escaped. When the zombies attack, Sloane joins a group of her fellow students who take refuge in their high school, a building built almost like a prison. They barricade the doors and live off food from the cafeteria and water stored on the roof. Yet, although the zombie threat keeps tension high, Summers' focus remains on Sloane and the group of teens hiding in the school. The teen suffers from the betrayal she feels from Lily, while the others jockey for dominance and squabble over perceived ills done to them by others in the group. As events proceed, the teens make real decisions about life and death, while Sloane looks toward a possible reunion with Lily. Readers never learn why zombies attacked; they are kept in the moment by Sloane's first-person, present-tense account. The focus stays on the personalities and on Sloane's struggle with her emotions and her own decision to live or to die. Unusual and absorbing. (Paranormal suspense. 12 & up)
School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up—Sloane Price has been raised by an abusive father, and her life is a living nightmare. Her only silver lining is her older sister, her protector and her main source of strength. But Lily runs away, abandoning Sloane and leaving her to deal with the consequences. The past six months of torment have left the teen a shell of her former self and destroyed her will to live. When the zombie apocalypse strikes, she flees one life of horror in exchange for another. Rescued by a group of teenagers, Sloane and company painstakingly make their way across town, finding refuge inside Cortege High School. Huddled behind barricades, the group tries to make sense of the madness outside while grieving for their loved ones-all while hearing the constant thump, thump of the zombies at the doors. This Is Not a Test is a riveting and powerful novel that unfolds through the brutal first-person narrative of Sloane, a broken teen who in many ways is already dead. As the story evolves, the relationships among the characters intensify as they are pushed to the brink of humanity. Summers's brilliant writing has readers confronting their own fears while witnessing what happens to good people when forced to make ruthless decisions in a senseless world. This fascinating and haunting story with sophisticated content and themes will stay with readers long after they finish the last page.—Donna Rosenblum, Floral Park Memorial High School, NY

Product Details

St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.90(d)
HL610L (what's this?)
Age Range:
13 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

This Is Not a Test

By Courtney Summers

St. Martin's Griffin

Copyright © 2012 Courtney Summers
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780312656744

“Get the door! Get the tables against the fucking door, Trace—move!”
In a perfect world, I’m spinning out. I’m seven days ago, sleeping myself into nothingness. Every breath in and out is shallower than the last until, eventually, I stop. In a perfect world, I’m over. I’m dead. But in this world, Lily took the pills with her and I’m still alive. I’m climbing onstage before Cary notices and gives me something to do even though I should be doing something. I should help. I should be helping because seconds are critical. He said this over and over while we ran down streets, through alleys, watched the community center fall, hid out in empty houses and he was right—seconds are critical.
You can lose everything in seconds.
“Harrison, Grace, take the front! Rhys, I need you in the halls with me—”
I slip past the curtain. I smell death. It’s all over me but it’s not me, not yet. I am not dead yet. I run my hands over my body, feeling for something that doesn’t belong. We were one street away and they came in at all sides with their arms out, their hands reaching for me with the kind of sharp-teethed hunger that makes a person—them. Cary pulled me away before I could have it, but I thought—I thought I felt something, maybe—
“Sloane? Where’s Sloane?”
I can’t reach far enough behind my back.
“Rhys, the halls—”
“Where is she?”
“We have to get in the halls now!”
“Sloane? Sloane!
I look up. Boxy forms loom overhead, weird and ominous. Stage lights. And I don’t know why but I dig my cell phone out of my pocket and I dial Lily. If this is it, I want her to know. I want her to hear it. Except her number doesn’t work anymore, hasn’t worked since she left, and I don’t know how I forgot that. I can’t believe I forgot that. Instead of Lily, that woman’s voice is in my ear: Listen closely. She sounds familiar, like someone’s mother. Not my mother. I was young when she died. Lily was older. Car accident …
“Sloane!” Rhys pushes the curtain back and spots me. I drop the phone. It clatters to the floor. “What the hell are you doing? We’ve got to move—” He takes in the look on my face and his turns to ash. “Are you bit? Did you get bitten?”
“I don’t know—” I unbutton my shirt and pull it off and I know he sees all of me before I can turn away, but I don’t care. I have to know. “I can’t see anything—I can’t feel it—”
Rhys runs his hands over my back, searching for telltale marks. He murmurs prayers under his breath while I hold mine.
“It’s okay—you’re good—you’re fine—you’re alive—”
The noises in the auditorium get louder with the frantic scrambling of people who actually want to live, but I’m still.
I’m good, I’m fine.
“Are you sure?”
“I’m sure—now come on—come on, we have to—”
Good, fine. I’m fine. I’m fine, I’m fine. He grabs my arm. I shrug him off and put my shirt back on more slowly than I should. I am fine. I’m alive.
I don’t even know what that means.
“Look, we’ve got to get back out there,” he says as I do up my buttons. “There are three other doors that need to be secured—” He grabs my arm and turns me around. “Look at me—are you ready? Sloane, are you ready?”
I open my mouth but nothing comes out.

Copyright © 2012 by Courtney Summers


Excerpted from This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers Copyright © 2012 by Courtney Summers. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.


Meet the Author

Courtney Summers is the author of young adult novels including Fall for Anything, Some Girls Are, and Cracked Up to Be. She lives and writes in Canada, where she divides her time between a piano, a camera, and a word-processing program when she's not planning for the impending zombie apocalypse.

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This Is Not a Test 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 75 reviews.
FictionalCandy More than 1 year ago
This is definitely one of my favorite books of the year! Seriously, it was superb. It was terrifying and raw, and as far as I am concerned, a definite foreshadow of the future. It is not a question of “if”, but rather “when”. This first chapter had such an eerie quietness; it was almost like the silence was a character in the book. Do you know what I mean? Like it was thick with silence. Then there is chaos at the front door. Pandemonium outside. Confusion and blood. Her dad is in a fight with a woman who is clearly deranged. Isn’t she? There are six teenagers and they’ve made their way to the high school. Rhys, Cary, Trace & Grace (twins), Harrison and of course, Sloane. Somehow, someway they’ve made it past the hordes of infected “people” and they’ve barricaded themselves in the high school. Pretty darn smart if you ask me. You’ve got food, water, entertainment, every facility you could just about hope for. Except Sloane doesn’t want to really survive. She’s been a survivor her whole life, and so much has happened in a short amount of time that her will is just sort of short circuited. You really feel for her. This is a first person point of view, which doesn’t always agree well with me. But in this story it fits the whole urgent-but-waiting theme perfectly. There are a few action scenes, but this book is not battle after battle with the undead. It’s more psychological than that. There are some battles, but it’s not really about the infected, it’s about the survivors. Part two of this book explores a lot of group mentality issues and how you deal with the zombie apocalypse (my words, not the author’s) as an individual and as a group. It is so interesting how quickly the author immerses you into this story, that you find yourself yelling at the pages. “Don’t go there!!” and “Turn around!!!!” If you find a survivor who isn’t a part of your original core group, well, they are not really a survivor at all then, are they? You can’t trust them, can you? Do you take them in and embrace the addition of another living breathing person, or do you toss them out and make them fend for themselves because you just don’t really know their intentions, do you? Part three will shake the foundation of everything you’ve come to believe about this story. It is a game changer, and dynamics definitely shift. It’s hard to know what is real and what is not when everything in your life for weeks now seems like something out of someone’s imagination and not the real thing. Courtney Summers does such a perfect job at illustrating the characters with her words, and not just the glamorous good stuff. We get to see all sides of this group. We see how they break down and how they build up, how they handle living now that everything they know has been chewed to pieces. And Part four, well, part four I’d call hope. Hope to die, hope to live, who the hell knows what you are hoping for. For every person it is different. Personally I was hoping it would never end, the book that is. Put this book on your to-be-read this. Follow it. It’s not just a zombie story; it’s a look at what happens when all hell breaks loose.
PrettyInFiction More than 1 year ago
THIS IS NOT A TEST is the story of a girl during a breakout of a zombie apocalypse. Most zombie books are about survivors of a zombie apocalypse, not the very beginning of one. Sloane doesn't know what's going on. She's not clued in to the fact that those are zombies running around outside her house. She's a poor, abused soul who doesn't understand that the world she so desperately wants out of is ending. In this day of mega zombie movies, video games, and The Walking Dead, it's unusual to see a take on zombies where the characters aren't hip on the zombie phenomenon. It was refreshing to see how realistically Summers approached such a campy topic. It's not so much a zombie story, as it is a story about people who are trying to survive something horrible. The zombies were scary, yes, but the people were scarier. Everyone, everyone, did horrible things in order to survive. The book was so full of despair and desperation, that it was almost addicting. It hooked me in a way that I've never been hooked before. I can honestly say that I did not enjoy reading it. It was horrible and depressing and your worst nightmare written down. But it's beautiful because of how horrible it is. And it will drag you in until you just can't look away. You have to finish it, even if it terrifies you. So I didn't enjoy reading it, but I had to read it. I couldn't not. It was too good. The detail that Summers uses in her writing brings out the true horror of Sloane's situation. This is definitely not a book for the faint of heart. There is gore, adult content, violence and adult language, so if that offends you this might not be the book for you. There are a few sexual situations, nothing very graphic, but still. If you're uncomfortable with subjects like sex, depression, suicide and death, than like I said, this one is probably not for you. The first word I thought when I finished the book was, "wow". THIS IS NOT A TEST is one of those books where you don't know how it could possibly ever end on a happy note, or even on a good note. And it doesn't. The government doesn't come and save everyone, the zombies don't go away. Sloane doesn't wake up and it was all a horrible nightmare. It's hell, and she's living it, and your living it with her. But in the end, somehow, someway, Courtney Summers manages to give you a little bit of hope when the world she's created is so hopeless. This is definitely Summers at her best.
catagator More than 1 year ago
Courtney Summers delivers a unique take on zombies in her genre-bending book. Sloane's home life sucks with her abusive father. Sloane had her sister Lily to turn to, to love her, to support her, and to suffer with. They made a plan to escape their house together when Sloane turned 18. Except Lily breaks the promise, leaving Sloane to fend for herself. The abuse is so much that Sloane has no reason to have hope anymore. In the initial scenes of the book, it's evident how brutal her life has been, and she immediately garners sympathy. Even though what she wants to do isn't necessarily sympathetic, it's understandable. And when the zombies arrive, Sloane is elated; it's her chance to die. Then we're tossed into Cortege High School, where Sloane and five fellow students have barricaded themselves. It's frantic and desperate, at least to those five; Sloane is annoyed. Her plans were ruined, and now that she's been dragged to safety, she's even more frustrated. The thing is, she can't seem to find a way away from these people who want to live, and even when she has the chance to end her own suffering, she doesn't. Sloane is one of the most interesting characters I've read, but she's very challenging. She is obedient in every sense of the word. Because of her father, there's a sense of reluctance in her. She allows herself to be dragged to safety (where it would be easy for her to not), and she doesn't actively seek out her options for dying when she has the chance. Rather, she continues to follow what she believes is the right thing to do. To stay alive. Anything she could feel for herself has been taken away, physically and emotionally. That's part of why she's unable to actually go through with ending her life. Amid all of this, Sloane is likable; there's just enough hope inside her and just enough desire to move forward to make readers pull for her and believe she can survive. This is a powerful character-driven novel. Despite the zombie apocalypse occurring, what matters is not the undead coming alive but the living coming alive. Secondary characters are fully developed, and they each serve distinct purposes for Sloane. Summers excels in her use of subtlety to develop the characters. There are single lines or short scenes so raw they sting, and they speak volumes to who Sloane really is (who she is, not who she's told she is or who she has come to believe she is). The pacing in the book is deliberately slow, begging the reader to pay attention to these things. The story doesn't drag, though. Summers delivers on strong writing that doesn't try too hard and works to advance these characters. This is an extremely physical book. Each blow can be felt, as can each of the more tender moments. The book doesn't shy away from brutality nor from being gruesome; despite being heavily vested in reality, it's still a novel about the zombie apocalypse. I felt beat up and bruised reading this; fortunately, I had the same moments of hope and promise Sloane did throughout. There's a definite conclusion to come away with at the end of the book, and the way it's done is savvy. Sloane has to make a series of very difficult choices that force her to confront everything she's been so eager to shy away from. She'll revisit everything with Lily and her father and come to realize her body and her choices and her life are hers. So while this is a story of survival, it's also a story about what we fight for, and why we fight for things at all.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love it!!!
Drewano More than 1 year ago
This book was a little too young adult for me. The book really played on the tensions and interactions of the teen group during the zombie apocalypse rather than the actual apocalypse itself. As a result I didn’t really connect or like the characters, although the author does do a good job of making you feel sorry for/know where, Sloan, the main character is coming from. It was an interesting but didn’t have the normal action you would see in a normal zombie book.
Anonymous 18 hours ago
Seriously read it in a day. Couldn't put it down! Recommended it to my 18 year old daughter, who doesn't usually enjoy reading, and she devoured it in about a day and a half!
Anonymous 11 months ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
terferj More than 1 year ago
I didn't really care for this book. This was probably the shortest book I read this year (only 150 pages on my Nook) but it took me forever to read. I was hoping for a little more especially when it came to zombies but there was not really that much of them in this book. I think that’s why I'm somewhat thrown off of liking this, I was expecting one thing but got another. The book mainly took place in their safe haven. Which was fine but it made the book boring to me (I’m sorry *hides face*). It was a lot of the same repetitions - eating, the same person crying, people being in the nurse’s office, occasionally hook ups, and fighting between two of them. I like that Sloane was surviving in more ways than one but I don't know, I just wasn't as into it as I hoped. I don't know if it’s just me but I felt the sibling relationships were a little weird. Sloan’s obsession with her sister was a little much for me. Some relationships can be like that but not my sister’s and I’s, so I guess it was a little off putting to me. I was hoping when I started, I would read both books in the series but alas I'm afraid that the next book would be more of the same. So I will not pick it up unless I really wanted to find out what happened. Such a shame since it does sound interesting.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is Not a Test is another twist on the zombie apocalypse genre with the focus more on the interactions between a group a teen survivors holed up in their school. Quick, good summer read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It's great. You get attached to characters whether you like them or not, because you kind of understand it. It seems realistic for what a group of teens would do during a zombie situation
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
That was just briliant. I was very sad when the book ended because I didnt want it to stop.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've read quite a bit of zombie related books over the years and nothing comes close to this book. It's a must read and you won't regret it. I'm so excited that the author decided to make a sequel so I have an excuse to re-read it for the hundreth time....
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book cause it was just awlsome........... i will reread it over and over again
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
twimom101 More than 1 year ago
I really wanted to read This is Not a Test, like really bad. I mean if you know me any bit at all...you know I love zombies. I love the books, the shows, I even just love scouring over Pinterest looking for stuff on zombies. So when I saw This is Not a Test I knew I had to read it. I even slipped it in earlier than scheduled. The cover screams at the readers...READ ME! It's gorgeous! But it's what I found between the covers that got me. And not in a good way. Let me explain before the masses come and try to spear me like one of the living dead in the story. I just could not connect with Sloane, the girl whose Point of View we get throughout the book. The girl is depressed the entire time. I am talking the entire freakin time. And it brought me down with her. I get that she was abused by her dad, and I guess I am just insensitive towards her, but the girl didn't try to get better. Usually I quit reading stories once I don't connect with the characters. But I couldn't. I had to know what happened to all the kids. Did they make it out of the school alive? Were they infected? Did help find them? And so here I am continuing on...reading the story...and it's just not any better. I wasn’t crazy about Summers’ writing at all. And found it sometimes jumbled. There are several sentences I had to reread due to lack of understanding. Not understanding on my part, but with what the author was trying to portray. I hate that. If I have to reread a sentence it takes away from the story for me. I get that a lot of people loved it and have seen reviews of others raving about the ending. But me? Yeah I was not impressed. I think I was even more confused when I got to the ending. When I read a zombie book…I want a zombie book. This was all about Sloane finding herself and deciding on if she really wants to die or not. And to me, quite frankly…I was bored. Hope you will give it a try and see if it is for you. Unfortunately it was just not for me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not worth the buy. As a fan of the zombie genre, it was hard for me at times to pick the book back up after having put it down. The story is solid; apocalypse comes, kids take refuge in a school. The logic is there, and the dynamics for the characters are made very clear, but the likability isn't. It seemed like more often than not that I didn't feel the sympathy for the main character that was needed for her to be likable, nor the connection with the other survivors. The characters as a whole seemed flat, and were often focused around one central idea, nothing more. The ending of the novel all seemed rushed. There were a lot of details that went by very quickly that I had to go back and read more than once to fully get the idea. An attempt to seem fast-paced ended up coming off hurried.  The idea behind the story was good. Bits and pieces were cleverly-written and well-thought-out. In all, though, it seemed poorly executed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the best book but the bad thing about it is that it ends withouht telling if they make it or not I really want to know :(
Books4Tomorrow More than 1 year ago
Before you go: “ugh, not ANOTHER zombie novel!”, just hear me out. I’ll admit that I’m also tired of zombie-themed books. If you’ve read five zombie books, you’ve pretty much read them all (or at least, that’s how I feel). What more can you say about zombies to make it new and original, right? Well, Courtney Summers may use zombies as a theme in this book, but it really forms a very small, though not less important, part of the plot. How often do you read books with a suicidal protagonist in the lead? In my case, very seldom. That alone was refreshingly different. So, what else is left to focus on? The romance, of course! But, we all know I’m not a big fan of romance, so if I tell you the romance in this book was slow and subtle, it’s something you can count on.  “This is Not a Test” is a character-driven novel that moves at a leisurely pace. Even though I didn’t feel that emotionally invested in the characters, I felt sympathetic towards them, and even more surprisingly, I actually cried at the death of one specific character (who, coincidentally, wasn’t bitten by a zombie). Each character brings something of value to the story and I was so immersed in their plight I finished this quick read in less than a day.  As far as post-apocalyptic novels go, this one has very little action in it, but it is well worth the read for the characters alone.  This is the first of Courtney Summers’ books I’ve read, and I’m definitely going to read more of her books!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago