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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, 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...
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?
"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
Excerpted from This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers Copyright © 2012 by Courtney Summers. Excerpted by permission.
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Posted June 20, 2012
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.
10 out of 12 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 19, 2012
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.
5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 19, 2012
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.
4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 22, 2012
Posted March 24, 2013
Posted February 13, 2013
Posted February 1, 2013
If i had to describe this book i would say its kind of like "monument 14" or kinda like the middle of a zombie appocalypse with a few kids trapped in a school with alot of drama going on between them. They rarley go outside into the whole mess. They only go out into the open twice after they get to the school when they have to defend themselves. But overall its an okay read i did enjoy itWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 7, 2013
i really liked the book. it was emotional and it really got your thinking and putting yourself in the characters shoes. the only downside was the ending. it kind of left you hanging on what exactly happened and how it exactly ended. happy? or completely sad?Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 19, 2012
I remember how excited I was to read this book when it first came out. I mean, I'm one of those people who hears the word zombie and my ears instantly perk up. I read review after raving review, and finally bit the book-buying bullet when I read Kendra's from Novel Sounds rave coverage of it. (I also listened to her song picks for the book while writing this review, which you should totally check out as well). Furthermore, I'd heard a ton of great things about Courtney Summers from several of my favorite bloggers, so I figured I'd kill two birds with one stone and read about zombies while checking another author off my try-for-the-first-time list.
However, as many of you have experienced personally, buying a book doesn't always means you get to read it right away. This book sat on my shelf for about six months before I got around to it (which sadly, is a pretty short for me these days). But I was DETERMINED to read it over Christmas break so I could finally see what all the fuss was about. And I can tell you this right off the bat...all the fuss is definitely well-deserved. I'm still not entirely sure that I've completely wrapped my head around everything that Summers managed to do with This Is Not a Test, but I loved that it kept me thinking about the story long after I turned the final page. In fact, I have at least three other book reviews that I needed to write before writing this one, but after finishing This Is Not a Test, I immediately felt compelled to share my thoughts, so I decided to bump it up on my review list.
I know other bloggers have said this before (though forgive me for forgetting where I first heard it), but I wanted to say it as well: This Is Not a Test is a zombie book, but it's so much more than that. In fact, I would highly recommend it to readers who are fans of zombies OR compelling, contemporary fiction, because it really does fit into both of those categories. And along with a compelling storyline, This Is Not a Test takes an in-depth look at a variety of complex themes that would appeal to those readers who are looking for a little more depth in their stories.
I have to admit...this is one of those reviews that was difficult for me to write. There's so much that I loved about this book, and I feel like I could spend hours talking about it in a literature class, but I also don't want to ruin the experience for anyone else. I think one of the reasons why I enjoyed the book so much was that all I knew about it going in was that it was a book about zombies and a girl with a death wish. My recommendation for those of you who haven't heard a lot about the actual details of the story is to keep it that way. I think you'll enjoy it more. As far as my final thoughts? This is a book you don't want to miss.
Posted December 9, 2012
This was a really good story and really well written. It was dark and emotional and the characters were all very vivid. My biggest complaint was that it was so short. It was only 150 pages, which for me took about 5 hours to read. I wouldn't have paid $10 for it if i had known it was so short. It seems like a lot of money for such a short book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 30, 2012
Don't start this book until you have a good chunk of time available because you won't want to put it down. It starts quickly and grabs you from the first chapter. I read this over a week ago and I still can't get it out of my head. In the post-zombie apocalypse, Sloane and five other teens find refuge by locking themselves in their high school. They don't know how long their lunchroom food and water will last, and the zombies are roaming the streets waiting for someone to bite. The most intense conflict, however, comes from the teens' interactions as their patience, sanity, and very will to live are put to the test. In case I hadn't mentioned it...I am not a zombie-fan. In fact, if I had realized this was a zombie book, I would have put it back. I'm so glad I didn't.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 2, 2012
Disturbing, gritty, and above all, beautiful, This Is Not A Test will have you drawn in from the first page to the last. With characters that are real and relatable, this book is less about the horror of the apocalypse, and more about the tragedy of its survivors. All in all, this book fantastically portreys the fragile balance that is life after "the end", and it will have you on the edge of your seat just as often as it has you in tears.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 12, 2012
i got stuck at airports all day and bought this book in the morning. by the time i landed home, i had finished the book and had been entertained all day. it was a good read with an interesting back story. definitely teen level reading, but still kept me interested. i didn't regret the spontaneous airport nook purchase.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 17, 2012
I Also Recommend:
I could not put this book down. I am a huge fan of apocalyptic novels, zombies or not. I end up enjoying most of them but few leave me thinking about the story for weeks after. This is one of those books.
"This Is Not a Test" contains so many aspects of young adult fiction and combines them wonderfully. One thing: there is no romance. I did not mind this at all; if romance were added to this story would not have as great of an impact on readers. It would have strayed away from the point the author was trying to make and would not have been realistic in this book.
The main character Solane, states that she is ready for death after her sister left her with their abusive father. Though throughout the story Sloane makes choices that showed me that while she had hardly any hope, she was not exactly ready to die just yet.
The book is filled with angst, gaining strained friendships and enemies, trying to hold onto hope and being very weary about trust. While the characters are locked in the school for the majority of the book, it never once felt boring. There is a good mix of Solane’s thoughts, her interactions with other characters, and thoughts about the outside world. While some readers will be disappointed the characters are not face to face with the zombies for most of the book, I think it made the zombies even more of a threat. The characters didn’t know how they came to be, how dangerous they were, and what the world was like outside for the most part. It was a very scary thought.
I only feel like the ending was a little rushed. It seemed like many of the drastic elements happened in the very last chapters and it left me devastated. But my guess is that was what the author was aiming for and she did a good job to pull at my emotions and have me cringe. I was rooting for all of the characters, even the ones that weren’t so kind. You can’t really blame any of them for their actions because of everything they have witnessed and been through.
The very last scenes actually shocked me. I didn’t not see them playing out like they did. The author did a good job on keeping the reader guessing. The reader is left with the same feelings as the characters at the end of the book: devastated and still leaning on that little bit of hope. A great book that I would recommend to not only apocalypse fans, but fans of young adult books in general.
Posted August 28, 2012
Posted August 24, 2012
This immediately went on my to-read list just because its Courtney Summers. I have to admit I was a little wary about zombies (not because I don't like zombie book, but because Courtney hasn't tackled this type of book before). Turns out that I should have realized this book really isn't about zombies.
I found it interesting that Sloane is so ready to turn it all in. We get a little bit of a glimpse of why (and the full pictures comes throughout the story), but she never seems suicidal. To me it just didn't fit with her character. If she was that willing to die, I don't think she would have made such an effort to get to the high school. I think in the back of her mind she knew she had something to live for.
At first I was a little annoyed about how the zombie apocalypse takes place. We know next to nothing about it. And it's never explained. One moment the world is fine, the next its not. But, as the characters get their moments in the book, I came to realize this story was about them. It's focusing on the tensions that can be created when faced with this grim reality. That the people who will survive are the ones who find their inner strength and courage to push on no matter what. And that sometimes the only way to do that is to put your trust in someone you normally would have nothing to do with. This type of catastrophe breaks down all social barriers. I think the author did a fabulous job with this.
Once I let go of the zombie portion of the story, I found that this was really just like every other book I've read by Courtney Summers. And I enjoyed it immensely.
Posted August 16, 2012
Zombie books seem to be growing in popularity and that's something that
I have no complaints about! I've mentioned before that I have a certain
weakness for zombie films, and books are no exception to this. But what
I found particularly intriguing about This Is Not a Test is how the
zombie storyline serves more as a backdrop to the real story; which
deals much more with Sloane's personal growth and development than
anything else. That's something largely unexpected in a zombie book, but
it does make for something new. It does a fantastic job of questioning
who the real zombies are - the killer undead wandering around outside,
or the absolutely broken and shattered living girl who can't feel
anything? Reasons to Read: 1.A zombie book with depth: Like I
mentioned above, it's really great to see that there's so much more to
this than just undead humans trying to kill living people (with some
good old government conspiracy thrown in). Sloane is desperately unhappy
and angry; quite frankly, she really isn't concerned with her survival
at all. Which makes it rather interesting to throw her into a survival
scenario. And it's so enriching to see what the motives are behind her
actions, and the changes which take place to her as her situation moves
along. And it's especially interesting because Sloane doesn't feel like
she's really missing out on anything with the zombies taking over- her
life wasn't any better before that happened. 2.Realistically scary:
Even though the zombies don't play a huge role in the story, they do
create a very effective setting just by being there - it's like a
looming dark shadow over the entire plot. And the fact that everything
is so still, so quiet for such a long time it just makes the reader more
anxious for that JUMP moment. And there are so many other dark,
frightening aspects to it that add to the overall ambiance - it's
impossible to escape. But these other aspects are ones we can easily
relate to because they're so familiar to our society and happen all the
time (as unfortuante as it is). That feeling of loneliness and losing
those we care about - that's terrifying. But unfortunately, I found
that there wasn't quite enough development of the story for it to really
appeal to me as a reader. I applaud Courtney Summers for being able to
create a rich zombie book with so much more going on than zombies - but
I also have to admit that I was expecting a bit more action, and to
identify with the main character both of which I found to be areas
lacking. I wasn't particularly taken with many of the secondary
characters either - it was understandable that they would be upset and
angry, but it seemed like they were all working against each other in
rather petty ways simply to get back revenge. Every character lacked an
idea of what they needed to accomplish in the long-term, and ended up
stuck on short term desires. Normally I would expect such heavy, dark
books to move me but for whatever reason I found it far too difficult to
root for any character because I just couldn't identify. And without
that relationship, I couldn't LOVE the book although I can clearly see
why so many others would. Courtney's talent as a writer is exceptional
and beautiful; lovely imagery, and captivating words that draw you in. A
zombie book that truly stands out among the rest- it even has a vaguely
contemporary feel to it, which could make it appeal to a large group of
readers. E-galley received from publisher for my honest review; no
other compensation was received.
Posted August 13, 2012
Posted August 12, 2012