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?
|Publisher:||St. Martin's Press|
|File size:||960 KB|
|Age Range:||13 - 17 Years|
About 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.
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.
Read an Excerpt
This is Not a Test
By Courtney Summers
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2012 Courtney Summers
All rights reserved.
SEVEN DAYS LATER
"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!"
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.
SEVEN HOURS LATER
This must be what Dorothy felt like, I think. Maybe. If Dorothy was six scared teenagers and Oz was hell. No, this must be a joke; we are six scared teenagers and our high school is one of the last buildings in Cortege that is still in one piece and I'm not sure I can think of a better or worse place to spend the end of days. It was supposed to be the community center. We went there first like we were told—the town's designated emergency shelter for the kind of emergencies we were assured would likely never happen—and it was the first place to fall. There were too many of us and too many of them. Somehow, we fought our way from one side of town to the other. In another life, the trip would have taken forty minutes.
In this one, it took seven days.
The radio crackles the prerecorded voice of that woman at us over and over. We have done everything she has told us to do. We have locked and barricaded all the doors. We have covered the windows so no one can see outside and—more importantly—nothing can see in. "Do not draw attention to yourself," the woman says, but if we know anything by now, it's that. "Once you have found a secure location, stay where you are and help will come soon." Cary sits on the stage across from me, waiting for the message to change. It doesn't.
"This is not a test. Listen closely. This is not a test."
But I think she's wrong. I think this is a test.
It has to be.
Grace and Trace sit on the floor below. She's whispering in his ear and he's nodding to whatever she's saying and he doesn't look right. He looks sick. He reaches for his sister's hand and holds it tightly, pressing his fingers into her skin like he's making sure she exists. After a while, he feels me looking at him and turns his pale face in my direction. I hold his gaze until the chaos outside breaks my concentration. Outside, where everything is falling, landing and breaking at once. Sometimes you catch something specific like the screams and cries of people trying to hold on to each other before they're swallowed into other, bigger noises.
This is what it sounds like when the world ends.
I take in the auditorium. The cheery purple and beige walls, the matching banners that hang from the ceiling, the Rams posters (GO RAMS, GO!) taped up all over. It was Cary's idea to come to the school. After we found the community center overrun, we heard that woman's voice on the phone. Find a place. He didn't even hesitate before he said CHS. Cortege High. It was built to be the most distraction-free learning environment in the county, which means maximum windows for minimal view. Strategically placed transoms line the classrooms and halls, save for skylights in the auditorium and gym. Two large windows open up the right side of the second and third floors and overlook the school's parking lot. They're covered now.
"It's still happening," Harrison says.
I follow his tearful gaze to the exit just right of the stage. The doors open into the parking lot which bleeds out into the streets of Cortege, a half-dead, half-dying town. They're locked, the doors. Locked and covered with lunch tables reinforced by desks, thanks to Rhys and me. Every entrance and exit in here is the same. The idea is nothing gets past these barriers we've created. We spent the first five hours here putting them up. We've spent the last two shaking and quiet, waiting for them to fall.
"Of course it's still happening," Rhys mutters. "Why wouldn't it be?"
Cary turns the radio off and eases himself onto the floor. He looks like he has something to say but first he runs his hands through his black hair, letting his eyes travel over each of us. Cary Chen. We followed him for days. Lily used to buy pot from him sometimes and sometimes I wanted to, but I thought that would make English class weird and I don't know if she always paid in cash.
"Listen, I—" He sounds sandpaper rough from screaming instructions at us for hours and never once taking a breath. He clears his throat. "Phone?"
Trace makes a gurgling noise, digs his hand into his pocket, pulls out his cell, and frantically dials a number, but it's no use. The woman's voice drones over each desperate push of the buttons, a condensed version of what we're getting on the radio. I watch the sound work its way into Trace's bones, his blood. His face turns white and he whips his phone across the room. It breaks into three pieces; the back flies off, the battery falls out, and the body skitters across the shiny linoleum floor. Nothing works anymore and the things that still do don't work like they should.
"I can't get through," he says flatly.
Cary picks up the pieces and fits them back in place.
"Give it more time. You will."
"Think they'd pick up if I did?"
I watch Cary, waiting to see if he'll defend himself. He doesn't. He turns the cell phone over and over in his hands and says, "Trace, the message is a good thing. I think it means they're leaving priority signal for emergency workers."
Harrison sniffs. "So they can save us?"
"Yeah." Cary nods. "We'll be saved."
"And that's your expert opinion?" Trace asks.
Cary shrugs but he doesn't look Trace in the eyes, focusing instead on the doors. His expression reveals nothing, but he's turning the phone in his hands faster now, clumsily.
"It just makes sense," he says.
"That's what you said about coming here. That really paid off for me and Grace." Cary winces.
"He got the rest of us here," Rhys says.
There were eight of us, before.
"Oh, so I'm here. Hey, Grace!" Trace turns to her. "You're here. We're here with Cary Chen." He laughs bitterly. "You think that means anything to us when—"
"Trace, stop." Grace sounds just broken enough that Trace doesn't take it any further. He frowns, holds out his hand to Cary and says, "Give me back my fucking phone."
Cary stares at it like he doesn't want to give it up, like Trace's cell phone is an anchor keeping him here but I don't know why anyone would want to be anchored here.
"Now," Trace says.
Cary holds it out and finally looks Trace in the eyes.
"I'm sorry," he says, "about your parents."
Trace rips the phone from Cary's grasp.
I close my eyes and imagine this place under totally normal circumstances. We have assemblies here. The principal gives speeches here. We eat in this room at lunch. I imagine a day, any school day, setting up the lunch tables and getting in line, picking from the menu. I can almost smell the food ...
But then the noises outside get louder than anything I can imagine. They pump through my veins, speed up my heart, and remind me to be afraid even though I have never stopped being afraid, not since Lily left. I open my eyes at the same time the whole barricade seems to shift. Rhys rushes to it, pushing against the desks and tables until they're settled again.
"What was that?" Harrison asks. "Why did it—"
"It's just the way this desk was—it wasn't the door—"
"It's the door?"
"It wasn't the door. Just calm down, Harrison. Jesus."
Harrison starts to cry. He stands in the middle of the room and holds himself because no one else will and it's the loneliest thing I've ever seen. I'd go to him, maybe, but I don't even know Harrison. None of us do. He's one of those invisible freshmen made even more invisible by the fact he just moved here four weeks ago. Cary had to ask him his name after we found him trapped under a bike with his jeans caught in the spokes.
Things I know about Harrison now: not only is he short and stocky, he also cries. A lot. Grace takes pity on him because she's better than I'll ever be. She wraps her arm around him and murmurs gentle-sounding words at him and I watch his sobs slowly turn to gasps that turn into pathetic little hiccups. Everyone else averts their eyes. They find things to do so they don't have to watch. I watch because I don't know what else to do. I watch until I can't anymore. I dig my hand into my pockets. My fingers curl around a crumpled piece of paper.
I take it out and unfold it.
The voice is quiet, close. I shove the note back in my pocket. Rhys hovers at the edge of the stage. His brown hair sticks up everywhere and his brown eyes are bloodshot. Things I know about Rhys: he's a senior. Our lockers are across from each other.
He put his hands on me and told me I was okay.
He has a case of water in his arms. He sets it on the stage and holds a bottle out to me. I don't even ask him where he got it, just rip it from his hands. I remember us huddled around this old birdbath yesterday, yesterday morning. We cupped our palms together and lapped up all the dirty, stagnant water and it tasted so awful but so, so wonderful because we were so desperate and isn't everything better when you're desperate? We managed to forget our parched mouths and cracked lips while we secured the school and settled into the last two hours, but now I don't even know how that's possible because I am so fucking thirsty. I down the water quickly and then I want more. Rhys hands me another and watches me drink it too. I drink until I feel like the ocean is in my stomach and when I'm done, I'm spent. I curl my knees up to my chin and wrap my arms around them. Rhys gives me a crooked smile.
"Still here," he says. "We made it."
"Is that water?" Trace calls from his side of the room. "Is that really water?"
I turn my face to the doors.
I jolt awake, forget where I am for a second. Everyone is laid out around me, asleep on the dusty blue gym mats we dragged in from the storage room. The last thing we had energy for, the last thing we could do for ourselves before we totally crashed.
I raise my head and listen.
It's just deep breathing, the noises outside, and nothing else.
I listen hard, but there's nothing else.
I pull at the collar of my shirt and rest my head against the mat. My clothes feel scratchy and awful against my skin, which is covered in a layer of sweat. I force my eyes shut and drift or maybe it's sleep and then I think I hear him again—Sloane—and I jerk awake again and this time, when I close my eyes I see the living room floor covered in little pieces of red glass.
After a while, I give up on sleep. I check my watch. It's almost six a.m. I have to pee. My muscles protest as I edge off the mat. The floor is cold and my toes curl in on themselves. I cross the room and step into the hall. It's an open mouth that forks off in different directions. The tiled floors shine weirdly under the emergency lights lining the ceiling. They wash out the uninterrupted stretch of beige and purple walls and make them almost seem to glow. I feel like a ghost underneath them. The robot beep that happens just before an announcement comes over the loudspeakers drifts through my head. It's that woman on the phone and on the radio and she wants us all to listen closely. I imagine this place crowded with students, all our faces tilted up. Everything about this is wrong. This school was never built to be empty.
Maybe it's not safe to be out here alone.
Maybe I should go back and wake someone up.
If anything happens, it will just happen to me.
I push through the doors to the girls' room and head straight for the sinks where I'm sick. The sound of myself retching makes me retch more. The only way I get myself to stop is by forcing myself to straighten before I'm finished. Bile dribbles down my chin. I twist the faucets without thinking.
Water. Comes. Out.
Does everyone know this? Did they find out before me? I avoided the taps when I was in here before because I didn't want to end up disappointed if they didn't work but they work and no one said a word to me about it. Running water. I stare at the gushing faucet for too long and then I hold my hands under the stream and splash my face, my neck. Dip my wet hands below my shirt. My body trembles in gratitude but I have no idea who to thank. I turn the faucet off and then I turn it on again just to be sure of what I saw, that I didn't imagine it.
I didn't imagine it.
The water is real. It moves effortlessly from spout to drain.
I turn it off. I use the toilet. When I come out of the stall, I'm confronted by something else I've managed to avoid. My reflection. My skin is tinged green and my brown hair is greasy, strands all clumped together, hanging around my face. There's a bruise directly below my right eye and I'm not sure how it got there. I trace it with my fingertips. I look better than I did three weeks ago. Funny. The end of the world has done less damage to my face.
I laugh. I lean against the sink and laugh so hard my sides split and I die and it's good. I press my hands against the mirror. Over my face. The glass feels weird and unreal against my palms. If you break glass into pieces, you can use one of those pieces as a highly effective weapon against another human being. Right through the eye. I saw it. I saw it, I did, I saw it. I stare at my fingernails. They're ruined, cracked. Rhys and Cary found me sitting in the middle of the road, six streets away from my home, digging my fingernails into the pavement. They thought I was trying to get to my feet, that I wanted to keep going when really I was just waiting to die because I thought I had actually found Lily's pills and taken them and my brain was inventing this weird dreamscape before it finally shut down for good because how could this be real? How could it be true? The dead don't just come back to life.
By the time I realized it was real, it was true, it was too late to tell Cary and Rhys I wasn't like them. That I didn't want to keep going. They were working so hard to hold on, I knew they wouldn't understand. So I stayed with them.
Mostly because I didn't think we'd make it this far.
Excerpted from This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers. Copyright © 2012 Courtney Summers. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.
I love it!!!
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.
The girl sloane is so whiny and needy i wished she would die alresdy
This book has been touted as one of the big YA blockbusters of the summer, so I have been waiting eagerly for it to come out.Good zombie YA fiction is hard to come by. This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers is an attempt to rectify that fact. We are introduced to Sloane, the protagonist, who has been beaten repeatedly by her father and is completely emotionally dependent on her sister Lily, who has just run away and has left Sloane behind. Sloane is about to commit suicide when the infection takes hold of the rest of the town, converting everyone into zombies, except a select few teenagers who have holed up in their high school. What follows is a combination of a horror movie and Lord of the Flies. The teens have to make hard decisions and try to stay alive.There are a lot of wonderful things about this book. The tone is dark and depressing, and it should be. I'm still thinking about what happened in the book. There are strong supporting characters and Summers is not afraid to kill off characters. How the future unfolds is not out of the realm of possibility in a zombie apocalypse. And how things deteriorate inside of the school is also very believable. I wonder at the decision to make Sloane the protagonist. It's an interesting choice, because during the whole book she is trying to find ways to commit suicide, and yet, she still remains alive even though many other people succumb to the virus. She seems to drift through the book like a ghost. I try to imagine if another character had been the main one-- the idea that there is a suicidal person surviving in an end of world situation is interesting, but one that doesn't maintain interest throughout a whole novel. The twist at the end is the likely scenario and not surprising, but the end is chilling and still stays with me.Overall, a dark, brooding, and suspenseful book and entertaining to read, but a different choice of protagonist may have been a better decision.
Holy crap y'all. This. Book. It seriously blew me away. I settled in for another book about people fighting off hordes of zombies, but what I got was so much more. I was so not expecting to love it as much as I did.What sets this book apart from the standard zombie survival book, is that the main focus is not the zombies. It's the survivors, and the heartbreaking main character, Sloane. The zombies are more of an outside presence throughout roughly 90% of the book. The threat is there, it's just not the main focus.When the book begins, Sloane has decided to commit suicide. She's tired of living with an abusive father, and her older sister, her one true savior, has run away, leaving Sloane to deal with their father herself. Before Sloane can follow through with her plan, all hell breaks loose outside and she soon finds herself running for her life. Seven days later, Sloane finds herself barricaded in her high school with five other students as the zombies terrorize their small town -- their only contact with the outside world the droning voice of the woman on the radio telling them to seek shelter and that "this is not a test."As the days go by, the teens do their best to remain calm despite the conflicts within the group. As the others make plans to survive, Sloane wonders why she is even there. She doesn't want to be alive, so why is she fighting for her life?The character dynamics in this group are amazing. I loved Sloane. She's an emotional wreck, and though she hardly delivers any dialogue, her voice is loud and strong. (The book is told from her point of view). The fact that she doesn't want to live, and spends a majority of the book wondering how she can get outside without bringing harm to the others, makes her even more compelling.As I said before, this is not your standard zombie novel, but there is plenty of tension. In fact, not having direct contact with the zombies outside makes the book that much more frightening. A lot of the scenes are psychologically intense and kept me glued to the pages. The last few chapters are insane, and seriously left me breathless.If you liked The Forest of Hands & Teeth series, this is a must read. I highly recommend this one. It is definitely one of my top picks of this year.
I'm in awe of Courtney Summers. I've come to the conclusion that she can't write anything I won't end up in love with. I'm completely freaked out my zombies in realistic settings - because I seriously believe that the zombie apocalypse will happen someday and I am so, so screwed - but I couldn't pass up a book by Summers. Honestly, I've become dependent on the fact that she releases a new novel every year, and I couldn't not read This Is Not a Test just because zombies and gore make me a bit nauseous. And, though I can't say that any of Summers' novels are particularly happy, I find them oddly comforting. These are the novels that people refer to when they say reading makes them feel understood and less alone.The best thing about This Is Not a Test is that yes, it's a zombie book, but it is so much more than that. For me, it was everything I loved about Summers' past novels, including the intense emotion, flawed characters, and desperate situations PLUS zombies. I mean, Summers' novels always crackle with intensity, so much so that I didn't believe she could turn it any higher, but she definitely proved me wrong.I've yet to stop myself from falling in love with all of characters in Summers' books. It's a bit ridiculous really. I've even gone so far as to name pets after them. (Okay, one pet. My cat, Milo, is named after a character from Fall for Anything.) Like Summers' past novels, the characters in This Is Not a Test each have a distinct personality. I always feel that I truly understand what motivates each character's actions and emotions, whether they're the main character or small, seemingly unimportant character.I can't stress enough how much I adore each and every novel Summers' has written and, though This Is Not a Test is in some ways a departure from her previous novels, it is, at it's core, what readers have come to expect from her. Plus zombies. And while this book may sound horribly bleak, I've come to find that Summers' always leaves her characters, and her readers, with a shimmering ray of hope. Even during the zombie apocalypse.
ADGJ SKLDJ FLKAJS FLJDAFLKJASLDJ! Those are about the extent of my thoughts on this title. Incase you are unable to translate, that means incredibly in love, shocked, heartbroken, and confused. This is Not a Test is going on the "the shelf". The shelf that is reserved in my bedroom for the books that I absolutely loved. Let's see if I can be somewhat coherent for the rest of this review...The world is collapsing, but this is nothing new to Sloane. Actually, Sloane welcomes the chaos and her imminent death. But after joining up with a group of high schoolers looking for shelter, her life is no longer up to her. She is forced to survive through the sheer will of the other teenagers. But what can you do when not only does the outside world hold unimaginable danger, but the inside holds its own types of threats? What lengths would you go to survive? And who will actually make it? The simultaneous best and weirdest part of this novel is how much it resembles a contemporary. I realize that there are not zombies currently walking the Earth (or are they....), but the novel is not really about the zombie apocalypse. The apocalypse is what forces the characters to really be introduced to themselves for the first time. Their regrets and fears rampage them, and they start to see how strong they really are. But what is the most terrifying is what they will do to survive. It honestly reads like a contemporary, which was undeniably strange, but made the novel so much better.This book was just really beautiful, something you don't expect when you read the synopsis. I would highly recommend it, especially to those crazies who like to have their hearts torn out.
Review courtesy of All Things Urban FantasyIf John Hughes¿ The Breakfast Club had been set during the zombie apocalypse, it would be THIS IS NOT A TEST. A dark, character driven story about a motley group of teens who barricade themselves in a local high school with an army of the undead pounding on the doors. It is a fascinating and unputdownable book.Courtney summers writes in a very literary, yet completely accessible way. Her characters are sharply drawn and morally messy in the face of the zombie apocalypse. Most of the characters in THIS IS NOT A TEST will incite hatred from readers at various points throughout the book. Some will redeem themselves, others will have flashes of reform that only pave the way for greater acts of depravity. Many times while reading I thought the zombie infested world outside was preferable to the breakdown inside.The plot unfolds in shocking scenes. Some violent, some emotionally devastating. If you normally shy away from zombie books because of the gore factor, give THIS IS NOT A TEST a chance. Most of the violence in this book is carried out by humans, and the zombie interaction is not graphically described. The real impact of this story is about the emotional fallout that the six surviving teens experience. The protagonist, Sloane, specifically because of her unique reaction to the apocalypse stemming from her past. This is a powerful and immensely satisfying book.Sexual Content:Kissing and scenes of sensuality.
Before I read This is Not a Test, I had heard good things about Courtney Summers' books, but I had not yet had the pleasure of reading them. Therefore, I was really excited to get the chance to read this one because I am a huge fan of zombie books and I figured this would be a great introduction to Courtney's work for me. I can honestly say that I was not disappointed! This is Not a Test is really so much more than just a zombie book. It deals more with the emotional aspects of the six kids trapped in the high school - how they got there, the toll that it has taken on them physically AND psychologically up to that point, and what they have had to do to survive. Our main character, Sloane Price, has already had a tough life, dealing with abuse and abandonment issues after first her mother and then her sister left her. She has already decided that she doesn't want to live through this horror any longer, she just has to decide how and when to die, while keeping her fragile emotional state from the other kids in the school. Be prepared when you read this book for the emotional toll it will take on YOU! What these teens go through is heart wrenching and, although it sounds a little far fetched given that we are dealing with zombies and the end of the world as we know it, it feels so real! That is the true mark of a good author - one who can take an idea that is so far from reality and make you feel the emotions of the characters as though you are going through it all yourself - and Courtney Summers has that in spades! Her writing style is terrific as she makes her characters come to life for you. The characters, even the secondary ones, are very well written and there is marked character growth from beginning to end. In summary, I totally enjoyed this book as it was different from other zombie novels I've read, but amazingly good! If you love a good emotional story that happens to be set during a zombie apocalypse, then I wholeheartedly recommend this book to you :D
Have you ever wondered what the internal processes of the end of the world by zombie apocalypse might ever look like? "The Walking Dead" gives us some idea, but "This Is Not A Test" goes much further than that, giving us almost overwhelming detail into what we might feel as we begin to lose everything around us. It's not like so many of the apocalyptic novels we've come to expect from YA - there is no romance, there is no overbearing government, but there is disaster and need dogging us as the audience at every corner. "This Is Not A Test" is a luminously dark look into the human psyche as all hell breaks loose, and isn't exactly the feel good book of the year, but it's a very much needed book all the same.We see this through the eyes of Sloane, a girl who's already lost everything and is now waiting for death (or what mimics it) with open arms. She hides with friends/acquaintances in her high school, waiting for either help or the ultimate end of it all to come. Summers does a fantastic job in showing us the internal processes of a girl whose world is so shattered that she already has nothing to lose in such an awful situation, along with need that is so intense that you will probably have to put the book down more than once and walk away just to get yourself back into once piece to continue reading. I know that's what happened to me - I don't have that many triggers, but this book hit on my largest one (abandonment) so there were some moments throughout the book where I did have to take a breather before I could keep going. One thing I did want to see more of was how this disaster got started - it's good that we start in media res of the entire situation, and it's also good we have the other members of the cast speculating on what might have happened to cause the dead to rise, but I kind of wanted more external explanation (or at least, backstory) to give us a firmer handhold into this world that Summers created. As for the internal conflict (to keep living during the end of the world or to give in and become a zombie snack), that world was incredibly well-built, and reminded me a lot of "Masque of the Red Death" in how very bleak it was. This isn't to say that the external conflict/world wasn't well-built - it was, but up until the last fourth of the novel, the external conflict (omg zombies) wasn't as present as I would have liked, and doesn't really kick in until that important last fourth. Hence, not five stars. I wanted more action on the zombie front, and I liked more of a threat than just the pounding on the walls around our characters.What was great was the ending - it's so ambiguous, and I'm glad it's a standalone. We have Sloane contemplating living more seriously than ever before, but at the same time, the temptation of death is literally pounding at her window. The final lines of the book are STILL haunting me, and it's been days since I finished the book. Sloane's personal character arc is one of the best I've seen in YA in recent years because she seems so contemporary and yet, in the middle of zombies chowing down on everyone around her, so very not. She's had horrible things done to her, yet she still has the ambivalent question of wanting to live, or maybe not wanting to live, and ping-pongs between the two up until the very end. There was nothing I could really predict or anything I saw coming, and I love it when authors keep me guessing. It seems rare in YA right now and Summers nailed it. She's not afraid to kill (and zombify) her darlings, so she definitely has my respect on that end.Those that are looking for a high-action om nom nom zombie story might want to look elsewhere. This is an internal examination of the self at the end of the world, and the zombies are really more at the fringes of things, picking people off, silently asking the question of who's the bigger monster - the surviving humans? Or the zombies? It's a question I keep turning over in my head, and I still haven't quite decided yet. Fi
Author Courtney Summers offers her view of the end of the world in This is Not a Test, a new teen novel that follows in the footsteps of the popular post-apocalyptic genre. When the world ends, six students, including Sloane Price, take refugee inside Cortege High School to wait out the apocalypse -and, most importantly -to survive physically and mentally.This is a Not a Test had its ups and downs for me. The books crowing glory, without question, is Summers' gorgeous, lyrical writing style that frequently boarded on poetry. Though, I'll admit that her storytelling isn't orthodox and can be considered slow-moving or lacking in enough dialog, that really didn't bother me for most of the book. I was completely pulled in by Summers' amazing style and the fascinating character depth that grew with every word.Yet, the plot seemed to move very slowly and seemed to be almost non-existent. The characters didn't seem to do much other than sit around and have retrospective thoughts and conversations about their lives. All that mattered now was survival, and if it took holing up in the local high school to do it, they were going to find a way. While I understand that this can be difficult for anyone to get through mentally, and Summers did a great job of portraying this, there just wasn't enough going on in the plot for me. Despite that, I read the entire book and didn't want to put it down.This is Not a Test offers a fascinating dissection of the human mind, its reaction to crisis and the will to survive that's interesting to read, but lacks action.
I'm going to preface this by saying that this review is probably going to be a little all over the place, as I'm having a hard time really putting my feelings into words. There were aspects of this book that were absolutely brutal to read; the main character, Sloane, is pretty much done with life and wanting to end it all. You get a pretty good look at why she feels this way - her father abused her and her sister, Lily, and even though Lily promised they'd run off together to escape him, it was really only Lily who ran away and escaped - but her thought processes are so depressing that there were times I had to put this book aside and take a break. Then on top of this, the zombie apocalypse has arrived, and the dead are taking over. Sloane and five others have managed to barricade themselves in their high school, but the dead are right outside, sometimes pounding down the doors. There is an overwhelming sense of despair because of this, which just makes what Sloane is feeling about ten times worse to read about.However, with that being said, there was something truly gripping about this book. To call this a zombie book would be doing it a disservice, because while the book is set during said zombie apocalypse, the whole point of the book is Sloane's look at life while the others around her - particularly Cary - are doing anything and everything they can to survive. Her point of view is completely at odds with everyone else's, and there are all of these little asides that she says or thinks that really just get to the reader, particularly when it comes to them having to make some hard decisions: "I know we're not bad people, not deep down inside" (pg. 183). For someone who is pretty much living only because she hasn't been able to off herself yet, Sloane is a very compelling character, and I kind of spent the whole time wanting to shake her, and for her to realize that she really could do something with her life even though Lily left her. And what better time to do so then when the world is falling apart and she's finally got a bit of freedom, in that she's out from under her father's thumb? But instead of focusing on how to survive (although she's very good at this, even if she doesn't mean to be), she keeps thinking of these elaborate ways to go out. There was one line that really struck me about Sloane, and it came up towards the end: "[We won't be able to see our deaths coming] and I haven't once imagined a death that was out of my control since this started" (pg. 291). Kind of puts her whole thought process into focus, you know? She's full of these contradictions and keeps doing and saying these things that go are a direct opposite to what she's thinking in her head, and I just couldn't help but be pulled in.And then you have all of these things that happen because it is the end of the world, and Sloane keeps pointing them out and making note of them, and it just makes you think the entire time you're reading the book, something along the line of, "I wonder if this would have happened or if x would have done this under different circumstances?" And in one respect - which I won't go into to avoid spoilers - I would certainly hope it would, because I think it would have helped, but you can't help but think of it as an "end of the world" thing (which is exactly what Sloane says about something else that happened that I also won't get into).Even if you're not a fan of zombies - and I would definitely put myself in that camp - I think you could find something to like about this book. The parts with the zombies are frightening and horrifying and terrible, make no mistake, and there is that sense of overwhelming despair, but Sloane's personal journey is something that anyone would be able to connect with. This Is Not A Test will be out in North America on June 19, 2012. I definitely recommend it.An ARC of this title was provided for free via a Goodreads First Reads giveaway.
I finished this book SO quickly and just loved it. It really sucks you in, and when I wasn't reading it, I was thinking about it. I really liked the characters, even the one I couldn't stand, if that makes sense. I'm just mad that it ended!! Sequel??
Sloane is utterly alone in the world. Her father beat her and her sister for years and they told no one to stay together. Then one day, her sister just left her despite their plans to run away when Sloane turned 18. Completely abandoned and with no one else to turn to, Sloane considers suicide and would have succeeded had her sister left her prescription pills. Then the zombies come and the world is thrown into chaos. A few days later, Sloane is hiding out at her high school with five other students, waiting to be rescued by someone. She still doesn't really want to live, but everyone around her does. They wait and wait, but no one comes. They only hear the zombies outside or just silence. Their survival depends less on the zombies outside and more about the conflicts between the teens inside the school. Who will survive and is anyone coming to save them? Is anywhere in this zombie infested world safe?I read a lot of rave reviews before reading This is Not a Test, so my expectations were very high at the outset. It didn't live up to all of my expectations, but it's a formidable novel. It centers around the 6 teens holed up in the high school and how they interact day after day. Each of the teens comes from a different background and they all bring different baggage. Their melodramas and conflicts are the center of the novel, not the zombies. Like many of the zombie stories I like, the humans can sometimes be more dangerous than the zombies. The characters are at first shell shocked and still reeling over the events leading up to their meeting: family members dying, chaos in the streets, cannibalistic living corpses, and the rest of the trappings of the zombie apocalypse. Then they start to argue, tempers run high, factions start to form, and new relationships are made. I generally liked Sloane and felt her background gave the book a sense of realism and a glimpse into how abuse can effect someone. Some readers complain that she whines a lot and holds on to the past, but she is a victim of long term and violent abuse that obviously have long term psychological problems that can't really be dealt with in her current situation. She experienced not only the abuse of her father, but also her sister, who told her over and over not to tell anyone about their father's abuse using threat of being separated to scare her. She also told Sloane never to have any other friends or boyfriends, leading their relationship to be incredibly one sided (as she could have other people in her life) and codependent. After her sister left, Sloane was lost and literally had nothing to live for and no one to turn to. I'm sure the whole world falling apart didn't help either.Although I greatly enjoyed most of the characters and Summers' writing style, there were annoying flaws. I hated that this zombie novel barely had any zombies in it at all. They were present through the first part of the book, banging on doors and trying to get in, but they went away when a gas station exploded. Then they never came back. I liked that they were at least an ominous presence, but then they were just absent. Then some of the characters were insufferably annoying and I kind of wish they were made zombie food. They held on to their little petty conflicts and moaned and whined over the dumbest things. Ugh. This aspect was the worst for me and I kept waiting for those characters to get better and unfortunately they never did.This is Not a Test has a great flow and some good characters. If you're looking for zombies, you won't really find them here beyond a few scenes. However, if you like claustrophobic stories about where people are thrown together and become much different after society collapses, then this is the book for you.
This is one of the most depressing books I've ever read. That is why it has a B instead of an A. This Is Not a Test has plenty of action, suspense, and mystery. However, it just made me sad. That being said, I can recognize the quality of this novel, and I am going to do my best to review it objectively. You guys know how I feel about sad books. I just don't enjoy reading them. I'm a pansy in that way. This Is Not a Test is not your typical zombie book. Every single main character in the book (there are six) is well-developed and unique. Instead of having a gore-fest with no character growth, Summers took away a lot of the gore and focused more on the characters, making this a very character driven novel. The plot was pushed forward by each character's will to survive. Our narrator Sloane had no desire to live whatsoever, but the others seemed to want to get out of the zombie apocalypse alive. However, the book mostly focuses on Sloane and how she'd rather let the zombies kill her and turn her into one of them than remain in this world. Sloane's mother is dead, her sister left her, and her father is abusive. The beginning of this story is depressing and intense because the reader is able to fear Sloane's fear of her father. Then the woman knocks on the door and all hell breaks loose, literally. Sloane ends up being one of six surviving teenagers barricaded in the school's gym, which is kind of ironic since she just wanted to die. Throughout the course of the novel, Sloane is forced to repeatedly see the lengths the other people will go through to live. Being a part of these six teenagers deeply changes Sloane, and she is a completely different character in the end. I love when authors have a lot of character growth in a novel. The plot is a bit slow at first, and the zombies are never the main focus. They're always there in the background, and every time you almost forget about the, Summers brings them up again. This subtle addition to the story adds an underlying tension to the narrative that could have been forgotten in the hands of less skilled authors. As the story progresses, the tension builds and things begin to get more intense. Sloane learns a lot of information, some of it she would have preferred not to find out. The pacing toward the end is extremely fast, and I was literally white-knuckling the book and hurriedly turning the pages to see what happened next. The ending itself ties things up nicely. It's not exactly a happy ending, but there is some hope. After a zombie apocalypse, I suppose that's all you can really ask for. Overall, I'd recommend this novel to anyone who loves emotional dystopian/post-apocalyptic books. Summers' writing is fantastic, the plot is captivating, and the characters are realistic and easy to relate to. As long as you're not a pansy like me, you will love this book.
The apocalypse has befallen the world, or at least on the town of Cortege. Zombies have risen, destroyed families, sent survivors scrambling into whatever secure ground they can reach. Sloane Price camps out at the local high school with five other teens, but the zombie invasion is merely an inconvenient detour for her, as she has been planning to end her life soon anyway. Trapped among the tensions and budding connections of a group of six, Sloane is forced to rethink what she believes about the value of life.Courtney Summers¿ trademark sparse yet hard-hitting prose meets the walking dead. Sound like either the next best thing or the stuff that makes you squirm in discomfort? It was a¿strange¿pairing in my opinion, and I¿m still not sure what to think of it, but THIS IS NOT A TEST was a quick and intense that was still hard for me to put down, despite some of my hesitations toward it.There were many moments while I was reading when I stopped, pressed my palms into my eyes, and thought again how much subjective overkill of content this book contained. Sloane is a suicidal teenage girl with an abusive family history and a missing older sister. Sound like the beginning of a YA contemporary novel to you? It did to me too. Which was why I found the choice to make zombies a huge part of the problem in THIS IS NOT A TEST a rather strange one. The zombie premise made the book read sort of like a giant metaphor for not killing yourself and whatnot, and masked¿at least for me¿the subtlety of character development that a sophisticated contemporary YA allows.It¿s hard to not get fed up with the characters in THIS IS NOT A TEST. Sloane has a sort of narration that can dip into stream-of-consciousness at times, which combined with The Zombie Situation gave me headaches sometimes. (There are zombies. I just wanted some direct prose sometimes, y¿know?) Other characters are even less likable, hung up on past events or sniffling at every single new thing that goes wrong. There were large chunks of the book that felt like characters simply shouting at one another, to no avail.On the other hand, even if I wanted to grab some characters by the scruffs of their necks and drop-kick them outside to be at the mercy of the zombies, it¿s hard for me to say whether or not this would be the natural behaviors of a group of six people stuck together in the middle of an apocalyptic situation. So I, as a reader, was torn between my frustration with some of the characters¿ pettiness and the sobering thought that even I would be like those characters in that situation.THIS IS NOT A TEST is not my favorite YA take on zombies, nor is it my favorite of Summers¿ objectively accomplished novels: the strange juxtaposition of the supernatural with a setup that seems more ideal for a contemporary YA story didn¿t quite work for me. However, if you¿re a big fan of Summers¿ writing style, don¿t mind reading about zombies, and are interested in the details and behaviors of human beings in apocalyptic situations, THIS IS NOT A TEST will be just the thing for a dark and stormy night¿s read.
Sloane is on the verge of suicide. Her abusive father looms large in her life, and her one lifeline - her sister Lily - has abandoned her. Even when the zombie apocalypse comes and Sloane finds herself barricading the school with a handful of other teens in a desperate bid for survival, these two facts occupy much of her attention. This is Not a Test is a fascinating study of the internal life following a world gone mad, and it's made even more interesting by the strongly-written, compelling character of Sloane, who wasn't sure she wanted to keep living in the first place. The group dynamics here are interesting and fresh, and Summers does a great job handling the slow ways people in tight quarters come to know each other in the face of such danger. It took me about fifteen pages to know that I wasn't putting this book down til I was done. I read it straight through, and it was wonderful. Summers writes about Sloane's abuse, her co-dependence on her sister, and her desperate feelings of abandonment and helplessness with wonderful skill. Sloane is a character who will break your heart even as you root for her. The ending was pitch-perfect and, though not perfectly resolved, satisfying. This is a zombie book that might well appeal to those not usually into zombies. Highly recommended.
¿I woke up and the last piece of my heart disappeared. I opened my eyes and I felt it go.¿ From an ARC of This Is Not A TestAs soon as I read this line I knew This Is Not A Test would be a book I¿d enjoy. Packed with so much raw emotion. This Is Not A Test is so much more than your run of the mill zombie fiction. This is a story of an abused and abandoned teen searching for a way out. Then the way out is delivered in the form of zombies. ¿We eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner to the soundtrack of our own impending death.¿ From an ARC of This Is Not A TestShe soon finds herself in her old high school with other teens that are trying to survive. Only catch is Sloane wants to die. Her past continues to haunt her as she hides from the undead. This is a tale of survival, but the author touches more on the inner turmoil her characters face. This emotional roller coaster, combined with the anxiety over whether or not the undead would find a way into their safe hold, made for a stay up all night until you reach the last page kind of read. And that last page is stellar! Courtney Summers gives This Is Not A Test an ending it earned and deserved. It was so nice to see an ending worthy of the awesomeness that preceded it. No rushed easy peasy neat little bows here! The angst and emotion continues until the very last page. Loved!I can¿t recommend This Is Not A Test enough. Get it! Read it! You won¿t regret it!
I thought the plot of "This is Not A Test" sounded really great. And it was. The story is about six teenagers who take refuge in the local high school when the world becomes overrun with zombies. I quickly realized that this was not an action story. It is definitely a character driven novel that explores how different characters face this kind of emotional devastation. The story is told from the eyes of Sloane, a teenage girl who has been abandoned by her older sister and the only person who knows what Sloane is going through at home. Sloan is severely depressed and suicidal. When the zombies take over the town, she is hoping that they will get to her and end her misery.I love a good, character focused story. This book should have grabbed me and never let go. I found the book to be nicely written and the characters were each very well fleshed out. After a heart pounding beginning the story quickly slows down its pace. Not a lot happens. The kids can't leave the school as zombies are waiting at every doorway. They have a radio that frequently tells them to seek safety and that this isn't a test, but they have no idea how widespread this disaster is and they don't know if help will ever come. But the school has food and water and they can last there for quite awhile. Most of the book features the teenagers discussing their lives and becoming divided on how to handle their survival. We see how each of the students handles the zombie invasion and how it has personally affected their families. I think the book really lost a lot due to the lack of action. Realistic? Probably. Entertaining? Not so much.What really bothered me most about this book is how bleak it was. There was nothing for these kids to live for. There was no hope. Anytime things looked up for the kids, it immediately went bad again. Sloane being a little mentally off from the beginning does not make a reliable narrator. She starts out depressed and ends up depressed. I finished the book depressed. Maybe "This Is Not A Test" is a deep and dark book but it was just miserable for me. I don't mind a good, sad book but I do mind one that hasn't got a single strand of hope or happiness to it.
I¿ve read two of Courtney Summers¿ books. One I did not like at all and the other was just okay. I have a hard time with unlikeable characters and Summer¿s books are filled with unlikeable characters. I kept hearing really great things about this one, plus it has zombies. So I decided to give it a try. It¿s by far the best book I¿ve read by this author.This Is Not a Test starts out with a bang. The beginning left me reeling and it sets the solemn and dark tone for the rest of the story. Like many reviews have stated, this really isn¿t a zombie book. They are kind of like this unrelenting background noise to the story. The main elements are the kids in the school, how they are dealing¿or not dealing¿with their own issues.Sloan was a very damaged girl. I couldn¿t relate to her, but I understood her position. I liked her. I can¿t really say that about the other characters, except maybe Rhys. The constant fighting between some of the characters really grated on my nerves. That¿s what kept from liking the book more than I did. It was understandable, I guess, but I couldn¿t help being annoyed by it.This is a dark book. It¿s bleak and Courtney Summers doesn¿t hold anything back. It¿s a fast and intense read and I would recommend having something a little more light-hearted for after. Overall, it was good, but I can¿t say that I loved it.
When I think of zombies, I go back to the classic George Romero movies such as Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead. To me, those are the standards that I think most zombie stories should reach for. Those movies helped define this horror sub-genre. What I loved about THIS IS NOT A TEST is that the book holds true to the classic Romero zombie story, yet successfully bends it to make the experience more personal and immediate. Like only good young adult literature can do. The use of first-person perspective drops you into this zombie apocalypse and makes you feel like the world is really coming off its rails. But this story isn¿t so much about zombies, it¿s really about how humans deal with dire circumstances. How some people can gather strength and push forward¿and how others can fall into the abyss. On the surface, the book is about six teens trapped inside their abandoned high school while zombies outside wait to feed on them. And yet, the book goes deeper. Exploring the mindsets of the diverse cast of characters and their struggle to survive. So is this book a carbon-copy of Romero¿s films? I would say¿no. First off, the teen point of view gives the situation a fresh new perspective. And second, how the teen characters judge and react to the situation is different from a group of adults. Third, and I think the most interesting¿is the use of a female protagonist who doesn¿t want to live, which goes against the traditional survivalist heroine found in most horror stories. This choice gives the book a unique perspective that adds to the tension and drama of the entire novel. Like most of Ms. Summer¿s earlier works, this book is filled with delicious tension between all the characters and the writing is crafted in such a way that these characters are capable of doing anything, which keeps the reader on edge. There are plenty of great twists and turns with a quick pace that keeps you turning pages. Out of all Ms. Summers books, THIS IS NOT A TEST is my new favorite. Bottom line¿if George Romero wrote a young adult zombie novel, this would be it.
Everyone be quite. Do you hear that? That is the sound of EPICNESS coming from this book.EPPPPIIIIICCCCCNNNNNEEEEESSSSSSS!Why is this book so epic? Have you ever read a book that is so deadly intense, so descriptive, that your fingers are clinging to the sides of the book. That you don't want to look up, afraid that if you do you will step out of the world that is in your mind. That's it. Seriously, when I started this book I thought, "Cool.Zombies." Not even close. It not just about zombies but the life's that all the characters lived. Deep, dark skeletons just racing to show themselves, each characters is literally fighting their own demon. And that folks makes this story.The plot of this book is so amazing. The reader is thrown into a world that is ravished and survival is crucial. The moments of survival aren't what all in this book. Death. Lots of it. And even moments where you see, if you lost everything anyway, whats to live for? When those moments crept up on me while reading this book, I had to hold back tears. How in the world can Ms. Summer makes something seem so bad into something good? All I can say is that this author is one heck of a writer!This Is Not A Test boils down to an hardcore tale of inconceivable yet realistic story. By far, this is the best story that I have ever read. Its easy to get swept away in all the emotions, adrenaline rush of running, and survival. This truly epic book is thrilling. This Is Not A Test is impressive yet satisfying.