Magan: This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

courtney summers book this is not a test reviewThis is Not a Test by Courtney Summers [twitter | website]
Publication Date: June 19, 2012
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Pages: 320
Target Audience: Young Adult
Format read: E-galley received from NetGalley
Why I read it: Oh, I only love everything written by Courtney Summers.

Summary: Sloane finds herself locked in her high school with five other students, hiding from the zombies that are lurking outside. One bite from a zombie can end a life and transform the person into a zombie. Sadly, Sloane doesn’t find that appalling. She’s got demons of her own she’s trying to run from, and death doesn’t seem like such a bad idea.

If you had asked me at the beginning of last year if I would read a book with zombies, my response probably would have been a firm, “No.” Here we are in 2012 and I’ve gone all wild and crazy and read about zombies.

The reason?

Simply because Courtney Summers wrote This is Not a Test. She’s one of my most favorite contemporary writers; I had a Courtney Summers love fest at the end of last year and read Some Girls Are, Cracked Up to Be, and Fall for Anything. You might be wondering how a contemporary fiction author could write something about zombies. You see, this story really goes much deeper than zombies.

Sloane is our main character; on the day chaos ensues and the zombies begin taking over the world, she had already planned to die. Her sister abandoned her; Lily left town without so much as a backward glance and Sloane has been stuck in her own hell living with an extremely abusive father. She has missed weeks of school after the last beating. She had already written out her suicide note and tucked it in her pocket. Fast forward several hours. She finds herself barricaded in her high school with five other survivors, students from her school.

Are you wondering what the outcome of Sloane’s story will be? I definitely was the entire time I was reading  This is Not a Test. I was chatting with Estelle when I was about mid-way through the book; she asked me how it was. This was my response to her, “Reading about zombies is really interesting, but I’m way more invested in what is happening with the characters.”

Summers’ characterization and ability to make me connect with the stories she writes is unbelievable. The story was about zombies, yes, but ultimately, it was about fighting for your life. Sloane had barricades built all around her. No one knew her secrets. She didn’t know how to escape her hell. While my adrenaline was pumping and I was nervous for their lives, I was so concerned with the well-being of Sloane. Only Courtney Summers could take a story about zombies and add a contemporary spin.

Of course having a kind and caring boy want to connect with Sloane didn’t hurt either. Rhys was that guy; he was nice and protective. He knew there was more to Sloane than she let on (she was very standoffish and didn’t care about any of the other people). He wasn’t pushy but he encouraged Sloane to make plans and move forward. He had his own secret that no one else knew. In fact, each of the other characters was struggling with some emotion, action, or event that happened in their lives. There was a major “WOAH, WHAT JUST HAPPENED?” moment for me when things clicked and fell into place.

Maybe you’re not thinking this is for you. Maybe you’re turned off by the zombies. I encourage you to give it a try; it is definitely a book that is outside my normal comfort zone. I have so much faith in Summers’ writing, though. She won’t let you down, and I guarantee you’ll be thinking about This is Not a Test days after you’ve turned the final page.

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12 thoughts on “Magan: This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

  1. Christina (A Reader of Fictions) says:

    In my opinion, what made this such a good, unique zombie novel was that it wasn’t about the zombies. Not really. The book is all about Sloane’s internal struggle. She’s set in a place where dying would be so easy, and then has to stay alive. I wonder if Summers chose zombies because then the method of death would be being eaten up by other people. This seems like a metaphor for the awful way Sloane has been abused all of her life. People are the monsters.

    This book was so painful to read, but it has really stuck with me. Summers blew me away, and I now need to read all of her other books.

  2. elena says:

    I’m not exactly a fan of zombies but I know my co-blogger is really looking forward to this book! I’ve heard SUCH good things about Courtney Summers’ contemp books and they’ve been on my TBR for awhile. I’m glad that she pulled of zombies so well and made you so invested in the characters. The last paragraph of your review gave the nudge I need to give this one a shot when it comes out!

  3. Melissa @ i swim for oceans says:

    I’ve got this one coming up on my TBR in the next week, and I’m SO excited to see you enjoyed it! This is my cup of tea, so it will be harder to please me, but I’m intrigued, and I certainly hope it does!

    Wonderful thoughts and review 🙂

  4. Jasmine Rose says:

    I seriously cannot wait to read this one. I love zombies! And I’m looking forward to another good zombie book like Carrie Ryan’s series. If you haven’t read The Forest of Hands and Teeth, you should definitely give it a try. I bawled my eyes out and there’s actually not much brain eating or anything. They’re all really emotional books :]

  5. Lena says:

    I am SO jealous of you right now. HUGE Courtney Summers fan here. I’m so glad you loved the book. Makes me even more excited.

    And I agree with Jess. Carrie Ryan’s books are fantastic. Super, super sad (tissues sad), but fabulous.


  6. Brian B says:

    “Reading about zombies is really interesting, but I’m way more invested in what is happening with the characters.” Absolutely! I have a friend who is currently writing a zombie young adult fiction, and in reading the early chapters have discussed this with her every time. Well put.

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