This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers [twitter | website]
Publication Date: June 19, 2012
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
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.
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.
Check out these reviews of This is Not a Test