by Courtney Summers
Series: This is Not a Test #1
Published by: St. Martin
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?
I have not read any of Courtney Summers’ previous novels but after devouring, This is Not A Test, I certainly plan too. This YA horror takes us on a riveting journey as a zombie outbreak occurs. She shares with us the tale of six students who seek shelter in their high school. Its the Breakfast Club meets Zombie apocalypse and I totally loved it.
It begins when we meet Sloan Price. She is sitting in her bathroom contemplating suicide, when her father orders her to breakfast. We immediately get a sense that something is seriously wrong with this family, as Sloane is overly fearful of her father. Suddenly there is someone pounding at the front door, screaming and that’s when all hell breaks loose. Zombies are attacking. We next meet up with her, as she is helping to barricade the school. Here we meet the other characters who will ride out this nightmare together. Summers’ delivers an eerie tale, giveing us an intense look at the effects of the outbreak on individuals and the group as a whole. Some scenes reminded me of Lord of the Flies and kept me completely immersed in the tale. From the first page to the last I was spellbound. I became emotionally invested in the characters and the outcome.
The characters in This is Not a Test are beautifully fleshed out. Each is damaged or fragile due to their own experiences before entering the school. They have spent almost seven days together, traveling what would have been a twenty-minute journey across town to reach the school. There is tension from the get go; as some blame others for losses they are experiencing. Sloan at first just observes. She doesn’t want to be here; she was prepared to die till the group found her. I wanted to hug Sloan for the suffering she has experienced and at the same time I admired her. We get to see her emerge, grow and feel. The other characters all have different personalities and problems and my emotions towards them were all over the place. It was similar to the dynamics of the Breakfast Club characters and I loved getting to know them. I laughed, cried and was scared right along with them. I loved each and every characters.
While we don’t see a whole lot of the zombies in Summers’ world, we know they are there and the fear is real. Imagine being totally cut off from society with an enemy banging at your door. Not really knowing the people who are with you. Imagine trying to work as a team but in the back of your mind wondering if they will have your back. She utilizes this to bring us a captivating look at human’s in a stressful situation and nails it! The tale was beautifully paced, with scenes that captured all of my emotions. The last part of the book was terrifying and had my heart racing as I moved towards the dramatic conclusion. I love when the tale becomes real and the characters come alive. This is why I love to read and this is the high I chase in my addition to reading.
I highly recommend This Is Not A Test to fans of horror, suspense and character driven novels. Summers grabs you at page one and holds you long after the tale has ended. This novel is currently on my top ten list for 2012. I have added Summer’s to my author list and hope to read some of her other works soon.
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