Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Release Date: June 19th, 2012
Genre: Young Adult, Post-Apocalyptic
FTC: As always, I received this book in exchange for my honest opinion.
Blurb: 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 wantto 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?
Review: The simple way to describe This is Not a Test is to say it’s a book about 6 teenagers, trapped in a school that are trying to survive amidst a zombie outbreak. But it is so much more than that. This is a book that is more about the internal conflict within the characters than the action going on around them. Not that that action doesn’t play a part in the book, because it does. It just is not the focal point. And that’s what really sets this story apart from others in the same genre.
I really liked This is Not a Test . I wasn’t blown away like some others were, but I did enjoy it quite a bit. One issue that kept me from enjoying it as much as I could have? I didn’t care for the ending. I just felt it ended too insubstantially for me. I wanted more. I’m not saying I wanted a happy ending, but I could have used some more answers. It just kind of stopped. And I hate books that just kind of stop. To me, sometimes it feels like the author doesn’t know how to write a proper ending. And I know this is a total personal preference of mine, but those are the types of book endings I usually find myself getting angry over. I wasn’t angry here, just more disappointed.
As for the characterizations, I thought Sloane was amazingly written. For someone I have nothing in common with, it was sure easy to relate with her and commiserate. I always felt like I could understand where Sloane was coming from, even when I really should not have been able to. She had a distinct voice that was unforgettable and it carried throughout the book and it truly made her jump right off the page. The things she felt were easy for me to feel. The other characters felt flat to me. Don’t get me wrong, Sloane’s situation had my emotions in knots, but I didn’t care for the rest of the characters as much as I felt I could have. There were scenes where I should have been holding my breath because they were so suspenseful and I just didn’t feel that much. It is very possible that because Sloane WAS so well developed, she made the other characters seem significant. Or it just could be that the depth wasn’t there. I haven’t fully decided yet.
The one thing that DID blow me away about This is Not a Test was the writing style. And I think this is a running thing with Courtney Summer’s books. She has a distinct voice and way with words that really sets her apart from other writers. She’s not a very wordy writer, so she goes for maximum impact in as few words as possible. And it really works. I really felt the hopelessness and claustrophobic tone in the book as I was reading. There were times when my heart was in my throat. And then on top of everything, you have a girl who was planning on killing herself before the zombies showed up. So throughout the book, she is basically waiting for the right time to take herself out of the world and throw herself to the zombies. She thinks there is nothing worth living for. Her life was shit before the zombie outbreak and it just went from bad to worse. This book was crazy.
So yeah. It didn’t blow me away, but it did totally work for me. I loved this book, and as a stand alone (which is rare right now), I think it will be a memorable book. The author managed to write a zombie novel that went way deeper than most do. There were some serious issues (suicide and physical abuse) that were touched on in this novel. It’s definitely riveting and hard to put down. And I really cannot wait to read the author’s other books.