This Is Not A Test
By Courtney Summers
My Rating: 4 / 5
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 love reading zombie stories, and this book combined that love with another – YA fiction. The idea of a protagonist who may be suicidal is an interesting choice for a zombie story, but the author made it work for me. Sloane is still dealing with the aftermath of her older sister running away from home and leaving her with their abusive father when the zombie outbreak begins. Although she has banded together with five other students and she is barricaded in the high school with them, she is not as desperate to live as they are. In fact, she is just waiting for the barricades to fall and the undead to enter the school.
I was reminded of another teenagers trapped in a school book, Trapped, but I felt that there may have been a bit more character development in this book. None of the characters felt like caricatures or stereotypes. It was interesting to see how they related to each other while trapped in the school, and of course some of that relating includes anger, frustration, and attraction.
It’s been said in other reviews, and I agree, that the zombies are more of a plot device, and that this book is less about zombies and more about survival, and what people will do when everything falls apart.
I love survival-type stories, and this was a really good one. As a narrator, Sloane was frustrating at times, because I did want her to snap to and fight for survival, but it was also effective because the more I read about her life and her despair at being left behind by her sister, I sympathized. I can’t say I’ve read a survival story before where the narrator doesn’t really want to survive, and I always like to read something a bit new and different from the usual.
I liked the other characters – well, not all of them, but I was still rooting for them all to somehow pull through the nightmare around them. It would be cruel for me to spoil any of the plot and reveal each of their fates (I hope you weren’t expecting every character in a zombie/survival horror story to actually survive), but I recommend this book and suggest that you find out for yourself how it ends for all of them.