This week, I'll be reviewing This Is Not A Test by Courtney Summers. This Is Not A Test is a book that I've wanted to read since originally published but never found the time to. Needless to say, after all they hype, I was excited to read this one. However, expectations versus reality came into play here. While I certainly liked the story, I also was let down by it. To find out why, continue reading on.
Series: This Is Not A Test #1
Genre: Horror, Zombies, Young Adult
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publication Date: June 19, 2012
Links: Goodreads Amazon
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?
*Light Spoilers Below*
When sixteen year old Sloane Price awakens to find herself stuck in the middle of a Zombie apocalypse things couldn't get much worse. She wanted to die, but not like this. Now Sloane along with five other kids have taken shelter in the only place left, the local high school. While perceived to be safe, the real threat comes from within. Now Sloane must decide is life worth fighting for or is Death the only thing standing in her way of truly being happy.
One of the things I really liked about this book was the resourcefulness of the kids. They knew they had to get the school secure and did. They also took stock of the food straight away and gathered supplies early on from around the building. I liked that they didn't just rely on the strong doors and high windows to keep them safe and that they took the initiative to really make the building as secure as they could with the resources they had. They also did it without fighting with each other and that was nice to see.
Another thing I liked were the Zombies. Sure we don't see much of them but when we do they were actually pretty scary. The tension the Zombies brought to the group was certainly a nice change of pace from them just fighting for Chapters in the High School.
Lastly, I really liked the ending. Well, for the most part anyway. It was great finally seeing some Zombies and having Sloane do something other than mope around all the time. Plus we get to see someone take a crowbar to the face which surprised me considering how gore light the book had been until then.
Now even though I enjoyed This Is Not A Test enough to continue reading it I still had some pretty major issues with the story that ultimately kept me from rating it higher.
First off, I hated Sloane. We get it already, your depressed, life sucks, blah,blah, blah. Guess what? Your sister is a prick. She left you knowing that you'll suffer horrible beatings in her absence and yet she still did it. That's not something a loving sister does. I don't want to go so far as to say I dislike depressive people because I understand real issues exist and yes, Sloane has reasons at least in the beginning for being so. However, this is the Zombie apocalypse people, when it became clear she wasn't snapping out of it, it was time for the others to give her a choice. Either resolve the issues or get the F out of the building. Every single person was suffering but all Sloane cared about was herself. It made her very unlikable for me and I kept praying with every flick of the page that she'd either snap out of it or walk into the night, a willing victim.
Another thing that bugged me was lack of Zombies (although they were great when actually around). The characters felt way too safe and while that is certainly good for them it made for a very boring story for me. I think what makes Zombie books so successful is fear of the unknown. When you take that away, the story can become stale really quick. You can only read about teenagers and their petty problems with each other so long before it becomes tiresome. Trace constantly blaming Cary for his parents death and Sloane moping around in self pity does not a decent Zombie story make.
Lastly, I really wish we had seen more survivors. By the time the students reach the school it seems like either the majority of people had died or were in hiding. While we are introduce to a scant few they certainly didn't stick around long enough to be of any use. In fact, they proved quite the opposite. I'd also have thought they'd find more students or staff hiding in the school. Since we do have a time jump I guess one can assume there might've been but that they either refused entry or disposed of them before we rejoined the group again. However, I tend to think it was neither.
Final ThoughtsAlthough I did enjoy reading This Is Not A Test and feel my purchase was worth it, I can't help but being let down by the story in the end. It's not that I don't like the human element in my Zombie stories, I do, however, I also want some sort of actual threat from the undead to persist consistently in the background and I didn't get that from this story. If it not for the petty arguing among themselves they easily could have remained in that school for awhile as it was secure, had supplies and water. Yet it was infighting not zombies that ultimately did them in and while some might like the drama, for me personally,I was over it and was just hoping for a satisfying enough ending to redeem the story even just a little bit after all that I'd been through with these characters.
With that being said, I'll be rating This Is Not A Test by Courtney Summers ★★★.
*Copy purchased. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated in an which way for providing them.
About the author
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Out of curiosity, Have you read This Is Not A Test?
If yes, Will you be reading the sequel?
What would be the worst part of being trapped in a high school?
Would you travel to a supposed refuge if it meant being with other survivors?
Leave me your answers in the comments below or feel free to tweet me them @Hermyoni
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