Review: This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers
Published June 19th 2012 by St. Martin’s Griffin
ARC received through Netgalley
I love this book. It delves into the mind of someone who is depressed and suicidal without reserve, yet it doesn’t try to shock you. It just describes it. This is just how one seventeen-year-old girl thinks. And it has zombies. Just saying.
When the world comes to an end and people start eating each other, Sloane thinks this will be the end for her as well. Taking her own life didn’t work – maybe the undead will finish the job. But then she survives, and with her some other kids from her school. Together they hide out in the school auditorium, waiting for help to come. Will Sloane succeed in her plans of leaving this life behind, and how far should she endanger the others?
This is Not a Test isn’t about creating empathy for Sloane. It doesn’t say “hey, suicide is a valid life decision!”. It’s about showing how circumstances can push someone until that person can’t see any other way to keep going but by ending it. It’s about telling what goes on in someone’s head. I absolutely loved that This is Not a Test never becomes preachy. It never tells you how you should feel and what you should do – but instead shows how this girl copes with her desperation.
That doesn’t mean Sloane is very likeable. She is very much obsessed with her own death, and doesn’t care for anything else any more. Only throughout the story do we learn her real personality, the other sides to her. We slowly discover how she has been deceived, how she has been pushed away from other people until she had absolutely no one left. It just really wasn’t her fault in any way.
For a zombie book, this is extremely low on zombie action. I think there are about three zombie scenes in the entire book. In the remainder there is only the constant awareness that they’re out there, and that they can get in at any moment. They could all die in any moment. But the thing is, there are days and days in which they don’t. The strength of This is Not a Test lies in the fact that it shows how extremely boring a zombie apocalypse can be for survivors, without being boring in itself through character development.
This is Not a Test is an absolutely wonderful book, but one you have to be ready for, one you need to be in the mood for. I wouldn’t recommend this book for younger teens without parental guidance since it delves into topics as severe physical abuse and depression. But if you decide to take the leap and read this book, I can assure you it will stay with you.
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?
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