Book Review: This Is Not A Test

Title/Author:  This Is Not A Test by Courtney Summers

Genre:  Young Adult, Horror, Science Fiction, Post-Apocalyptic, Zombies

Published:  June 19th, 2012 by St. Martin’s Griffin

Paperback, 323 pages

How I Got This Book:  Checked it out from the library

Why I Picked It Up?:  Fantastic reviews + my zombie book kick = a must read for me!

Book Jacket 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 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?”

My Review of this Work:

This Is Not A Test is a YA post-zombie apocalypse novel that starts out like any other zombie apocalypse scenario.  A girl is eating breakfast when all hell breaks loose outside.  Craziness occurs, people die, and the next thing you know you find a group of teenagers making their way into their beloved school, trying to survive the horrors that await them outside those walls.  The dead are hungry.

Courtney Summers’ novel is a unique take on a zombie book.  While there are zombies looming around every corner, the meat of the story is the psychological toll surviving a zombie apocalypse takes on these teenagers.  Each of the remaining teens has a unique story and his own set of psychological issues to deal with, all while trying not to be eaten by the ravenous zombies looking for their next meal.

Having Sloane as the narrator creates such a brilliant dynamic in terms of narrative style.  She is what you would consider an unreliable narrator because she struggles with her self-value and self-preservation.  Because of the world she has found herself in, living in her high school with five other teenagers, Sloane has lost her will to live.  So to hear her voice tell this story added such an extra layer of psychological development to this very delicate yet powerful character.  I feel like it this story was told in any other narrative style (third person, another narrator), this novel would not have been nearly as fantastic as it is.  Sloane’s narration completely makes this novel the brilliant story that This Is Not A Test has turned out to be.

Why I think I loved this novel so much?  This story is so much more than a “we have to survive the zombies” story.  Yes, there is zombie action, which is what you look for in a zombie novel.  But This Is Not A Test goes above and beyond that–it is a story about guilt, about acceptance, about fear (and not about the zombies).  I think that is why I find myself struggling to really analyze this book for you guys.  I think that this novel is one of those novels that you will either love or feel indifferent towards, and anything that I have to say past what I have already said will be obsolete to you.  And so, I encourage you to see for yourself the amazement and brilliance that I found in this novel.

My Bookshelf Rating:

A Top Shelf Book!

All of the raving reviews you have probably seen about this book…BELIEVE THEM!  This book is a fantastic example of brilliant narrative voice in a post zombie-apocalypse world.  As much a psychological thriller as a horror thriller, this novel has both the zombie fear as well as the fear of surviving in a world over-run by zombies.  A story told from a very unreliable, slightly unbalanced narrator, This Is Not A Test is a YA zombie novel that stands out from the rest!  It is a good as it gets!



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