Title: This is Not a Test
Series: This is Not a Test, #1
Author: Courtney Summers
Genre: YA, Dystopian, Horror
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Release Date: June 19th, 2012
Length: 326 pages | 6 hours 58 minutes
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 read This is Not a Test in one sitting (when I ought to have been sleeping). That tells you how fast-paced and engrossing it is. It’s what I’d consider to be a realistic look at the zombie apocalypse. Six teens, thrown together by chance, trying to survive and figure out their next move…while under so much pressure, guilt, depression, and fear that they’re incapable of working together as a team. Truly, this is how it would go. Human beings are just too fractious under pressure and fear for anything else.
As a narrator, Sloane is not a likable character. She’s rather fatalistic and has a pretty crummy life even before the fall of humanity. She doesn’t make connections with others, and she comes across as standoffish and self-isolating. So right away the narrative scope is interesting. The choices made by characters throughout the novel are pretty heartbreaking. I didn’t tear up or anything, but I really appreciate the irony and the surprises that Summers threw into it.
The end is a bit of a cliffhanger- emotionally poignant but somewhat unresolved. However, there’s a #1.5 in the series, and hopefully a #2 in the series at some point. And I will read both. Probably in one sitting again. Aside from the ridiculously pretentious names (which makes me think the town is 99% white folks, and these kids were born in the early 90s when it was en vogue to name your baby esoteric things), this book was really intriguing. I recommend it for fans of zombies, YA dystopian, and unreliable narrators.