This Is Not a Test
Release Date: 6/19/12
Synopsis from goodreads.com:
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 thoughts on the book:
This is one of the most depressing books I've ever read. That is why it has a B instead of an A. This Is Not a Test has plenty of action, suspense, and mystery. However, it just made me sad. That being said, I can recognize the quality of this novel, and I am going to do my best to review it objectively. You guys know how I feel about sad books. I just don't enjoy reading them. I'm a pansy in that way.
This Is Not a Test is not your typical zombie book. Every single main character in the book (there are six) is well-developed and unique. Instead of having a gore-fest with no character growth, Summers took away a lot of the gore and focused more on the characters, making this a very character driven novel. The plot was pushed forward by each character's will to survive. Our narrator Sloane had no desire to live whatsoever, but the others seemed to want to get out of the zombie apocalypse alive. However, the book mostly focuses on Sloane and how she'd rather let the zombies kill her and turn her into one of them than remain in this world.
Sloane's mother is dead, her sister left her, and her father is abusive. The beginning of this story is depressing and intense because the reader is able to fear Sloane's fear of her father. Then the woman knocks on the door and all hell breaks loose, literally. Sloane ends up being one of six surviving teenagers barricaded in the school's gym, which is kind of ironic since she just wanted to die. Throughout the course of the novel, Sloane is forced to repeatedly see the lengths the other people will go through to live. Being a part of these six teenagers deeply changes Sloane, and she is a completely different character in the end. I love when authors have a lot of character growth in a novel.
The plot is a bit slow at first, and the zombies are never the main focus. They're always there in the background, and every time you almost forget about the, Summers brings them up again. This subtle addition to the story adds an underlying tension to the narrative that could have been forgotten in the hands of less skilled authors. As the story progresses, the tension builds and things begin to get more intense. Sloane learns a lot of information, some of it she would have preferred not to find out. The pacing toward the end is extremely fast, and I was literally white-knuckling the book and hurriedly turning the pages to see what happened next. The ending itself ties things up nicely. It's not exactly a happy ending, but there is some hope. After a zombie apocalypse, I suppose that's all you can really ask for.
Overall, I'd recommend this novel to anyone who loves emotional dystopian/post-apocalyptic books. Summers' writing is fantastic, the plot is captivating, and the characters are realistic and easy to relate to. As long as you're not a pansy like me, you will love this book.
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