This Is Not a Test by Cortney Summers Review

Monday, May 21, 2012

Title: This Is Not a Test
Author: Courtney Summers
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publish Date: June 19, 2012
Genre: YA, Dystopian
Pages: 320
Source: Publisher
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?
It’s the end of the world. Sloane knows it. Hell, everyone knows it. While the zombie apocalypse rages on outside the walls of the high school in which she and the others have taken shelter, Sloane is desperately clinging to some semblance of a reason as to why exactly she sound go on with this mess they all live in. Everyone seems to be holding on to the life they once had, but Sloane has nothing to hold on to. What’s more, she doesn’t want to. The disease that consumes their former selves and brings them back as monsters almost seems like a mercy to her now. But the world is falling apart outside the school, and as the walls continue to crumble and humanity starts to dwindle, Sloane has to find a reason to continue or be lost forever.

This is not my first novel from Courtney Summers, and I have to say that, as before, her impeccable writing style simply steals the show in her newest novel, This Is Not a Test. I went into this novel unsure of what to expect because I know of the human approach she takes to the novels she writes. She has the innate ability to connect on a truly harmonious emotional novel with her characters, making them speak to the reader not in words, but rather through complex emotions and interactions with others throughout the story. This Is Not a Test is a seamless, heart-wrenching rollercoaster ride of emotion and distress from start to finish. It is never cloying, always powerful and completely connects the reader to both the internal and external struggles throughout the entire novel.

In terms of zombie novels, kids, I’m going to have to call This Is Not a Test “zombie-lite.” Yes, there are zombies, and yes, this is the end of the world as all the characters know it. However, the zombies are not in the foreground of the novel. Rather, the zombies are almost the backdrop and the apocalyptic vibe simply fuels and expands upon the rich, evocative internal struggles that play out through Sloane and her supporting cast throughout the novel. Sloane’s struggle is the true nature of the story and, frankly, it seems as though it is the main purpose. As readers, we’re given access not only to a desolate and bleak world, but the psyche of a broken, battered and utterly hopeless girl simply searching for some reason to want to live. While the secondary characters live in a constant state of unending fear and terror for their demise, Sloane very nearly welcomes it, and her internal struggle to fight the feeling is tangible, painful and extraordinarily real. One would think that in a novel where a half-dozen teens are stranded in a school fighting the zombie apocalypse there would be extreme angst. There is – don’t get me wrong. This angst, however, is real and painful. It’s not your normal teenage angst. Because This Is Not a Test is so very dark and bleak, hope is a beacon, and it’s that little sliver of hope for redemption both within Sloane and for the characters, as a whole, that keeps us riveted throughout.

I’ll be honest, I adored This Is Not a Test, though I really wish there were more zombies! I’m a zombie fiend! I understand the backdrop though, and I respect the creative license in that regard. I give this one a 4.5 out of 5, and I highly recommend it to all fans of YA, especially those who enjoy post-apocalyptic, dystopian and contemporary novels.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.


  1. Dying to read this one, thought I've yet to read a Summer's novel. Glad you liked it so much, most people seem to!

  2. I really want to read this! Great review. :D

  3. What a positive review - i'm intrigued. would be great if you can post a short paragraph from the book next time, so I dont have to go all the way to google books to search if they have a few pages available to preview :)

    Dee, from  e-Volving Books

  4. "She has the innate ability to connect on a truly harmonious emotional novel with her characters, making them speak to the reader not in words, but rather through complex emotions and interactions with others throughout the story." -- completely agree and very nicely said. 

    I've been a bit worried about this one just because it seems very different from her other books, so I'm really glad to read such a positive review. Sloane sounds like a complex heroine!

  5. I thought it was going to be strange, too, but it's not so much about the paranormal beings - rather using them as a bleak backdrop for a fantastic character journey!

  6. I think you'll really like it if you know what to expect going in!

  7. She's a powerfully emotional writer. It's storytelling at its best :)

  8. I loved this review, Melissa! and I do prefer the stories where zombies are a background, it makes it all so much more interesting :) Looking forward to reading this book for myself!

  9. Thank you! It was a great book - I think you'll really like it :)

  10. I tend to love the post-apocalyptic genre, and I'm always up for some zombies! Glad you liked this one, Melissa. I've never read Courtney Summers before, but I've heard a lot of great things! 

  11. Thank you for the review. I'm going to be getting a finished copy of this book soon and I didn't know what to expect. Great to hear it didn't disappoint!

  12. hehe! Your last comment sold me!! I'm also not a Zombie Fan, but this one ... sound actually great!! 

  13. I love Courtney Summers' other books, so I definitely need to try this one! So glad to hear you liked it as much as her others.

  14. Great, great review! I wholeheartedly agree that it's 'zombie-light'. Even though there are zombies, I found I didn't care about them nearly as much as I did the people. :)

  15. Emotional novel rock. Especially character driven ones. This sounds like a great book. I'll have to check it out when it's published ^_^ 

  16. I wasn't going to read this one because frankly the cover creeped me out.  But after reading your review I have more of an understanding about what it is like.  I definitely want to read it now.  I decided to feature this review in this week's Harley Bear Post (my blog's e-newspaper)

  17. I'm still undecided on the zombie-centric books. I can accept the undead in the form of fangs, ghosts, ghouls, whatever-- but zombies?

    I have to admit though, it's getting hard to resist! This sounds delicious mostly because of the internal struggle-- love to see characters face their base instincts! 

    Anyway, great review! 

  18. I liked this book too. But some things bothered me. I thought there was way too much bad language. Not that people don't swear and teens don't swear or I'm a prude, but it just struck me the wrong way. I also wish there had been more zombies too and I wish the characters had experienced more of what was happening outside the school. I don't understand what you mean by creative license? But the ending! I was like wait, what just happened?


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