This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers
Author: Courtney Summers
Release Date: June 19, 2012
Dates Read: July 14-15, 2012
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?
This Is Not a Test is in a word, intense. Suspenseful and angst-ridden, the novel is a story of a girl whose life has totally fallen apart. Her dad beats her, mercilessly and without shame. She and her older sister made plans all their lives to escape together, make a new life somewhere different, somewhere where they could live without fear. But Lily couldn’t wait, and left Sloane to fend for herself six months ago. Things got worse when she left. Sloane is desperate to end it all, but her plan falls through when she discovers that Lily took her sleeping pills with her. Shortly thereafter, civilized society collapse around her. The dead rise and attack the living. They are driven by hunger, and spread their infection with a single bite. Shortly after this fresh chaos, Sloane ends up with a group of five of her peers in their old high school, empty but fortifiable. But she’s different than them. They are desperate to continue living.
Summers has created a novel that is as much a story about the dangers of abuse, vulnerability, and dependency on others as it is about the dangers of human nature when it is pushed to the limit. Desperation and fear lead to in-fighting similar to The Lord of the Flies. When your survival depends on others, how do you know that you aren’t just expendable in their eyes? When surviving together means spending endless time waiting together, how do you deal? The backdrop of a zombie apocalypse lends the perfect amount of terror and tension for this story to work as well as it does. I’d recommend it to fans of angst, zombies, survival tension, and stories about youth trying to find their way. With hints of The Breakfast Club, Lord of the Flies, Dawn of the Dead and The Walking Dead, a lot of people should find something they like about this book.