Sunday, August 18, 2013

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 certainly not your typical zombie novel. Yes, you get all of the drama that you normally would get when reading about a group of people who are thrust together, trying to survive a zombie apocalypse, but this book is so much more than that. Rather than just about surviving an apocalypse, the main character in This Is Not A Test, Sloan Price, is just trying to cope with being alive.

Sloan grew up in a broken home. After her mother passed away, Sloan and her older sister, Lily, were left in the care of their physically and mentally abusive father. The story starts with Sloan wanting to commit suicide after Lily runs away, leaving her alone with their dad. Her initial plan falls through when she realizes that her sister must have taken the sleeping pills with her, and soon enough, zombies make their appearance in the story, leaving Sloan to put her suicidal plans on hiatus.

Sure, Sloan constantly thinks about letting the zombies eat her, but since she ends up with a group of other kids who end up barricading themselves in the high school, she has a hard time deciding how to do it, as she doesn't want to create problems for anyone else by dying. She chooses instead to hold off until the moment is right.

I'm normally used to reading zombie novels about surviving zombies, so to read one in which the main character is just trying to survive the pain of being left behind by her sister is highly unique to me. In this novel, the zombies were secondary. The writing was excellent, though I admit that I did find myself highly annoyed by many of the characters (mainly Sloan.) They had such vastly different personalities that it seems they were purposely written that way to represent the various high school stereotypes - the stoner, the class president, the nerd, the jock, the bad boy, and the loner. It was like a zombified version of The Breakfast Club.

There were a few moments when the pacing of the novel slowed a bit, but the plot always managed to hold my interest. I also really liked how Sloan's internal struggles were written out. This was my first Courtney Summers novel, and although it's her only zombie novel, it piqued my interest enough that I may end up checking out her other books in the future. 4/5 Stars!



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