Monday, July 23, 2012

Canadian Spotlight Month: Review - This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers
Series: Standalone
Published: June 19th, 2012
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
323 pages (paperback)
Genre: Young adult horror/apocalyptic
Acquired this book: From the library
{GoodReads || Purchase this book: Book Depository || Amazon}

Synopsis: 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 was my first zombie book. I was a bit wary going in, because to be perfectly honest, I’ve never understood the appeal of zombies. Vampires, werewolves, and other supernatural creatures...I get the appeal there…but zombies? Brainless reanimated rotting corpses who eat human flesh? I don’t get it. But, I’d heard so many amazing things about this book, plus Summers is a Canadian author and I’m spotlighting Canadian authors this month, so I thought I’d give it a try.

So…This is Not a Test is a zombie book. What I didn’t expect was for it to be so much more than a zombie book. This book broke my heart into a million tiny pieces and made me feel like no other book has in a long time. I finished reading it over a week ago, and it’s still on my mind. It made me so emotional that I haven’t been able to complete this review until now because I couldn’t get my thoughts straight.

I want to start with Sloane, the main character. Her thoughts were so honest - almost painfully honest. She was so haunted and tortured, and at times she was just an empty shell going through the motions until she could find a way out of this crazy mixed-up life. She did what she had to do to survive, even when it was horrible and horrific. And even around five other people, she was so alone and so lonely, it made me ache. The guilt and pain and fear she carried with her were almost crippling, and you could feel it in every thought, every action. She resonated with me on such a deep level, and even if you have nothing in common with her, I truly think you can connect with her.

The other characters in the book were just as real - sweet, kind Grace; her twin brother Trace, who wanted someone else to blame for everything that went wrong, and who constantly shot off his mouth before thinking; Cary, who somehow ended up the leader of the group and had to make some of the hardest decisions, and who was as haunted as Sloane in some ways; Harrison, the youngest of the group, who was so full of fear he could hardly function; and Rhys, the voice of reason, the one who tried so hard to be there for Sloane even when she repeatedly pushed him away. Throughout the story, they all made mistakes, they all made sacrifices, and they all had at least one defining moment that took my breath away. 

The dynamics within the group were always interesting. The potential friendships, the secrets and revelations, the personalities coming to light. It was like an in-depth look at human nature. I also really enjoyed the budding romance between Sloane and Rhys - it was something positive, something to hold onto while everything else was going to hell. 

The story itself - the zombie apocalypse - was frighteningly real. We got to see the monotony of waiting around to be saved, the terror of zombies outside the door, the worry of them somehow getting in, and what all those emotions will do to the people who are trapped, waiting to live or die.

Overall, This is Not a Test is a story that will make you feel. Unexpectedly poignant, frighteningly realistic, heartbreaking, and heart stopping, this book will stick with me for a very long time.
Have you read This is Not a Test? What did you think? Are you a zombie fan? Which zombie book should I read next?

This post has been part of the Canadian Spotlight Month. Click the graphic below to check out the schedule and all things Canadian here at Ramblings of a Daydreamer. 


  1. EEP! PERFECT review! I know we've talked about this book and everything it made us both feel, and I really feel as if you captured all of that, girl! If I hadn't already read and loved this one, I'd be convinced to read it after reading this review!

    Molli | Once Upon a Prologue

  2. I just read this last week and I totally loved it, too. Gorgeous writing, great characters and just all around gripping. I read it over the course of 24 hours--I could not put it down. Glad to hear you enjoyed it as well. :)

  3. I'm hoping This is Not a Test will be my first zombie book too! Like you, zombie books don't really catch my eye - but this one sounds fantastic and I've heard such great things about it. It's great to hear it's not just about the paranormals - that there are amazing and complex characters in the book as well, and that the character's emotions and behaviours are as upsetting as the zombie apocalypse.


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