25 June 2012

This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

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?

I have a lot of mixed feelings about this book. In a lot of ways this book reminded me of “Life as We Knew It” by Susan Beth Pfeffer. The end of the world and bleak outlook certainly helped. That’s not really a bonus for me, though, because I really can’t get books like “Life as We Knew It”. I have difficulty with books where I can’t see the characters having an out, where I know that after the book their life will only get more difficult until they die. That made this book a rather hard read for me.

In other ways, though, there was a lot to like about this book. Sloane is a good narrator. I had a hard time putting myself in her place because of her experiences with abuse and her sister, but it did allow me to empathize a lot with her and her position. The way the book is written, with a lot of introspection and inner monologue, makes it easy to feel for Sloane. I even understand and feel for her when she decides to commit suicide. The language in the book is very poetic and beautiful, and there is little action to break up the pace, which actually seems like a good thing in this book. Add in that Summers is not careful with her characters, they can get dirty and say things people won’t like and get hurt and die and you get a pretty good character-driven story. Was it enough for me to get over my dislike of grim outlook books? Honestly, I’m still not sure. You can find out for yourself, though. Here’s a free excerpt of the book:


A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for free in exchange for an unbiased review.

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