Title: This is Not a Test
Author: Courtney Summers
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
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 probably won’t be a very eloquent or long review because all I can really say about this book was that it packed an emotional punch and left me very sad and very… affected, I guess. See how I can’t really think to articulate what I what I think?
First, I’ll address my genre categorizing. OK, this book is about zombies. It’s from Courtney Summers, queen of contemporary issue books, but this book is about zombies. Yet, it’s a lot more than that. Take out the zombies and it could still work. Well, it wouldn’t work quite as well, but zombies aren’t the main focus of this book. That honor belongs to the characters themselves and how damaged and broken they all are. It’s their story, and I think that qualifies it as a contemporary book as well as one about zombies. Seriously, if you want to read a book about zombies that isn’t just about zombies, this is your choice.
Unless you don’t like sad books. Because this book is sad. It’s a zombie book and a bit of an end-of-the-world-esque book, so it’s definitely not going to be happy. There are dead people. Quite a bit, actually. Some are zombies but others are characters we actually know, which makes it sad. Of course, dead people in general make me sad, so even just reading about the formerly-alive-but-now-the-“living”-dead made me sad. Seriously, not a book to read if you don’t want to be sad. If you’re looking for a light and fun book, this is not it.
The reason I didn’t give this book five stars is because: 1) It’s so sad! It’s an amazing book, but it’s so heartbreaking and impossible to really “love” it. I don’t love it, but it definitelly affected me and is memorable and made me think, which is why it has such a high rating. And, 2) Like other Summers books, I feel like the characters aren’t always fleshed out completely. And no, that’s not a zombie joke, just me rambling. Summers’ writing tends to be fairly sparse, and while this was much longer than her previous two books (I haven’t read her first book so I don’t know how long it was, but her other two were in the mid- and lower-200 range while this book was over 300), it still had that sparse feeling for me. Sometimes it was frustrating how little the writing was giving me. Sure, it’s better than a huge infodump at the beginning, but there were still moments when I just wanted more.
OK, maybe this wasn’t quite short, but it’s probably quite disjointed. That’s because this book just made me feel plenty of different things and even now, about two months later (I know, I’m behind on reviews), I’m still not quite sure what to make of it. Just trust me when I saw that this is an emotional rollercoaster that you should read.