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Friday, June 15, 2012

This is Not a Test

This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers
Grade: 4 stars out of 5
Published: June 19, 2012; paperback
Source: ARC from LibaryThing ER

I have a love affair with Courtney Summers’s books. I’m usually strictly a paranormal gal (I mean, have you seen my bookshelf?), but as soon as Courtney Summers’s has a new book I’m on it like as if it were a cupcake—devoured with a every-man-for-themselves attitude. So when Summer’s announced her new book involving zombies I had to read it!

And thank you jebus that these zombies are not the cuddly, happy-go-lucky zombies that’s French kissing some cheerleader/goth dude. No, this is eating-the-flesh-off-your-face zombie.

Oh yeah.

This is Not a Test is about Sloane and a motley set of teenagers trying to survive a zombie apocalypse. Of course, what’s a Summers’s work if there isn’t emotional tension, angst, and drama. A boring one is what that will be.

This is Not a Test is heart pounding, jaw clenching novel that really leaves you hanging off the edge of your seat. (I know, I know, second POV is bad because it makes me sound obnoxious, but truly, this novel will have you on the edge.) While the zombies attack is an essential part of the novel, it is not the main focus. For This is Not a Test is a character driven novel with Sloane being the instigator. It is about living to survive from abandonment. Learning how to breathe even when the room starts to feel small and closing in. Learning to forgive people.

Summers’s draws forth an emotional response from the reader in every chapter. Even with the first person point of view, there’s an attachment and connection to the other characters. Take a deep breath in, and exhale slowly because it’s easily to get wrapped up in the characters. It’s so easy to get caught up in the loneliness and the despair from Sloane. Sometimes the urge to yell at someone is strong, other times tears sting your eye. There were so many times I had to stop reading, close the book, and take a minute to collect myself before I started to bawl. I became so emotionally invested in Sloane that it surprised me. I wanted to follow her tale till the wee rosy-fingered dawn. But I passed out around midnight so instead I dreamed about it. I wanted her live, but I wanted her to want to live even more.

By now you might have noticed my lack of mentioning of the zombies aside from the initial introduction. There’s a reason for that. Courtney Summers writes fantastic contemporary works of fiction. This is Not a Test reads just like a contemp. book with zombies being in the background. The zombies may be the ones that started the book, but the story of Sloane started before that. What the zombies do is make everything much more intense; it kick-starts the adrenaline. That’s not to say there aren’t any zombie fighting and chasing scenes. And that’s not to say what Summers’s wrote about the zombies wasn’t frightening. Because there were and it was. There is more to This is Not a Test than flesh-eating zombies.

The one part of Summers’s novels that frustrates me: the ending. They are typically open-ended and for me, I need to know what happens. Will they make it? To the new safe house? As a couple? Will Sloane continue to want to live? What happens now!?

With Summers’s terse writing and some unforgettable lines, This is Not a Test will haunt you; it’ll stick with you even after you finished reading it. I want to carry this book with me always so I can smack people in the face and demand that they read it. Now!

Cover A-
Absolutely love the blood splatter and the tilt of the model's head.


  1. I would happily read a sequel to This is Not a Test.

    I thought it was amazing how the zombies highlighted Summers' strengths as a contemporary author instead of turning her style into something totally different.

  2. Damon!!!! <3 great review! New follower

    Cierra @ Books Ahoy

  3. I liked the emotional aspect of the story a lot better than the zombie/action aspect. I don't want to say too much - I like how vague the description is, how you don't know in the beginning what is going on with Sloane - but it's so well-done. Because of the sparse style, you don't find out every detail, every reason behind it, but it works. Sloane's story is real - she's not trying to explain anything to us, she's just telling us what's going on, and we get to learn about her life that way. The reader gets just enough information to be invested in the story. With another book, this might have been something I'd criticize, but it's actually something I've come to love about Courtney Summers books.

  4. This book sounds amazing. Zombie reads are awesome. :)

    Thanks for the great review!