Book Review: This Is Not A Test

This Is Not A Test CoverBook: This Is Not A Test by Courtney Summers, narrated by Stephanie Cannon

Published December 2012 by AudioGO Ltd|Run Time: 6 hours, 58 minutes

Where I Got: Audible!

Series: None

Genre: YA Post-Apocalyptic/Zombies

Goodreads|You Can Follow Courtney Summers On Twitter or Facebook

Goodreads Summary: 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 one of the more interesting post-apocalyptic books I’ve read. There is some pretty typical zombie apocalypse stuff, but there are also a few elements that I wasn’t expecting.

For one thing, there are 6 students who are holed up in their high school.  Not a lot of time has passed since their arrival at the school and when things started happening, so they’re good on supplies for a while.  They have water and shelter, and they’re actually pretty safe at the school.  There’s no need for them to leave the relative safety of the school, so they’re not going out on supply runs or anything like that. They’re waiting to be rescued, and eventually decide to go to the closest safe zone. The only thing they can do is run, and they use whatever they can as weapons.  Their only gun is a last resort.  They don’t always get along, and there are major trust issues. Also, they spend a lot of time just wandering around the school or hanging out.  As weird as the hanging out seems, there really isn’t a lot for them to do once they were set up with things.

But all of that is why it’s so interesting.  They’re just a bunch of teens trying to survive.  They’re not automatically a bunch of weapon-wielding bad-asses who want to kick some zombie butt.  The events of the book take place over a relatively short period of time, and it’s hard for them.  They all have their issues: some ignore them, but it’s something they have to face while holed up in the school.  Personalities clash, and things aren’t peachy just because they’re pretty safe in their school.  They’re dealing with everything that’s happened, and what could happen.

Sloane is another reason why This Is Not A Test is so interesting.  She has no desire to stay alive or survive in a world where things have gone to hell in a handbasket.  Which is a very understandable reaction, considering everything that has happened to her. She did seem to have the teensiest bit of hope at the end, but I felt like her reaction to what was going on was pretty realistic.  I felt for her so much, but I understood completely why she had no will to live.

Zombies do make very random appearances throughout the book.  But This Is Not A Test is about more than the zombie apocalypse.  It’s about surviving and how to deal with it.  It’s more about the characters and how things can change so fast, and not about the event itself. When the zombies did make an appearance, you knew what was going on, and it was always a great reminder of what was going on. Because they don’t venture out very much, you don’t get a picture of what’s going on and if there are other survivors.

Actually, all of their zombie interactions are really unsettling.  Summers doesn’t go overboard with it, and she works them in so well that it’s creepy and a little terrifying.  you know they’re there, hovering in the background, and while it doesn’t seem like they’re a threat, they also remind you of their presence at the right times.  Summers really knew when to bring them in.

I listened to This Is Not A Test, and it felt so much more creepy and intense listening to it.  Also: Stephanie Cannon did an excellent job narrating, and I felt like she was the perfect choice for Sloane.

Final Thoughts: I didn’t love This Is Not A Test, but I really enjoyed it.  Well, as much as you can enjoy a book like this.  It’s definitely different than a lot of zombie books out there, and I liked how different it was.  This Is Not A Test gets 4 stars.

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