Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Review: This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

Title: This Is Not a Test 
Author: Courtney Summers 
Release Date: June 19, 2012
Source: Local Library  

My Rating: fullfullhalfBlankBlank
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? (taken from
So, I picked this book up with extremely high expectations. Many reviewers whom I respect and often turn to for recommendations had nothing but praise for this post-apocalyptic novel. I also recently caught up on the television series The Walking Dead and was in search of another zombie fix. However, I was disappointed by the story I found in these blood-splattered pages (no joke, there are droplets of ink-colored blood on some chapters, which is pretty awesome and a little misleading). 

One of my main problems with the book was Sloane. Yes, it's an intriguing idea to make a protagonist of a survival novel suicidal, but it also doesn't make much sense to me. Isn't it a bit backwards? If someone really wants to give up as much as Sloane supposedly does, then it's easy to die in a world overridden with human-devouring corpses. Just die already if you're so willing to give up. If not, then fight. Be stronger. I don't know why, but her indecision annoyed me to no end. It also made it difficult for me to relate to her. If zombies were about to rip me limb from limb, I'm pretty sure I'd run for my life and fight like heck, not lay down and give up. 

Another major problem was the setting. At first, I thought it would be fascinating to read a book set entirely in an abandoned high school. Then I realized the flaw in that thinking- six characters locked in one building with no way out leads to utter boredom. A substantial chunk of the novel centers around the characters fretting about their futures and each other. I thirsted for action and entertaining plot development. 

Now, I have to give credit where credit is due. The concept of surviving indefinitely in a high school is definitely an interesting one. I'm not going to lie- as I read this book, I definitely decided which room in my high school would function as the best zombie apocalypse shelter. 

Honestly, I didn't dislike This Is Not a Test. I just didn't love it like I thought I would. I expected a fast-paced, intense zombie story. Instead, I found a book about six lost teens struggling to survive in a building where they used to be students. The zombies barely play a role in the story besides keeping the characters trapped in the school. Sorry, this undead book just wasn't for me. 

“The thing no one tells you about surviving, about the mere act of holding out, is how many hours are nothing because nothing happens. They also don’t tell you about how you can share your deepest secrets with someone, kiss them, and the next hour it’s like there’s nothing between you because not everything can mean something all the time or you’d be crushed under the weight of it.”