Monday, June 11, 2012

This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

Book:  This Is Not a Test
Author:  Courtney Summers
Publisher:  St. Martin’s Griffin
Date:  June 19, 2012
Source:  Publisher via Netgalley
My grade:  A

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?
(summary and cover picture from


Initial reaction
Well, that was definitely not rainbows and unicorns…..

Title and Cover
The title was intriguing and then once I realized where it came from, it was genius.  I like the cover on this one.  The girl looks a little out of control and a little like she’s drowning, both of which are fitting.  So we’ve got a two thumbs up here, people!

The plot, the characters, etc.
I don’t even know how to begin reviewing this book.  This is a zombie book, sort of.  The zombies are important, but really, the book is more about the meaning of life and what gives life meaning and makes it worth living.  And what is worth dying for.  It is a stark exploration of the darkest parts of the human soul.  And the zombies are really symbolic, in my opinion.  I think it’s the contrast between the actual “zombies” on the outside and what turns a human into an emotional zombie on the inside.

Whew!  That was heavy!

And that’s what this book is.  Heavy.  This is not a feel-good, hooray-the-world-has-gone-to-hell-but-we’ll-make-it sort of book.  It also is not a zombie gore-fest, so if that’s your thing, you might be disappointed with this book.  

I was NOT disappointed with this book, because this book made me think.  There were times when I wanted to kick every single one of the main characters and try to knock some sense into them, but that is what made this book great.  The characters are REAL.  They have imperfections, they make mistakes and sometimes the mistakes cost other people their lives.  What a reality check.

There is a lot of tension, both physical and emotional.  Of course, the whole time I was on the edge of my seat just waiting for a zombie attack, but even when they were “safe”, the characters were never safe from themselves or one another.  Although the book is narrated by Sloane and she has lots more baggage than the rest of the characters, they all have dark, dark places.

There are several themes going on here, so I chose 4 songs to go with this book.

Simple Plan:  How Could This Happen to Me?

Breaking Benjamin:  Hopeless

Metallica:  Fade to Black

Of course, it is still a zombie book, so I figured we needed a good, classic slasher type song.......

Drowining Pool:  Let the Bodies Hit the Floor

The final grade
My grade for this book is a solid A.  It is a suspenseful story with a page turning plot and a lot of food for thought.  Go get this one before the zombie apocalypse arrives!

Thanks to Netgalley and St. Martin’s Griffin for allowing me to read and review this book.  I received no compensation for my honest review, not even a zombie survival guide.  


  1. I think Courtney Summers must be some kind of genius. This Is Not a Test is unlike anything I've ever read. I don't even know what genre it belongs to. It's not a zombie-book, and it's not contemps, either - it's the classic Courtney Summers story of a seriously messed up, depressed girl... and there are zombies. The whole thing is just crazy good. With this book, Courtney Summers can appeal to both fans of the dark contemporary YA she normally writes, as well as to readers looking for page-turning, hold-your-breath action. The balance between the two is perfect.

    Courtney Summers can write a depressed girl like nobody's business. The voices of her MCs come from that deep, dark place inside of me - she writes those dark thoughts I can't even admit to myself. I didn't like Sloane, per se, but I was fascinated by living inside her head.

  2. You know, I didn't like Sloane a whole lot either, but I didn't really even stop to think about it until you mentioned it. The story is so all-consuming that you don't even have time to think about whether or not you like the characters.