This is Not a Test
Released: June 19, 2012
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
You can read the Goodreads summary here.
Sloane's life was already falling apart when the end of the world hit. Now she's barricaded in her high school with five other students, trying to survive while zombies rampage just outside. But while the other students she's with want to live, Sloane doesn't really care about living. She's just waiting for the barricades to fail and her life to end. As time goes on, the students future is determined less by the dead trying to eat their way inside and more by their own inter-group politics.
I read Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers earlier this year and really enjoyed it, so I was happy to read another book by this author. It just confirmed - Summers is a great writer! She can really draw me in by setting a scene and even though This is Not a Test wasn't filled with constant action, there was always something happening that made me want to turn the pages.
What struck me the most about This is Not a Test was how realistic is seemed. Ok, ok, I know zombies are not currently pounding on our doors looking to eat us for dinner (*knock on wood*) but it was the reaction of the teens that I found a lot more realistic in this novel than other YA zombie novels. In those novels the protagonists often seem to hop from location to location in search of provisions, battling zombies in the streets along the way. But in this novel, these six students have gathered in the local high school. They have food, water, and each other. Instead of clamoring to leave the school, they're actually pretty content at first to stay there and wait for help. Quite honestly, if I was faced with a zombie apocalypse of my own, I would rather be in that situation - in a school with food, water, showers, and other people. I can't see myself picking a zombie fight in the middle of the street.*
What I loved even more about this book was Sloane. She really demonstrates that no matter what goes on in the world, people still have their problems. Her father was a terrible man and her sister abandoned her. She's suicidal over that, not the zombie apocalypse. I really felt for Sloane since her life seemed to be something of a double-whammy.
And I will just add this - the group dynamic in this novel is pretty fantastic. As the six teens spend more time together and decisions need to be made, well, they don't necessarily agree. To me that was sometimes more interesting than what was going on outside the barricade.
Four stars! I enjoyed this book so much I gobbled it up in an afternoon. At the moment we don't know if there will ever be a sequel, but I do know this: I can't wait to read more of Summers work!
*This is why I'm not a kick-ass YA heroine, and why I tend to stick to reading and retail.