This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Publication Date: June 19th
Rating: I liked it
The Skinny: A dash of Lord of the Flies and a scoop of reality
I have not read a lot of zombie books, so when I heard about This is Not a Test, I was excited to read it. The idea of teenagers seeking shelter in a high school and having to band together in order to survive is an intriguing storyline. What would these kids do when faced with important decisions? How would they cope with the stress and fear of being alone? This is Not a Test answers each of these questions and provides a realistic view of what would happen if teenagers were placed in such a situation.
The characters are all different manifestations of coping mechanisms when faced with trauma or conflict. One is angry, one is fearful, one is aloof, and one is silent. Sloane, our main character, is so different from most YA characters. She has experienced great abuse and torture. She does not have a stable family life, and she is more interested in ending her life than fighting for it. It is so ironic that she is placed in a situation in which she must fight to survive when she was unable to keep fighting. I really liked Sloane and thought that she behaved in a realistic and consistent manner throughout the story. The other characters are interesting, and I liked seeing how each one handled the stress and loneliness that came with the constant fear of death.
The writing is good and situations are described realistically. Just enough information is revealed to keep readers interested and guessing. The twists and turns are unraveled slowly, so a lot of tension is built up before the great reveals. The one part of the story that I did not enjoy is the end when information is revealed about her family. It seemed a bit farfetched to me, and I did not understand it.
Overall, I liked This is Not a Test. Though I wanted a bit more zombie action, I appreciated the deeper themes that Summers included in the story. Abuse, conflict, anger, and fear are all touched upon in this YA novel. Summers does not gloss over difficult subjects and really embraces the difficult and true parts of life. The best part of this book is that it is realistic in terms of emotions. Some people try to be leaders when dealing with emergency situations, while others will resent those who try to the lead. Others will follow and others still will break away. It’s a good read, and I recommend it to readers who are looking for a deeper YA.