Friday, June 29, 2012

Review: This Is Not A Test by Courtney Summers

Softcover: 332
Release Date: June 19, 2012
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Author Info: Website | Twitter
Buy the Book: Amazon | IndieBound
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?
While I had never read any of Courtney Summers’ works, I had certainly heard of them. I knew them to be very emotionally hard contemporaries. When I saw This Is Not A Test on NetGalley, of course I requested it. I later learned it was a zombie book. Whhaa?? Not that this deterred me, it was just interesting. It turned out to be a half paranormal, half contemporary, which is so interesting it makes me drool a little.

Generally, in paranormals, the trials of real life are glossed over in favor for the fantastical element. But here we not only have Sloane fighting for her life against the undead, but we see her emotional baggage from her abusive father and her dealing with her runaway sister. This, essentially, makes it one of the most realistic paranormals I’ve ever read.

 As far as the paranormal element, it’s very à la Carrie Ryan. Ryan’s books are the only zombie books I’ve read and her writing was so beautiful that it doesn’t really feel like it’s about the rotting undead. Same here. Because this book was so infused with contemporary conflict it becomes a multi-layered novel about survival and the multiple definitions of survival.

Is it too much to ask for more paranormals like this? If you’re in the mood for a contemporary, this works. If you’re in the mood for a paranormal, this works. It’s a beautiful genre cross-over. And I have to say, while these days I prefer standalones, I actually want more of this world!

One of the things that blew me away in this book was the situation of real teenagers dealing with death and, even a more impressive topic to tackle, killing. In many paranormals, teens killing beasts, creatures, etc is not really contested. But killing other humans is near to taboo, understandably so. But this is not that kind of mindless video game violence. There are actions and there are consequences and then there is guilt and regret thickly spread over all of it. I can’t say too much because it might spoil things, but the last 50 or so pages are so hair-pullingly intense, if I’d known it was coming, I wouldn’t have finished it right before bed. And page 305. Oh. My. God. I... I can’t even. Like something straight out of movie. Brilliant. Heart-shattering.

I can safely say I will be checking out the rest of Ms. Summers’ works and will be looking forward to more in the future.


  1. Great review! Coutney Summers is a great author and I can't wait to read this book. It definitely sounds like my cup of tea. :)

  2. Amazing review. Perfectly said. I couldn't agree more. And I would love to see more of this world. It was such a surprise to me and quite heartbreaking!

  3. I loved your review. I would really like to read this. I will have to see if I can find it. :)

    Jenea @ Books Live Forever

  4. Julia @ That Hapa ChickJune 30, 2012 at 7:49 PM

    I can hardly wait to get my hands on this book! It just sounds beyond brilliant. I love the thought of a story with some paranormal elements that reads more like a contemporary novel. :D

  5. Just found your blog and am loving it so far :)
    This book looks amazing! Sounds like it would fit the bill for lots of different kinds of reading moods. Can't wait to read it.