Where All the Annoying Characters Get Eaten by Zombies: This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

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 wantto 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 doyou hold on to?

Source: GoodReads

I decided to check to see what my local library had the way of offering in Courtney Summers after seeing the press in the blogosphere for her new book.  I’ve always been interested in This is Not a Test because, well, zombies and I was pleasantly surprised with this one.  But it was not exactly what I expected.

While I knew that Summers wrote deep thought provoking YA, I have heard that This is Not a Test is a little bit of a departure for her.  But all the trademark Summers’ trademarks that I read about were there (aka emotional angst).  But I don’t think i would’ve liked the story as much if it didn’t include the zombies.

And it’s not even as if the zombie mythology is that well thought out.  This is truly one of those cases where  the paranormal element to this dystopian world is not fleshed out at all and it totally works.  I think it’s because of where we are in this point of when the world falls apart so the characters really have no idea how things came to binge.  Just that the  undead is now out there and there are no post apocalyptic cops cops out there to help them-just Rhys.

Who’s  almost as good as a post apocalyptic cop.  Okay, most of these characters in this book are pretty bad ass all things  considered, but their badassery isn’t what makes the book.

What makes the book is how the emotional turmoil parallels all the exterior events in the book.  While most of the story focuses on the main character Sloane, we get to see bits and pieces of the Zombie Breakfast Club (as I call them) and you do grow close to them.

The closest thing I can get to Breakfast Club zombies.

But seeing as this is a disaster themed book,none of them are safe.  And that means if certain characters get maimed or dead you’re actually going to care.  It’s not going to be like when Bill Pullman’s wife got it in Independence Day.

And that’s what was the biggest payoff of this book.  You cared about what happened, and then the resolution…so not fair.

Another Summers trademark from what I understand.

While I really enjoyed This is Not a Test, I wouldn’t say it’s a perfect  book.  There were some problems here and there.  For one thing, I wanted a little bit more explanation to some of the things going on.  I really don’t know if that was possible though.  If there was more explanation or resolution the book might’ve lost some of its charm, but at the time I did feel like things were left unresolved.

And the climax…well, could more of The Breakfast Club save for the ones that did survive?  Is that too much to ask?  It just seemed a little cliche, who survived that is.

Anyway, I am definitely going to check out more of Summers books.  This is Not a Test is quite clever. It combines real world problems with zombie apocalypse with a little bit of Molly Ringwald and the crew doing “Thriller”  and oddly it works.

Overall Rating: A solid B.


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