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30 Jan 2014

Book Review: 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 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?

This book focuses a lot on the emotions of each surviving character and their development in an end of the world situation. How the zombie apocalypse has affected them and how they feel about surviving. These are young teens who are worried they may be the only ones left in a world where zombies roam the streets and continuously bang against the barriers of the high school they are taking shelter in.  And when situations arise where the group may have to consider taking their chances in an infested neighbourhood are they even capable of working together to survive?

Sloane's quite a depressing narrator. She was trapped in an abusive home and now she's trapped in an equally violent world. It's got to her and when you meet her in the story she's already suicidal and wanting to give up. There's not much character development to see really.  The Sloane you get at the start of the novel is the Sloane you still have at the end.  She's already made her mind about her fate and nothing really changes that.  I was quite sad to see a character who had already given up and was intent on doing so all the way through.  I would have liked to have seen some change in her character.  Maybe a little bit of determination or develop better relationships with those around her. 

For anyone wanting a fast paced zombie novel this isn't one. The majority of the book is spent in the high school where the characters constantly argue with one another, blaming each other for past events and pretty much getting irritated by each other. So it's a little slow throughout the majority of the book and when the finale comes everything suddenly speeds up. Characters are dying left, right, and centre and then... that's it. It ended a little too abruptly when the action had just started and you're left hanging, wondering what happens to the surviving characters.  For a book that wanted to focus more on characters than a zombie apocalypse you don't really get that.  I didn't really connect with any of the characters.  Their personalities seemed developed already and we were just following on, far away from where their story might have actually begun.  It did make me wonder if Summers started the book at the right point.  Maybe it could have been made longer so we at least saw a difference in each character and took this journey with them. 


5 comments:

  1. That sounds good. It sounds like something I might give 4 or 5 stars to, so I'll check it out. The thing that puts me off from the description is that Sloane sounds selfish for wanting to escape and die despite what the characters inside might want. But honestly, she sounds like a realistically written depressed character. Sad, of course, but it's interesting to see a zombie novel where the main goal of the character is NOT surviving...

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    1. It's definitely a different take on a zombie apocalypse. Perfect read for others but unfortunately I was hoping for your typical zombie survival journey. Still interesting to read because of the focus on character more than story. =)

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    2. I wonder how long you'd be able to string out the "wants to die" plot in a world where it's really hard not to die, though. I guess most of the tension from that comes from the characters who want to live? In which case why doesn't she kill herself by methods other than zombie bite? I'm really interested to read it now, just to see how that is handled.

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  2. I really didn't enjoy this one like everyone else seemed to. I found Sloane extremely difficult to connect to, and like you, I felt like the story could have used more to it. Honestly, it felt a bit like reading a handful of chapters out of a larger story. I know many people loved it, so I'm just going to chalk this up to a "to each his/her own" situation.

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    1. I really couldn't connect to any of the characters either. I was quite frustrated with Sloane and it's probably because I can be quite harsh with brooding, moody characters. I just don't get them at all.

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