This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers (Review)


Summary: 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?

Genres: Young Adult, Horror, Zombies, Science Fiction

Cover: I love how cryptic the cover is. It’s simplistic and eye-catching.

My thoughts: This Is Not a Test is a story centered around six students who have hidden in their high school because zombies have overtaken their society. The protagonist, Sloane Price, would rather be killed by a zombie than continue living because her sister, Lily, has ran away before the zombie outbreak began. Sloane lives a brutal life considering her father beat her and her sister before she ran away, leaving Sloane by herself. Rather than hoping to survive the apocalypse, Sloane embraces her hopelessness and wishes that the end will come soon because she doesn’t want to live anymore. This story isn’t just about zombies taking over the world. This beautifully written story is about depression, survival, unlikely friendships, betrayals, and the destruction of lives because of the apocalypse and people’s inner battles

This is my first Courtney Summers novel that I’ve read and it has become one of my most favorite stories because of how effortlessly she wrote such a heartbreaking story centered around depression and zombies.  Sloane is a character that I immediately related to and cared about the moment I began reading this book. She had to deal with so much because of her father’s abuse and the fact that her sister abandoned her when they planned on running away together. Sloane has to not only deal with surviving the apocalypse but also has to deal with the crippling sadness that she has to drag around with her because she lost her sister. And the longer she stays trapped in the school with five other people, the more she begins to wish that she would simply die rather than attempt to survive the destruction of the world. The way Courtney Summers described Sloane’s depression was so poetic and written in a way that I believe has the power to strike and educate every reader. Sloane isn’t a strong girl fighting for her life throughout the book. Sloane is a broken girl who thrown into a horrible situation that shapes her into this powerful character that I was amazed by. She was strong and yet she was crumbling inside and that really amazed me because most books never show broken heroes in stories that do make mistakes and have demons they have to fight within themselves. 

The other characters also trapped in the school with Sloane each played a different role in the development of this fast paced story I couldn’t put down. Rhys supported Sloane when she needed him most while also attempting to help her with her depression overtaking her. Although sometimes he is insensitive and mean, he is a major character who has the ability to calm everyone down when things get out of hand. Grace and Trace are also such two different characters, and yet both of their personalities made an incredible impact on Sloane over the course of the book. Grace instills a semblance of hope in Sloane and offers her the comfort she needed considering she was so empty after she lost her sister. I loved Grace. She was the kindest character of the group and always tried to keep everyone uplifted during the darkest of moments when hope was lost. Trace, on the other hand, could be considered the antagonist of the story. He is spiteful, angry, and aggressive, and yet I found myself connecting with him. Although his anger causes many problems in the story, his feelings were somewhat understandable. He wasn’t angry for the sake of being angry. He was simply trying to let out his frustrations about the apocalypse and he happened to direct it towards Cary.

Cary was a character that I liked the most out of the group. He tried his hardest to protect everyone and admitted to making some mistakes along the way. Every character had their faults and I loved how Courtney Summers focused on those traits which made them seem more human in a way. No one was perfect or constantly made the right choices. They all had to fight their own battles and figure themselves out while also trying to survive with each other in the school. Harrison, a minor character also trapped in the school, wasn’t terribly important to the plot, but he did provide a semblance of innocence into the story. I appreciated the fact that he was included in the book because his character showed how much the destruction of the world can really break a person. Each character was portrayed in a raw way that I adored. They unfolded their secrets and fears over the course of the story and made me hope for their safety more than anything. 

This book wasn’t the typical fight-against-zombies-and-hope-to-survive apocalypse story. The characters stayed in the school majority of the time where tensions flared and secrets were revealed as time past. The characters were stuck in close quarters and were still changed by the zombies, even if they didn’t have direct contact with the zombies majority of the time. There wasn’t much action like other zombie themed books, but it was just as impacting. I thoroughly loved this novel and cannot wait to read other Courtney Summers’ books because she writes in such a raw way that will leave you thinking about her stories and her characters for days on hand.

Rating: ★★★★★