Much of this book is made up of a directionless, mostly danger-free, boring, plodding, apocalyptic road trip. The characters meander around Virginia w...moreMuch of this book is made up of a directionless, mostly danger-free, boring, plodding, apocalyptic road trip. The characters meander around Virginia waiting for a plot to find them. The main character is a whiny, self-hating wimp who spends nearly all of her internal monologue whining about how much she hates herself and that everyone else should, too. And given the conditions she's been forced to live for the previous six years - a cruel internment camp where she suffered abuse every single day - her attitude is expected. But Ruby doesn't want your pity. So when she finds others who were in different camps and learns that the conditions at her own camp were much more horrible than any other place, she withdraws further and hides the truth about herself and her life - as if she were ashamed on behalf of her captors - all because she doesn't want pity. Girl, if you don't want pity - be upfront about the truth and don't accept pity. I wonder what the purpose of Ruby's attitude means - are we, the readers, supposed to think she is brave and strong? Because she comes across as a coward and a wimp.
The plot should have been interesting - as it dealt with telekinetic children and the government's extermination of them - but it flailed. Very little powers were ever used. There were threats to the protagonist, yet there was no real antagonist. I never really knew what the characters wanted - likely because they didn't either. Also, the world-building contradicted itself many times. I'm supposed to believe the world is in shambles (but why? how? because the children were taken away? And that results in ... what, exactly?) Yet we still have hotels and restaurants that are operation and neighborhoods are intact. We are told there are abandoned cars everywhere (and again - why?), yet all roads were navigable (or, when one was closed, a simple detour was found - with road signs and everything!) Everyone under the age of 20 or so is either dead or in a camp, but these teenagers don't seem to fear being sighted and don't take much care to hide themselves. But it's okay, only the "bad guys" are looking for them - and they are always quickly defeated or avoided without much fuss.
The writing was clear enough, but suffered when the writer tried to either be funny or poetic. Neither works for this narrator, who is cold and dead inside from suffering six years of abuse. Anytime the writer injected a phrase to spruce up the writing, it felt jarringly out of place. Also, syntax errors were everywhere. I also have a suspicion that this writer is a Joss Whedon fan (either that, or I'm obsessed and am making more connections than I should) because there were little things that I felt were lifted directly from Whedon's creations (namely "Firefly" and "Buffy"). And this wasn't done in a hat-tip way, but in a "I hope no one notices I didn't come up with this myself!" way. Well, I see you and I know what you're (probably) doing.
Mechanics of writing aside, I never felt any sort of urgency to the story (and since this group has no fewer than three threatening entities after them, that's pretty bad) and I felt no connection to any of the characters - which is bad, I suppose, because I think I was supposed to care about the things that happened with each of the members of the group at the end, but I really, really, didn't. Those are the things that needed to happen to make for a compelling story. And it seems that the writer knew this, and made those things happen, but neglected to give any reason for me to care about it.
I hate giving books one star and poor reviews. But some books earn them, and in my opinion, this one did. I simply don't have time for crappy books like this. I will be passing on the rest of the series as well as taking my copy of this book to the library to place on the "free" shelf in hopes that it finds a more appreciative audience.(less)
A decent read. Nothing too special, though. Seth is a likable narrator and I was immediately hooked by the opening chapter when he is dumped by his gi...moreA decent read. Nothing too special, though. Seth is a likable narrator and I was immediately hooked by the opening chapter when he is dumped by his girlfriend, sees his dad with another woman, and is fired from his fourth job of the year all on the same day. But I did tune out a bit during the golf scenes. (Much of the setting is at a summer golf club.)
I picked this audio book up because I saw it has an iPod on the cover. Why, I listen to my audio books on my iPod! A perfect match! When I found out the narrator uses podcasting to make sense of his love life, I thought this would be a perfect novel for audio. I am a fan Nick Podehl's narration, and would listen to anything he narrates. He's believable as a teenage boy, and his voices for other characters are superb.
I've had bad luck with zombie novels. I haven't enjoyed any of the zombie novels I've read. In fact, I've hated them and I was convinced that while zo...moreI've had bad luck with zombie novels. I haven't enjoyed any of the zombie novels I've read. In fact, I've hated them and I was convinced that while zombies work great on screen, there is something about that them that doesn't work in the written form.
That's how I felt until "This is Not a Test" changed all of that for me.
Courtney Summers has found a way to make literary zombies work. I was captivated by Sloane's story, and I think perhaps the reason that this novel succeeds is because it is Sloane's story -- not a typical OMG ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE story. Sloane is one six teens who have survived a zombie uprising and gotten safely to their high school. The story feels a bit like "The Breakfast Club" ... with zombies.*
This book amazed me with its dazzling prose. And it also frightened me with a believable depiction of the end of the world, and all of the emotions that go along with it. Sloane's back story and personality were exceptionally heartbreaking. We get more character exploration than we do action. The undead make very few appearances, but the threat of them is always present. But just because there's little gore doesn't mean it didn't frighten the crap out of me. I had to sleep with the lights on every night while reading this, and I admit to have some zombie nightmares, too. This novel succeeded in every way, and I'd recommend it to anyone who loves a good zombie story, or to anyone who loves a good story -- period.
*Disclaimer: "The Breakfast Club" w/ zombies comparison is only meant to say that both stories take place primarily in a high school, with high school students who aren't friends as the main characters. The tone of "This is Not a Test" could not be any more different than that awesome 80's movie.(less)