Ostensibly, This is Not a Test is a novel about a group of teenagers dealing with a zombie apocalypse, but in reality,As seen on Ink & Tea Reviews
Ostensibly, This is Not a Test is a novel about a group of teenagers dealing with a zombie apocalypse, but in reality, the zombies are just a backdrop. This book is more about depression, suicide, and somehow finding a reason to survive against all odds. There’s not a whole lot of action, and we only meet the zombies face-to-face a couple of times – most of the novel is spent inside a fortified school, where the characters get to know each other and Sloane works through her many issues.
Sloane was best friends with her sister, Lily, and they shared in the abuse their father doled out. Lily was practically her world, and so when she runs away and leaves Sloane behind (despite promising her she’d wait for her), Sloane finds no reason to keep living. The abuse gets worse, and Sloane decides she wants to die. Even as zombies ravage the town, her mission is clear – find a way to die that doesn’t put everyone else in danger.
It’s easy to get angry at Sloane, but I find that you must be able to understand her and forgive her. She can be mean and selfish at times, but she’s a very damaged character. Those who have dealt with depression, the desire to commit suicide, or any other mental illness might recognize the bleakness of being in Sloane’s mind. They might recognize how she lashes out at others, even when she doesn’t actually want to hurt them. I know I do.
It’s hard to get attached to the other characters, simply because this isn’t their story. This is Not a Test is very much centered on Sloane, and she spends a good deal of time shutting everyone out. Even when she finally lets up, and even when she gets involved with another one of the survivors, I didn’t find myself particularly caring for anyone else. I find this inability to deeply care for the entire cast the novel’s weakest point.
Overall, it was a good book and I’m glad I read it. It’s probably not one that I will revisit in the future, but I’ll still be reading any book Courtney Summers comes out with. Her strength is in creating a believable main character and her writing is lovely, and she remains one of my favorite young adult authors. ...more
After Sawyer’s football-playing boyfriend dies, she receives a note in her locker, suggesting that it**spoiler alert** As seen on Ink and Tea Reviews!
After Sawyer’s football-playing boyfriend dies, she receives a note in her locker, suggesting that it wasn’t an accident. Someone may have discovered his abuse, which she kept hidden from the world. But as Sawyer attempts to remain a normal high school student, more people end up dead, and it seems to be that she has a vengeful stalker, snapping pictures of her from afar and killing those who harm her.
I read this book in one setting over the course of a couple of hours. Not because I needed to know what was going to happen next, but because I kind of wanted to just get to the next book. It’s a shame, because I had heard many good things about this book, but I just didn’t like it at all. The mystery wasn’t compelling, the characters were one-dimensional, the romance was boring, and the villain was, quite frankly, insulting. With that said, the prose is one of the few things I didn’t have a problem with, so if my criticisms do not seem to be a big deal to you, I would say to give the novel a try.
I feel like the plot wouldn’t have worked if the characters hadn’t been so mind-numbingly stupid. Sawyer rare told people what was going on – for no discernable reason – and when she did, no one believed her. Even when they had absolutely no reason to doubt her. If you need to make your characters really dumb to make your story work, it’s probably not a very good story.
What I hated most, though, were the characters. Maggie is the mean popular girl who used to date Sawyer’s (now deceased) boyfriend. Predictably, Maggie has no personality outside of being “a bitch.” There is nothing I hate more than when an author decides to have undeveloped female characters with no more than one personality trait, all to prop up their ~superior~ main character. Also, Chloe, who I quite liked at first, being the scrappy trailer park girl, was the only notable girl character besides Maggie and Sawyer. And guess what? It turns out she’s evil.
And I guessed that only 80 pages in.
But! Not only is Chloe evil, she’s an evil lesbian, murdering people to prove her love for Sawyer! If your only gay character is evil, that’s a problem. If every female character besides your main character is evil, that’s a problem. Before I realized that Chloe was going to be the villain, I was hoping she would just be a lesbian. Sure, she had boyfriends, but I smelled that lesbian subtext a mile away.
The romance is also boring and cookie-cutter. We have a “unique” protagonist and a muscled, dull love interest. Seriously, is it just me, or do the majority of MCs in YA novels seem to be the same character?
I really didn’t like this book, but I also have a nagging feeling that I’m going to forget most of it within a few days. I had to make this review quickly – even though I read the book today – because I was already unable to recall a few things. Overall, it just wasn’t for me. ...more