Trudi's Reviews > This is Not a Test

This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers
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Jul 26, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: young-adult, zombies, group-in-peril, survive-this, apocalyptic-types, 2012, favorites, twss, oh-canada
Read from July 23 to 26, 2012

I don't know how I'm going to do this, move through the hours like someone who wants to still be breathing when I had so firmly made up my mind to stop.
Wow. This little book has completely floored me. I was not expecting something so deep, so very melancholic yet shot through with the irrepressible human need to hope. Not just irrepressible, Summers shows us that hope is irreducible. Stripped to its basest core, hope just might be the evolutionary urge that has kept us going as a species for millennia -- in the face of disasters and war, atrocities and cruelty, in the face of bottomless grief, crushing despair, paralyzing loneliness and love lost. And I have no doubt that when the zombie apocalypse comes, it will be this amazing capacity to salvage hope from the ruins that will save us.

In This is Not a Test we meet Sloane, a young woman who has lost her ability to hope and thus, her will to live. She is alone with a father who beats her, abandoned by the only person in this life she has ever loved, her older sister Lily. Lily always told her they would escape together, that she would wait for her...and then she didn't. The depth of this betrayal slices through Sloane leaving her panicked, floundering, numb, then finally resigned. Her sister always said that Sloane would die without her -- and now Sloane has decided that she was right. At the point when Sloane knows she cannot possibly continue to live for another single intake of breath, zombies come pounding at the front door. The world is in chaos. Death is in every backyard, on every street corner. And suddenly, the young woman who was going to take her own life, is now running for it.

Yes this book has zombies but PLEASE, if that's not your thing, don't let it keep you from reading it. This is a story rich with emotion because Summers has such a genuine talent for creating memorable, unique characters. A book of six teens where every voice is distinctive and grounded firmly in reality is rare and precious. Hell, that's rare and precious for fiction period. The way these kids relate to one another, approaching with caution, testing for vulnerabilities, seeking approval, acceptance, a safe unconditional embrace, just left me riveted. I can tell you, I WAS IN THAT HIGH SCHOOL with them. I felt their fear and pain. I watched them come together, pull apart, rage and cry ... and I cried with them. Oh yes, there were tears people.

So many reviewers have pointed out that this book isn't about the zombies, but I would add that it's not just about the zombies. Because unlike some other books, the zombies are more than mere window dressing here or a fleeting, ill-defined threat. While there are very few actual sightings and encounters, there remains a stifling, almost suffocating sense of them at all times. In fact, there are several truly terrifying scenes, scenes that only work because Summers understands the critical relationship between tension and release. There is so much quiet in this novel, that when she ratchets up the suspense to a scream in the final 40 pages it's enough to make your heart beat right the fuck out of your chest.

I really loved everything about this book. I could search for flaws, as I'm sure they exist, but I'm not going to. I got lost in it. I thought about it when I was away from it, and I couldn't wait to get back to it. I was reading it on the bus on my way home today and nearly missed my stop because I was so engrossed. Read this! READ IT! I can't state it any more emphatically than that. Don't believe me? Read Catie's review. She'll convince you.

P.S. and I was so excited to learn that Courtney Summers is Canadian! Yay, Canada :)
Women and men. Girls and boys. People I might've known but can't recognize anymore. There is every shade of blood--black, brown, red, pink. All eyes looking at us through that same milky film that sees us for what we are and what they are not anymore.


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Reading Progress

07/24 page 108
33.0% "Loving this! Love the voice. Raw pain, loneliness and grief amidst the carnage of a zombie apocalypse. The prose is divine." 1 comment
04/05 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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Maciek Great review, Trudi! You convinced me. I got the book and added it to my list of books to be read this year.


Sonatajessica This books sounds better and better with every review I read, thanks for yours! I can't wait til the library hands me a copy!


Trudi Maciek wrote: "Great review, Trudi! You convinced me. I got the book and added it to my list of books to be read this year."

Thanks Maciek! I'm so glad you're going to give this a try. I'll be really interested to get a male perspective on this little book, especially yours :)


Trudi Sonatajessica wrote: "This books sounds better and better with every review I read, thanks for yours!"

You're so very welcome! Enjoy!


Maciek Trudi wrote: "Maciek wrote: "Great review, Trudi! You convinced me. I got the book and added it to my list of books to be read this year."

Thanks Maciek! I'm so glad you're going to give this a try. I'll be really interested to get a male perspective on this little book, especially yours :) "

Thank you, Trudi! You made it sound really good, so I am very much looking forward to reading it! I especially like the fact that the characters are barricading themselves in a high school. For one reason or another, it appealed to me.


Carol. Nice review. i bumped it up on my to-read list.


Trudi Carol wrote: "Nice review. i bumped it up on my to-read list."

Thanks Carol. If you enjoy it even half as much as I did, it will be worth it for you :)


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