Giselle's Reviews > This Is Not a Drill

This Is Not a Drill by Beck McDowell
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's review
Aug 24, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: arc, own
Read from October 18 to 19, 2012

With only a mere 224 pages, I was surprised by how much power this short little novel emitted. This Is Not a Drill takes us into the lives of two teenage kids who are tutoring first graders, when an angry, unstable post-military father arrives and takes the class hostage.

This situation is a real tragedy that we sadly see happen in our world much too often. School shootings, school bombings; any school disaster is a parent's worst fear. To get a call that your first grader is in a classroom with an unstable gunman is unimaginable. For this reason, although this book is clearly a YA novel and anyone of any age would likely enjoy it, I think readers who are parents will get the most out of this story. Because, not only do we care about the teenagers and feel for the situation, we understand the very big picture of this tragedy. We care about the parents outside who are sick with worry for their little ones, we can easily put ourselves in their shoes. We also care about what the teenagers are doing at a deeper level. Every single thing they do to help these kids is every single thing I would hope someone would be offering my kid as a comfort if this would happen. We also understand the kids perspective - at least I feel I understand kids a lot more since I had my own. While I'm not saying those without children will not get all of this, I'm thinking the level of poignancy this book will have on a parent will be heightened.

With that said, the strongest and best part of this novel is, in fact, the kids. Kids may scream, irritate, and simply be unforgivably annoying sometimes, but they are incredibly generous, supportive, and so kind-hearted. The way Beck portrays the children is this book is both realistic and wonderfully uplifting. I found that part to be exactly what I could imagine happening in this situation, from tears to fears to the oblivious cheers.

The teenagers, at least at first, had me a little less impressed. They kept reminiscing on their past relationships a little too much during this crisis. I also had a hard time keeping track of the two perspectives that weren't distinct enough. After a while, however, they became a lot more real, and their actions during the whole event were definitely admirable. I loved the way they handled every dilemmas from potty time to high-stake traumas. I was also deeply moved by the gunman's story. Making me extremely surprised by just how much punch this little book could pack at every turn.

One minor complaint of mine, was the reaction, or lack thereof, from the cops. We have people specialized in hostage negotiations who are trained to go into situations like this and diffuse it, but in the whole day it took to go through this story, the cops barely made a peep. I found this a little doubtful. I understand it's a very complicated situation especially when kids are involved, and I'm no expert, but I would think they would have done more.

This Is Not a Drill delivers an intense thriller that will make you feel equally hopeful and heartbroken. It's a powerful novel that is bound to move you, not only from the tears of a child, but from the laughter that only they can bring.

An advance copy was provided by the publisher for review.

For more of my reviews, visit my blog at Xpresso Reads
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05/07/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-13 of 13) (13 new)

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message 1: by Lindsay (new)

Lindsay As fabulous as your review is, I simply can't bring myself to read it. I would probably pull my kids out of school!! ;)

Giselle Haha yes it's pretty scary and I was glad mine is only 2 and sill a few years away from school.

message 3: by Lindsay (new)

Lindsay I was completely shocked that all the school have emergency lock down measures, and that the kids all know exactly what to do. So scary that this is a necessary lesson for our children. We never had anything like that when we were kids...

Giselle Oh really? No we never had anything like that either it's kind of scary they have to have that now. And poor kids to have to learn that, in a way! It makes me sad! :(

Greta is Erikasbuddy That sounds great!!

Have you read: One Breath Away?

Giselle No but I have seen it around and just read your review! I hadn't really looked into it before but it sounds right up my alley for sure! Thanks!

Greta is Erikasbuddy ZOMG! That author is gold!! I love everything she writes :)

Giselle I just requested it from Netgalley. It's from the UK so dunno if they'll approve me but if not I'll see if I can find a copy :)

Greta is Erikasbuddy I got mine off Netgalley in the states. I guess it's being released in the UK now. I bet your library has it :)

Giselle Oh ok. The Netgalley one says it was released in June 2012. But it's from the UK publisher so dunno if they approve non residents. But yeah the library should have it, too! I will get a hold of it somehow!

Greta is Erikasbuddy cool beans!! I hope you like it. THe author's other works are really neat too. I couldn't put down "The Weight of Silence" :)

Alexis *Reality Bites* HOLY HELL! AWESOME review Giselle!! This is definitely every parents worst nightmare.

Giselle Thanks, Alexis! I'm happy mine is only 2!

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