Title: This Is Not A Test
Author: Courtney Summers
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Source: Purchased from Kindle Store
Buy it: Here
Sloane wanted to die - there is a lot she wanted that never happened. She wanted her sister to come back for her, and she wanted to escape the clutches of her abusive father. So why, when the world is falling apart around her, is she still surviving?
This Is Not A Test is a wonderfully written, if bleak, portrayal of teenagers thrown against a lot of "worst situations". Courtney Summers chooses to make the zombies almost background narrative to her story of teens struggling to survive the zombie outbreak, survive each other and, ultimately, survive themselves.
The plot is racked full of angsty emotion as each of the group of teen survivors battles their own demons and faces up to decisions they've had to make to stay alive.
I found that, personally, I wasn't much of a fan of the narrator, Sloane. I found her to be overly defeatist and although her unknown-to-herself strengths shone through, I found it frustrating that she couldn't find anything to live for. Having said that - not loving the main character did not in any way detract from the book. I wonder if the reader is even meant to like her? I did, though, warm to other characters when seeing them through Sloane's eyes. I especially warmed to Rhys and Grace, who both have compassion and loyalty in bounds. Sloane's idealisation of their perceived lives is quite heart-wrenching at times, and shows her to be very much a child at heart, desperate for love and companionship.
Of course, a zombie novel is not without its violence. This Is Not A Test is violent is a way which matches the intensity of the darkness within its characters. I don't think it ever over stepped the mark, and at times the violence was necessary to see characters develop and become more than their previous selves.
This Is Not A Test is not, in any way, a happy read. However, if you like a lot of angst, a bit of romance and the threat of zombie infection, you will love this book!
Hyper-charged teen angst takes centre stage in this novel that sets emotional complexity against the confusion of a zombie-outbreak backdrop. I enjoyed reading This Is Not A Test, despite its bleakness, and am thrilled to find another zombie YA novel that sets zombies as a catalyst for character development, rather than just action and gore.