Saturday, May 19, 2012

This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

This Is Not a Test
Good Reads Summary 
This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

It’s the end of the world. Six students have taken cover in Cortege High but shelter is little comfort when the dead outside won’t stop pounding on the doors. One bite is all it takes to kill a person and bring them back as a monstrous version of their former self. To Sloane Price, that doesn’t sound so bad. Six months ago, her world collapsed and since then, she’s failed to find a reason to keep going. Now seems like the perfect time to give up. As Sloane eagerly waits for the barricades to fall, she’s forced to witness the apocalypse through the eyes of five people who actually want to live. But as the days crawl by, the motivations for survival change in startling ways and soon the group’s fate is determined less and less by what’s happening outside and more and more by the unpredictable and violent bids for life—and death—inside. When everything is gone, what do you hold on to?

My Thoughts
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This must be what Dorothy felt like, I think.
Maybe. If Dorothy was six scared teenagers and Oz was hell.

Dark. From the word go, it’s dark and harrowing and heavy… even without the zombies in the picture. It’s her memories as well as everything else she didn’t/wouldn’t say out loud but went running through her head nonetheless; it was those things left unsaid that had my hair on end at first. And to think, all that in the first couple of passages without the zombies in the picture.

My constant Poor Sloane-ing should clue you in that This Is Not a Test is not the typical zombie book. It’s much closer to Pieces of Us than it is to whatever you think is a good dark moody zombie book. Because it could go from being dark, harrowing then bittersweet, then hopeful then not all in a blink for so many reasons that you’d not expect.

Then Darker Still.Even without the zombies, Sloane had so much on her plate. Lily’s there but not there, her absence is such a big part of things that it was almost a force all on its own, playing a big role in what Sloane does/did/didn’t do/wanted to do.

Urgent. Switching from one moment to the next. Because Sloane and her history aside, there’s still so much more things, bigger things to remember. Who to trust? What to do? What’s to come? There were so many aspects of this going on that each time I thought I’d just about wrapped my head where things were going on, well, I found I never actually did. It’s all six of them together that offered an even bigger puzzle. As much as the idea of six kids holed up in a high school made me think of Breakfast Club, well… these kids, bosom buddies they definitely were not.

It’s all in their heads (or maybe not.) The thinking about what another would do, the imagining of what would (not) happen or what could happen... that made everything seem then become bigger, worse. What’s equal parts fascinating and terrifying is the fact that at one point or another each of them made sense because each of them had his or her own concerns. So that it’s perfectly crystal that their coming together, their little alliance was a tenuous one.  Knowing this last thing, I was waiting.waiting.waiting for someone to break. It felt inevitable, this thing. It’s that waiting that drove me batty but still spurred me on.

Bittersweet… and sometimes ugly. Oh, the things people do to each other. The things people do for each other. The thing people do because of another! Though it pains me to say it, I think I’d be a Harrison. In their place, I’d have loved to be a Grace, with her being open eyed a, being calm and collected. And though I’d have loved to be either Rhys or Cary with their thinking things through or making hard decisions; but I doubt if I could keep up with the likes of them. Even Sloane’, calm acceptance of things made her shine at times. But frankly, I’d most likely be a Harrison.  Just thinking of them together and the many, many plot twists that popped up still has me mouth ajar:

Some things just came out of the blue. What they could do for  and to each other then do because of another had me considering psychological experiment gone bad instead of a zombie post-apoc-survival book. Could it have been both? Because I loved every moment of it. A lot of it scared me. A lot of it had me asking things like ‘How could they do that?’ or ‘ Were they doing what I think they were doing?' Yet while there were moments that disturbed me; there were other moments still that broke my heart.

Basically, that this book has me feeling so many different things all at once makes me love it all the more. This is so much more than a zombie book. Plus that ending? That ending has me both hopeful for them but also held back in considering what’s more likely to have happened.

five out of five

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