Monday, June 25, 2012

Recommendation: This is not a Test

This is not a Test by Courtney Summers 
Release: June 19, 2012

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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?

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How do I even BEGIN to describe my experience while reading This is Not a Test?

First off, this book is not for the faint of heart. This book is a zombie novel, yes, but the intensity rests on the inner conflict and desperation of a group of teens just trying to survive. Sure, this book has some blood and gore, but it's not the focus. It's not the purpose.

This is Not a Test is a book about Sloane Price. She suffers from abuse and depression. All she wants is to die when the zombie apocalypse begins. In a series of events, though, she ends up with a small group of people from school and they make a fort at Cortege High. What does Sloane have to live for, though? Her sister ran away, her mother's dead, and there's absolutely no hope for her.

And as the story continues, that hope begins to diminish even more. People die, people who didn't deserve to die, who unexpectedly fell prey to zombies or other threats. What I find interesting, however, was that by the end, there was a sliver of hope. The ending was bittersweet--more bitter than sweet--as Sloane begins to realize the worth in living.

This book had me in a wreck. I cried, I gasped, and I found myself so invested in this group of mismatched and flawed teens. There's Cary, the "leader", impulsive Trace, and his sister Grace. There's Harrison, the crier, Rhys, the strong but silent guy, and (of course) Sloane. They are an unlikely group of people, and their interactions alone made this a fascinating read.

What book review would be complete without mentioning Courtney Summer's brilliant writing? I got shivers and I had a strong desire to read her beautiful (and gruesome) prose out loud. It's THAT good. The fragmented and choppy sentences made for a very intimate read that complement the pace of the book.

I will end by saying that I'm not usually a huge fan of zombie novels. I don't mind blood and gore (being a nurse) but I'd rather not read about it. So, take it from a non-zombie lover: this book is MUST READ. This is the first book of Courtney's that I've read and she now has a fan for life.


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