It’s the End of the World as We Know It: This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers
Imagine The Breakfast Club being interrupted by a zombie apocalypse and you’ll have a pretty good idea what it’s like to read Courtney Summers’ This is Not a Test.
I love Courtney Summers’ writing. It is no secret that she manages to make me cry like a baby with every book she writes. Summers is at the top of the class when it comes to writing contemps, and I eagerly read everything she writes in anticipation of that gut-wrenching visceral emotion I know I can expect from her work. And that is how I came to read my first zombie novel.
While I read the occasional dystopian or paranormal book, most of my reading remains solidly in the contemporary, realistic fiction camp. In the zombies vs. unicorns and werewolves vs. vampires debate, I generally do not give a shit. I am perfectly content reading about real people, thank you very much.
I am pleased to report that This is Not a Test is packed with real people and their very real drama. Yes, there are zombies, too, but the people are as big a threat to themselves as any zombie bite. If other zombie stories are like this, count me in, because I loved every minute of this book. It might even be new favorite among Summers’ novels.
To be or not to be has never been an easy decision, but the morning Sloane Price’s breakfast with her father is disrupted by the beginning of the zombie apocalypse, that decision gets a whole lot harder. Sloane escapes her home, teaming up with a group of other teens and a couple of parents, and seeks shelter from the zombie horde. Though the parents are killed en route, Sloane and five other students make it to their high school, where they barricade themselves inside. Luckily for them, the school seems to be stocked better than that of Michael Northrop’s Trapped; there’s enough food, water, and first aid supplies to last for some time.
The constant pounding at the doors is a reminder to the six survivors that they are never quite safe. The radio gives them no real news, only telling them that “this is not a test,” a fact they figured out for themselves rather quickly as they watched everybody around them die–or become undead or reanimated, whatever it is zombified people do. The other five teens are scared and angry and fighting for their lives, but Sloane is more than willing to sacrifice herself.
Even before the zombies, Sloane was ready to die. Her father was abusive, and her sister finally couldn’t take it anymore and left Sloane behind. There may be nothing left of the world after the zombie apocalypse, but even if some of it remains intact, Sloane is not sure that she wants any part of it. The question for Sloane isn’t really “Can I make it out of this alive?” but “Do I even want to bother?”
This is Not a Test is an utterly thrilling read. Sloane’s questioning of her own mortality is heart-wrenching, while everyone else’s quest for survival is heart-pounding. Don’t bother going to the gym; you can get your cardio workout right here. Courtney Summers’ newest novel will keep you up at night and keep you thinking about it long after you turn the last page. You will rarely find yourself having such a good time while being completely emotionally gutted.