Monday, June 04, 2012

Review: This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

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I received this book for free from St. Martin's Press in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: This Is Not a Test by Courtney SummersThis Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on June 19th, 2012
Genres: Post-Apocalyptic, YA
Source: St. Martin's Press
Buy on Amazon

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?

When someone sees a zombie book there are two reactions: 1) Oh zombies, scary and gory! AwesomeSAUCE! or 2) Ewww zombies! Icky! – pass. So this is a warning: As far as zombie books go, This Is Not A Test has to be one of the tamest. It’s not gory, nor is it an adrenaline filled story. Yes there are zombies and it can get intense at times, but funnily enough, it is not about the zombies. It’s about a girl who doesn’t want to live in this world anymore. She can’t keep going with a dad that beats her, and a sister that left her. This book is about finding the will to live in all this melancholy. Surviving in a school with others who only want to make it through this zombocalypse, when all Sloane wants to do is leave. To let the zombies take her away from this unforgiving world.

Even though the zombies almost never make an appearance. It doesn’t mean it’s not frightening. Courtney weaves them in the always present background; leaving them to our imagination makes them scary in a way no one else can. We don’t know what’s happening on the outside and with a constant fear of breach, the tension in the story is unmistakable. The unknown is a terrifying illusion. This is the angle Courtney takes to make this book absolutely unnerving.

With half a dozen teenagers in a life or death situation, there is no absence of angst. However, it’s not aggravating, it’s realism. It was written with such authenticity that you never feel annoyance, only distress. These are not just surface characters, either. This is a gang of teenagers who are experiencing the end of the world; who have lost everyone they ever knew and loved; who just want to make it through to the next day without killing each other – or dying at the hands of the zombies. We get to know these characters to the core, exposed. We see them at their most vulnerable. It’s all so raw that you get to care deeply for these people. Even when you’re not reading, you’re constantly worrying about them; it’s mentally exhausting, but truly captivating. These personalities who often clash have to learn to work together if they want to come out of this alive. It’s sad, it’s heartbreaking, and there’s a constant sense of doom in the air. One positive vibe throughout, though, is the hope. These kids make the best of what they have, and you always feel like somehow, things will work out.

This story is one that sticks with you, with an ending that leaves you in a bittersweet mess where you’re not sure if you should cry, or simply exhale and let it go. This was my first novel by Courtney Summers, but if this is an example of her writing, I can say she has exceptional talent that I will seek out again with immense anticipation.


5 Hot Espressos

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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

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52 Responses to “Review: This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers”

  1. Nick

    Wow ! You gave it 5 Espressos ! 🙂 It HAS to be a fabulous read then ! 🙂
    It’s great that the book sticks with you after reading since that means that you really enjoyed reading it. I’m very much intrigued by the characters.
    Great review, Giselle 🙂

  2. Hannah Doermann

    Great review! I’m definitely the type to have the 2nd reaction to hearing about a zombie book – they’re just not my thing. But since it’s Courtney Summers, I gave This Is Not a Test a try anyways, and I’m so glad I did – it’s so much more than a zombie book, and I loved it 🙂 Glad you liked it too!

  3. Lalaine

    55555555 flashing five hot Espressos! Damn! Im freaking reading this at the moment and cant wait to get lost in this book. Ive heard great things about it and eeep your thoughts about this book is just to the effin highest level i want to devour this book like literally lol.Great review Giselle. <3

  4. The Teen Book Guru

    Well whenever I see a zombie book, my reaction is definitely AWESOME SAUCE! <3 Courtney Summers is so awesome. I love her books. 🙂 I'm all about bittersweet endings that leave you feeling unsure or on the verge of tears… I love that feeling you get when you finish a book like that! This seems AMAZING, Giselle! Great review!! <3

  5. Sam

    I loved that this was a zombie book that didn’t focus on the zombies. It was so refreshingly different and the characters were amazing… I loved this book too! Amazing review, Giselle. This was my first book by this author too but it definitely won’t be my last. 🙂

  6. Maja (The Nocturnal Library)

    No matter how many gorgeous reviews I’ve read for this book (it was recommended by ALL of my most trusted friends), I can’t seem to make myself pick it up. Possibly because it has a contemporary feel to it, despite the zombies.
    I love a book that takes you places emotionally, though, and it seems clear to me that this one really does.
    Wonderful review, Giselle!

  7. Amy

    Of course you already know that I am dying to read this book, so I will just say fantastic review muffin!! You know how I am with my attachment to characters so I will totally love this! I can’t believe I haven’t already pre-ordered this yet. I am going to do that now. Through TBD of course! Much support for your blog because I love you chick!! 😉 *Runs off to order it*

  8. Catie

    Oh, I love it when people get excited about this book. 🙂 Great review Giselle. I hope you do check out more of her books!

  9. Shellie

    OoOo can’t wait to get my hands on this one. You’ve worked it higher up on my list. I’m more than likely going to drop everything when I get it.

  10. Jac

    Since reading Rhiannon Frater’s books, I have fallen in love with the Zombie world. And if you give a book five espressos? Then it means I absolutely must read it – so I’ll have to snag a copy for myself!!

    -Jac @ For Love and Books

  11. Rebecca (Kindle Fever)

    Wow, you just made me even more excited to read this one. o: It sounds fantastic! I love the fact that the zombies seem to be more of a background-thing too, even though it’s a constant threat. Interesting and a fabulous review! 🙂

  12. Jenni @ Alluring Reads

    Great review Giselle! I LOVED this book, yeah there wasn’t gore on every page but when it came down to it the gore was great. This was such a chilling story, I cried through like 3/4’s of it.

  13. Rachelia (Bookish Comforts)

    I think this has been the only book with zombies that I have ever been interested in reading, LOL so I’m glad it is a bit tame/not really about the zombies. The whole idea and unending tension, the fear of something not immedietely there, but in the background, sounds amazing. I haven’t read any of Courtney Summers’ other books, but it sounds like this is a good one to try out. Great review Giselle!

  14. Silverlight

    When a book leaves you emotional and has a well written story behind it then it’s a must read. Thanks again for adding another book to my pile!!! Fab review, as always!

  15. KelleyB

    I was debating whether or not to read this one but after I saw your review and the 5 espressos, I know I will definitely give it a try. 🙂

  16. Katie @ BlookGirl

    I totally want to read the book now, between Jenni raving about it and your 5-espresso review 🙂 You know I’m not big into zombies, but this sounds like my kind of read! I agree that it’s often the things we can’t see or that aren’t mentioned often that are scarier than the big, bad wolf right in front of you.

    I am going to read this ASAP! Thanks for the great review, love muffin!

  17. bookworm105

    This Is Not A Test has had a lot of praise. Most of the time i don’t read zombies and gory books but maybe this one will turn it around.

    Great review! =D

  18. Suzanne @ Paranormal Book Fan

    5 espressos hmmm….this is not one that really appealed to me from the blurb but I have seen a few good reviews around for it. I won’t be putting it to the top of my list but I might give it a try sometime. Great review 🙂

  19. Kay

    I’m so happy you loved this one! I love Courtney Summers but this sounds different from her other novels, I’m not sure what to expect when I finally read it. I find the idea of having a terrifying atmosphere without the zombies being too present interesting.

  20. A Canadian Girl

    Lol, my reaction is number two which is why I was really surprised to like this one. Then again, it doesn’t have a lot of zombies and isn’t really about zombies but about life. Great review, Giselle!

  21. Jennifer Messerschmidt

    A bunch of teenagers trying to make it through a zombocalypse sounds like a different take on zombies. I kind of like that the zombies are not the main thing. Curious to see how they work together and how they fight to survive. I expect a lot of fighting too. Working together is difficult under normal circumstances. People do crazy things in life or death situations. Can’t wait to read this one!

  22. Amber Hughes

    Great review! I’ve had this one on my TBR for awhile now. I hope to get it soon! I actually haven’t read a zombie book yet (I know, what?!!), but since this isn’t just about the zombies, I think it’s a good place to start to ease myself into the zombie world…haha!

  23. Lexie

    Fantastic review. I have seen nothing but wonderful reviews for this book, so at this point, I know I pretty much have to get my hands on it. Gory zombie books are fabulous, but a zombie book filled with raw emotion and real depth? Definitely my kind of read.

  24. Aylee

    Hmm, I’m kind of conflicted upon reading that zombies and gore don’t actually play a big role in this one… then again, I think that’s the factor that would make it so original and interesting. I’m all for realism in a zombie book!

  25. A. Knight @ Paranormal Indulgence

    Gosh, I now want to read this book WAY MORE. It sounds gritty and heartfelt and hits all the darker emotions. I’ve heard about Summers’s impeccable capabilities, and I’m dying to be exposed to them. ESPECIALLY IN A ZOMBIE NOVEL. Tame or otherwise.

  26. ShreShre

    Whoa! Sounds like an amazing book, AND it received 5 hot espressos?! Mentally adding to TBR list. Sounds a little spooky, but hey, i like spooky 😉 Thanks for the review Giselle!!!

  27. Vegan YA Nerds

    I’m actually a fan of zombie books that aren’t too zombie-ish, yes I am a scaredy-cat! So this book really appeals to me! I enjoyed your review and you’ve reminded me that I want to get a copy of this, STAT!

  28. Candace

    Okay, I never thought this is one I would read but your perfectly stated review has me thinking that I SHOULD read it. Dang it, another going on my TBR!

  29. Rachel

    Wow Giselle 5 Stars! I’ve heard good things about this one and I can’t wait to read it. I agree that sometimes the unknown or unseen is more frightening. It certainly keeps you at the edge of your seat. Brilliant review as always, Giselle! 🙂

  30. Carina

    This sounds really awesome. I’m glad you enjoyed it so much, hun – I really feel the need to get a copy now. 😀 Thanks for sharing!

  31. Mel - Thedailyprophecy.

    The first thing that went through my mind was: ohhhh what a shame, I really was looking forward to another great zombie book! I’m definitely category 1 when it comes to zombies 😀

    But when you said that they were hardly there, I felt disappointed.. But after reading the rest of your review – and the 5 espressos 😮 – my enthusiasm returned. Damn, now I definitely can’t wait to get this one in my hands! 😀 Thanks <3

  32. Camille Picott

    Oh my, I read another review of this book and I totally want to read it. Sounds amazing. I can’t believe I am turning into a zombie fan! Great review!

  33. Emily

    I’m actually reading this book right now and while I don’t like zombie books (at all) this book is amazing! Great review Giselle!!

  34. Michelle @ Book Briefs

    This might just be a perfect zombie book for me to read. I have not read any real zombie books. I am pretty nervous that I won’t like them as much as everyone else does so I am always looking for the perfect zombie starter- one that will make me love it and want to read more.

    Thanks for the great review!

  35. No name

    I love the way you frame your reviews, I think your blog is one i will quickly get addicted to,. I am glad that this is NOT a zombie book, but a story of a girl’s will, a human story so to speak, i will defiantly be picking this one up.