Wednesday, July 18, 2012
This Is Not a Test
St. Martin's Griffin, 2012
YA Contemporary Zombies
Source: Received an ARC through Amazon Vine in exchange for an honest review.
I've read a couple of Courtney Summers books and have admired her writing although I would not call myself a fan girl. I have read a couple of zombie books but still tend to avoid them. So why did I want to read this book? Well, I'm always up for trying something different and early buzz suggested that the zombie part was not too prominent.
I would have to agree with that opinion as the majority of the book focuses on six high-school students trapped in their high school away from the hordes of zombies. While there is obviously a strong element of suspense (will the zombies break through?), the majority of the book is more of a character study of the six kids who are handling the deteriorating situation in varying ways.
The main character is Sloane, who is many ways was already dead. Crushed under the thumb of an abusive father, her older sister Lily abandoned her six months earlier and Sloane feels that she has already faced death. She can barely believe that she has made it as far as she has for life is not what she seeks. My sister read this book before me and was annoyed by what she called Sloane's whininess. I respectfully disagree, finding in Sloane a quiet unrealized strength that is given full rein during this time of ordeal. She does not always make the best decisions but she's a teenager during the apocalypse-she's doing her best.
There really aren't that many characters but I do want to cite Cary, who I liked immensely. I'm pretty sure that I would die in an apocalypse (and I'm okay with that; better death than being a zombie) but I might have a chance of survival if I followed his leadership. He has to make some tough calls and again not always the right ones (remember, he's a teenager!) but I admired his drive and determination.
Plotwise there really isn't that much. There's a bit about the journey to the school and then life inside the school with the kids but if you're looking for exciting locations and kick-butt action, you won't find that here. It's just some average kids in the weirdest situation.
Warning: Language-although I understand that these teens are in a society that has broken down, I was still a bit shocked by some of the language used.
Overall: A really powerful flowing read, even for those who are squeamish or generally uninterested in zombie books.
Cover: I find the overall effect pretty creepy, which is appropriate for a zombie book. The girl's head is at a bizarre angle, there is a bit of blood splattered at the top corner, and the colors are moody and evocative. It's not my favorite color but it works.