Thursday, November 20, 2014

This Is Not a Test Review

This Is Not a Test is yet another book about the zombie apocalypse.  Despite the worked-over subject matter, however, I found myself really enjoying the book.

Our cast of characters is a group of teenagers who have battled their way across town to hole up in their former high school building.  I guess you could compare the setting of the book to The Breakfast Club, in a way, with all of the teens roaming the halls of a deserted school.  The tone is notedly more macabre, though.

Our protagonist is Sloane Price, and she's dealing with the end of the world very well.  This is because she'd already decided to kill herself before the zombie outbreak occurred.  Her state of mind lets her move through situations that freeze her fellow survivors.  (This premise reminded me a lot of the movie Melancholia, which explores how depressed people are excellent in crisis situations.) She is a compelling heroine.

The supporting cast of characters is also strong.  There is Carey Chen, a former slacker and pot dealer who has turned out to be an excellent leader.  His right hand is Rhys Moreno, who seems to have a soft spot for Sloane.  Also present are Trace and Grace, devoted twins, whose loyalties lie with each other instead of with the group.  Lastly, there's Harrison, a pathetic freshman who never should have survived for so long. The group dynamic between these characters was really superb, tense while never crossing over into tiresome melodrama territories.  

To compliment the strong characterization, there is a decent plot.  The pace of the story is not driving, in fact it moves fairly slowly, but it kept my interest.  What occupies the characters are the particulars of surviving in the deserted school, the surprising reappearance of a familiar face, and the directives of a woman's voice on the radio, who repeats her message in an endless loop.

As for the writing, Summers' voice is decidedly unsentimental, which is rare in YA.  I wasn't sure, while reading, if the tone of the writing was Summers' usual style, or if it was adopted to reflect Sloane's mindset.  It's partly matter-of-fact, partly terse, and partly descriptive.  It's hard to put a finger on. I'd be interested in reading more of Summers' work to find out.

Speaking of more of Summers' work, she surprised readers by announcing that she's putting out a sequel to This Is Not a Test, titled Please Remain Calm.  The book will be told from the perspective of another survivor from book one, who I'm excited to hear from.  The book comes out in January 2015, scant months away.  You can bet I'll be lining up to read it.

I give This Is Not a Test 3.5 north stars out of five.


  1. I so loved this book! And I'm dying to get my hands on the sequel. I thought there was a refreshing honesty here, and the family situation Sloane escaped from seemed realistic. Because zombie apocalypse or not, people had a life before everything went to hell. I loved that part of the book. So well done. :)

    1. I'm so glad you liked it, too! I agree, in regards to the honesty. Sloane didn't delude herself in the slightest.