BOOK REVIEW: This is Not a Test, by Courtney Summers

Date(s) read: September 12 -15, 2012
Genre: YA Horror

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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 wantto 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 doyou hold on to?

My Thoughts
There aren’t a lot of things in the book world that scare me. I’ve read lots of scary books, but I wouldn’t say that I finished any of them wanting to leave the lights on or wanting to read something lighter afterwards. Books just don’t do that for me. And really, this book, This is Not a Test, didn’t do that for me, either, but rather, it was a book that had me completely taken from the second I saw its book trailer.

Let me just give you a minute to watch it so you can see what I mean.


This book trailer freaked me right out and I knew I had to read the book. I had also read one other book by Courtney Summers (who’s a Canadian author, by the way) and really enjoyed the writing style and story, so that bumped this one up a few more notches on my “must read” scale.

This is a book about zombies, but it’s also not a book about zombies. Something has happened and zombies are attacking people. Sloane has taken up residence with her friends at a local school. They’ve boarded up the windows and doors and nothing is getting in. Or so they think.

This is a story about Sloane and her relationship with her father and her sister, before the zombie outbreak, as well as the relationship between Sloane and her friends as they struggle to survive. While it wasn’t a book that I finished with major feelings of love, it was a story I enjoyed immensely.

Most of this stems from the characters. Courtney Summers knows how to write her characters. There were times when I really liked the main character, Sloane, and other times that I really hated her. I wanted to feel sorry for her and her situation, but sometimes she made it so hard. The same goes for the other characters in the story. Trace was a character I despised from the beginning – he has one of those uber-cocky attitudes and is just (for lack of a better word) an ass from start to finish. Even when things get a little more traumatizing for him, I had a hard time liking him.

On the other hand, we have a character like Harrison, who is really on the back burner for most of the book. I remember commenting on it a few times as I was reading, how I got to know all of the characters at the school, except for Harrison. He was very quite, young, and sort of reminded me of a character from a Julie Kagawa book I had read, The Immortal Rules. There’s a character called Stick who has no backbone and just drove me crazy with his whininess. Harrison and Stick would get along well.

But aside from the characters, there was also the story. Courtney Summers writes a fantastic story that is just dripping suspense. But don’t be fooled! It doesn’t come at you all at once. No, this is a story that has a slow build up to the very end, so it may come across as quite slow in the beginning. The great thing is, though, that Courtney Summers is a fantastic writer; you’ll find yourself lost (as I was) in the writing and the characters. There’s a definite plot happening, as well as some major plot twists, but this is very much a character-driven novel.

And still, this is a book that involves zombies, so you have to expect gore. There is PLENTY of gore. There were parts where I found myself recoiling because of something that was written. It’s not pretty, but gore never is.

This was a great, emotional read that is perfect for someone like me, who is just easing into the zombie books. They’re not the first and foremost thing of the story, so be forewarned.

Oh, and lastly, can I just talk about the cover and how awesome it is? This was another thing that attracted me to this book. The cover was just so eye-catching and gory – we get the blood, the lack of a face on the girl, the weird angle of her neck, and the static around the main title that signifies the radio recording the kids listen to in the book. It’s fantastic!


© 2012, Reading In Winter. All rights reserved.


12 thoughts on “BOOK REVIEW: This is Not a Test, by Courtney Summers

    • Thanks, Megan! I thought it was a good read and there really aren’t a lot of zombies, but lots of zombie talk. I still recommend it! Courtney Summers is a really good writer!

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  2. The cover was definitely eye catching! I loved the blood on some of the pages in the book, and the letter at the end was creepy too. This book was really good, but I’m glad it was divided between the characters and the zombie action. 🙂

  3. Wow I had never seen the trailer for this one before nor did I know that Summers was a Canadian author. I loved this books before but now it is even MORE epic in my mind. I remember feeling so empty reading this book… It’s bleak. Very bleak. I’m happy you really liked it! I want more! There is definitely an opportunity for more.

    • Yes! She’s Canadian! I think the trailer is what made me REALLY want to read the book. Of course, I’ve read another book by Summers and really liked her writing style, so that was a huge thing, too.

    • SO CREEPY!!

      I really liked this book — it may not have been love, but I have huge respect for Courtney Summers’s writing. She’s great at mixing so many elements into her books!

My home is where my books are. - Ellen Thompson

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