Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Undercover Wednesday: THIS IS NOT A TEST by Courtney Summers

This Is Not a Test

This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers, June 19, 2012 from St. Martin's Griffin 

From GoodreadsIt’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?

Oh, this book. I don't consider myself to be a zombie girl, but simply put: I ADORED this book. Much like Sarah Dessen, Melina Marchetta, and Lauren Oliver, Courtney Summers can always be counted on to provide a captivating story. This Is Not a Test is full of twists and turns, flawed-but-awesome characters, and a teen voice that rang almost alarmingly authentic. While This Is Not a Test is not regular Courtney Summers contemporary fare, it is just as absorbing, just as unputdownable, as any of her other novels. Possibly more so.

This Is Not a Test begins while the world as we know it comes to an end. A zombie apocalypse is a brilliant backdrop against which to study human—specifically teen—behavior. People’s true colors shine vividly when resources are limited and their lives are at risk. Cortege High School becomes the perfect little microcosm to study the shifting motivations, constantly changing loyalties, and unexpected breaking points of the teens hunkered down inside. And surprisingly, the Dead lurking outside are not the biggest challenge the teens have to face; they torment and torture each other far more than the zombies ever do.  

Main character Sloane Price is another unpredictable element of This Is Not a Test. Her back story proves to be horrifying, but much like the protagonists from other novels written by Courtney Summers, she doesn’t do a whole lot to make herself likable. She's stubborn and self-centered, and she has a tendency to be sort of blind when it comes to the emotions of those around her. Still, Sloane’s so real, so very damaged and vulnerable, it’s hard not to root for her. She thinks the way teens think, and she says what teens—albeit wrecked teens—say. She’s depressed, but she’s smart and fair and loyal when it really counts. I wanted Sloane to pull it together so badly, both for herself and for the other teens stuck inside Cortege High with her—particularly Rhys.

Speaking of Rhys… I won’t give too much away, but awhile back I read a blurb about This Is Not a Test that called the book “sexy.” I had my doubts—this is a story about zombies, for crying out loud. But yeah, I admit it: This Is Not a Test IS sexy. And Rhys? Also sexy. Come to think of it, Trace and Cary (two more boys from Cortege’s group of six) aren’t too shabby either. And Grace, Sloane’s fellow female, is awesome in her own right. Even Harrison, who’s a bit of a cry baby, has his redeeming moments. What does all of this mean? Courtney Summers writes characters who rock. She also writes books that rock! 

I’ll close with one final thought: Read This Is Not a Test when it comes out next month. You will not be disappointed.


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