This is Not a Test

This is Not a Test

Book rating: 04 Paperback

By (author) Courtney Summers

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  • Publisher: Saint Martin's Griffin,U.S.
  • Format: Paperback | 320 pages
  • Dimensions: 137mm x 208mm x 23mm | 227g
  • Publication date: 9 July 2012
  • Publication City/Country: California
  • ISBN 10: 0312656742
  • ISBN 13: 9780312656744
  • Sales rank: 14,302

Product description

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?

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Author information

Courtney Summers is the author of young adult novels including "Fall for Anything," "Some Girls Are," and "Cracked Up to Be." She lives and writes in Canada, where she divides her time between a piano, a camera, and a word-processing program when she's not planning for the impending zombie apocalypse.

Customer reviews

By Julie Rimpula 05 Sep 2014 4

It's not everyday that I come across a good zombie story. But This is Not A Test is beyond good. This is brilliant, a well-written zombie novel that's not all gore and violence. It has enough drama, suspense and emotion to keep you reading. More than an apocalyptic novel, This is Not A Test is a story on what it truly means to survive.


Sloane Price is suicidal and has no sense of self-preservation whatsoever. I find her interesting as the main character and narrator of the story because her thoughts and instincts go against everything that one is supposed to do in her situation. She's depressed and well, considering her past, it's not a surprise that she wants to just end everything for her even when the world around her is on the verge of ending, too. But despite her suicidal tendencies, Sloane possesses strength that she's not even aware of. And that's where the other characters come into the picture. Somehow, they all helped Sloane find her courage and heart to survive.

The prose is really good and poignant. Courtney Summers knows how to use her words to maximum effect, whether the scene involves running away from zombies or making out with a boy in the locker room or just happening inside Sloane's head. Every page seeps with emotion that my heart practically aches for Sloane and all that she's lost. The writing is that vivid and effective. There's not much in character development though, because Sloane basically stays the same all throughout save for one major change in her towards the end. The other characters, too. (At least the ones who made it to the end.)

Tragic is only one way to describe it but I guess that's what happens when the world, or at least your town, gets overrun by zombies. Not everyone makes it and the ones who do are never really safe. This is Not A Test is an ironic story of a girl who survived even when she didn't want to. And in surviving, she gets better and stronger, if not whole. A really good read.

By Vickie Ramage 26 Mar 2014 5

Argh *zombie noises* Can zombies be excited about really great zombie books? Because if they could I bet they would be excited about this one. This Is Not A Test is a horror/zombie tale with a strong contemporary feel and somehow, that just works. With contemporary, I sometimes find myself a little bored as the pace feels slower. However This Is Not A Test kept up the contemporary tone and feel but also kept the action and sense of danger, despite the majority of the book being set in just one building. I would say this was one of the scariest zombie books I have ever read.

My heart really went out for Sloane, her life was just rubbish, seriously. She was constantly being beaten up by her father, like seriously beaten up, the can't go to school because the bruises are showing type. On top of that her sister had recently run away and now there's actual real life (dead life?) zombies banging on the doors. She was so broken I wasn't sure we were going to make it to the end of the first couple of chapters with her, let alone the whole book. She had literally lost the will to live, in the worst possible time.

The other characters had their own faults too, although I won't lie, I kept getting Cary and Rys mixed up at times. I felt that the most interesting person was Harrison, who was one of those wet type of guys who I would probably shoot first or use at bait during a zombie apocalypse. While he moans and complains about not having one anything in his short life, he won't do anything about it either. He's more than happy to follow around whoever he senses as the leader. However I didn't hate him as much as I hated Trace. He was damaged, having just lost his parents but his twin sister Grace didn't act anywhere near as much of a ass as he did. Every time he started getting at Cary it set my teeth on edge.

At around 95% I was wondering how Courtney would end the book and if there would be unfinished questions or if she'd kill everyone off at that point but somehow in the little bit of extra percent left, she managed to finish off the story perfectly. There was unanswered questions but I felt like it ended in the right place. I enjoyed her writing style so much I went out the next day and bought two more of her books. I would happily read a sequel to this or more zombie books though...

By Isa Vidigal 19 Oct 2013 5

tw: domestic abuse
tw: suicide

This was such a brutal book! For those expecting mindless zombie carnage, look somewhere else - yes, there is some of it in the book, but that's not its main focus. Instead, This is Not a Test focuses on people. On who they are, on how they react, on what that tells us about them.

Our main character, Sloane, has lost the will to live. Is it the hopelessness of the Apocalypse, you ask? No, it's the hopelessness of being trapped with an abusive parent in a absolutely normal world. The hopelessness of being alone, since her sister and only friend, has left her alone with the abuser. So when the Apocalypse strikes, Sloane isn't particularly upset. It's merely a change of plans, she doesn't mean to hang around for long, this is just a another way to leave.

But Sloane finds herself trapped in her high-school with other survivors: her former classmates with whom she never really connected.

This was masterfully written. When abuse is addressed in books you seldom witness the loneliness, the inability to form relationships other people take for granted, because your life is defined by the abuse. Courtney Summers did not shy away from that.

And while they all struggle to survive, and conflicts arise from living in such close quarters, Sloane sits quietly with her secret: she doesn't intend to survive.

By Patrícia Pilar Pecegueiro 02 May 2013 5

It's so hard for me to talk about this book. I don't want to forget it, I don't want to read anything after this, I feel kind of numb actually, and I sure don't want... I don't even know what I want or don't want anymore. All I really do know is that This is Not a Test has touched me incredibly, and I seriously hope I'll never be in a situation like the one Sloane or any other character from the group, was. It's desperation to its maximum. It's constant fear. It's dealing with the unknown, with the infected ones, the starved ones, who will haunt you, hunt you, chase you and eat you at the first chance they get. This story is so well written, the characters are so astonishingly damaged and scared and lost, the plot is so damn emotional and raw and thrilling and mysterious... that anything can happen and everything undoubtedly will.

I fell in love with Sloane at first line. I'm still in love with her. I'm still in love with Rhys, and Cary, and Harrison, and Grace, and even with Trace. I absolutely love them all, because every single one of them is special, was special, in their own way, and every single one of them served a purpose. Not all had a happy ending-or when you come to really think about it, they just might have had their happy ending-but they were certainly all memorable. Sloane for her numbness and persistence, Rhys for his passion and loyalty, Cary for his leadership and strength, Harrison for the innocent panicked comments and questions that somehow made me laugh even when they were not intended to be funny, Grace for her beauty and forgiving will, and Trace... Trace for his devotion to his sister and his beliefs and, of course, his edgy side that always kept me in alert mode. But more than just a book with remarkable characters, this is a story about tension, about sacrifice, guilt and about being unable to move on, to subsist, when all we care about and everyone we love are simply taken away from us. It's a book about will, about what's truly important, and more importantly, about survival.

Nothing could have ever prepared me for the journey I was about to enter when I started this novel. Ingenuously, maybe, I thought I was going to read a cool book about zombies-I admit, I haven't read many living dead stories so my curiosity was really high-but this ends up being so much more than that. In fact, this is not a zombie book. This is a book about a group of kids who clearly have no idea or are even prepared for what just happened to them and to their city and that, somehow, have to manage to survive together... oh, and with some zombies in the mix. What I mean with this is that the zombies are just a small piece of this overwhelming puzzle, and although their presence is a heavy burden, they are not the main core of the book or the reason-in my opinion-why this story was written.

I will always cherish this book deeply. I felt it in my bones, with my entire being, and whenever I had the opportunity to turn some pages, I would go completely oblivious to the world. I would hear nothing, see nothing, and speak nothing. Gosh, what a powerful experience this reading was! It's so wonderful when, a day or two later, you can still sense the characters around you, sense the pressure they were under, and still think about them like they were real to you, like they exist. To me, that's the most gratifying gift an author can give me.
At the end of the day, I just wish I was Sloane's sister and that Lily would continue to be a ghost in her life. I wish I knew what happens next, 'cause that ending was literally to die for. I guess, ultimately, I just wished there was more, because I need more, I want more. Absolutely amazing.

By Brenna Staats 16 Aug 2012 3

Zombie books seem to be growing in popularity and that's something that I have no complaints about! I've mentioned before that I have a certain weakness for zombie films, and books are no exception to this.
But what I found particularly intriguing about This Is Not a Test is how the zombie storyline serves more as a backdrop to the real story; which deals much more with Sloane's personal growth and development than anything else. That's something largely unexpected in a zombie book, but it does make for something new.

It does a fantastic job of questioning who the real zombies are - the killer undead wandering around outside, or the absolutely broken and shattered living girl who can't feel anything?

Reasons to Read:

1.A zombie book with depth:

Like I mentioned above, it's really great to see that there's so much more to this than just undead humans trying to kill living people (with some good old government conspiracy thrown in). Sloane is desperately unhappy and angry; quite frankly, she really isn't concerned with her survival at all. Which makes it rather interesting to throw her into a survival scenario. And it's so enriching to see what the motives are behind her actions, and the changes which take place to her as her situation moves along. And it's especially interesting because Sloane doesn't feel like she's really missing out on anything with the zombies taking over- her life wasn't any better before that happened.

2.Realistically scary:

Even though the zombies don't play a huge role in the story, they do create a very effective setting just by being there - it's like a looming dark shadow over the entire plot. And the fact that everything is so still, so quiet for such a long time it just makes the reader more anxious for that JUMP moment. And there are so many other dark, frightening aspects to it that add to the overall ambiance - it's impossible to escape. But these other aspects are ones we can easily relate to because they're so familiar to our society and happen all the time (as unfortuante as it is). That feeling of loneliness and losing those we care about - that's terrifying.

But unfortunately, I found that there wasn't quite enough development of the story for it to really appeal to me as a reader. I applaud Courtney Summers for being able to create a rich zombie book with so much more going on than zombies - but I also have to admit that I was expecting a bit more action, and to identify with the main character both of which I found to be areas lacking.

I wasn't particularly taken with many of the secondary characters either - it was understandable that they would be upset and angry, but it seemed like they were all working against each other in rather petty ways simply to get back revenge. Every character lacked an idea of what they needed to accomplish in the long-term, and ended up stuck on short term desires. Normally I would expect such heavy, dark books to move me but for whatever reason I found it far too difficult to root for any character because I just couldn't identify. And without that relationship, I couldn't LOVE the book although I can clearly see why so many others would.

Courtney's talent as a writer is exceptional and beautiful; lovely imagery, and captivating words that draw you in. A zombie book that truly stands out among the rest- it even has a vaguely contemporary feel to it, which could make it appeal to a large group of readers.

E-galley received from publisher for my honest review; no other compensation was received.

Review quote

""This Is Not a Test" is both "sexy" and desolate, and it will blast a hole through your heart, yet somehow start to stitch it back together again"--Daisy Whitney, author of "The Mockingbirds" and "The Rivals""Courtney Summers is a ferocious talent in YA fiction. "This Is Not a Test" brought me to tears, caused me to gasp in shock in public places, and almost put a stop to my heart . . . Summers' voice is raw with emotion, and utterly right for the impending zombie apocalypse."--Nova Ren Suma, author of "Imaginary Girls""[Courtney Summers] blends all the perfection and simplicity that defines her writing so well with this added paranormal element for a snappy, exciting story I just couldn't stop reading, and then I got to the very end and realized that it was about so much more than just making it out alive."--Julie Cross, author of "Tempest""Intriguing.... It takes some artistic guts to set a portrayal of a suicidal teenager amid attacking zombies, but Summers has a history of risky choices.... Unusual and absorbing."--"Kirkus"