Second Look: This is Not a Test by Courteney Summers

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Title:  This is Not a Test
Author:  Courteney Summers
Genre:  Zombie Apocalypse
Age: 15+  (Violence, Suicide, Sexual Situations)

Plot Summary
After the prologue, the reader is thrust into Sloane’s new world when we find her and a group of six other teens hiding out in the local high school.  What are they hiding from?  Zombies, of course!  (Though Summers never actually uses the word ‘zombie,’ but rather “the dead.”)  The story follows the month-long stay in the high school.  However, things aren’t so easy for Sloane and her fellow survivors.  There’s built-in tension between Trace and the “leader,” Cary.  Trace and his twin sister, Grace, hold Cary responsible for the deaths of their parents.

As time progresses, they find someone has snuck into the school, despite their careful efforts at barricading the doors.  Mr. Baxter, their former English teacher, is not infected, but they don’t trust him.  When the their suspicions become too powerful, they force him to leave the safety of the school.

Throughout the story, told in Sloane’s point-of-view, the reader is stuck in Sloane’s head as she tries to come to terms with still being alive — something she desperately wants to remedy.  Sloane wants to die, which taints the story’s survivor slant.  However, (SPOILER ALERT), she doesn’t.  But, maybe she has something to live for in her companion, Rhys.

Likes and Dislikes contain spoilers!

LIKES

  • The writing was fluid.  It was easy to get into the story, even though I’m not a fan of the zombie apocalypse genre.  I read the book quickly, which would make me interested in reading more of Summers’ novels.
  • The dynamic between the characters is well-done.  Summers builds the tension and gives several of the characters solid backstories, which can be hard to do with a single POV.

DISLIKES

  • Sloane’s suicidal tendencies.  While, this is a new take on the zombie apocalypse response, and it did make sense in Sloane’s character, I wasn’t really feeling it.  It almost seemed half-hearted and a way for Summers to add drama between characters.  It’s also left unresolved by the end of the novel.
  • THE END.  It literally ends with a cliffhanger, and to my knowledge, there’s no plans for a sequel.  It was very unsatisfying.  And, again, it could be Summers leaving it open-ended for the reader to make their own decisions, I wasn’t a fan of it, after spending so much time (over 300 pages), hoping they survived.

Read-a-Likes

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Rating… 7/10 stars.

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