Thursday 27 June 2013

Book Review: This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

It is not a zombie book either. 

No. Not really. And that's why, having bought this back in January 2013 it has taken me nearly six months to complete it.

I didn't buy this on Kindle. I bought the paperback version. I still can't make out who it is on the front cover.

But these details aren't that important. What is important, however, is a good story, with good characters, and for the first hundred pages or so, I was waiting for something definitive to happen.

I didn't like the f-word on practically every page. It made the characters more unlikable, but I stuck with it because the premise of the children stuck in the school was good. Not original - but who cares, so long as it is told well.

This, is where Miss Summers raises the story above an average yarn. The in-fighting reminded me of Lord of the Flies - a good book which was spoiled by having it rammed down our throats at school.

I have never read that story again, and I was pretty sure I wouldn't give this book a second read, because I doubted I could complete it the first time around.

Nothing seemed to be happening, but - (see spoilers below) when it really got going, it was unputdownable. I have read the remaining 220 pages this afternoon.

This is Not a Test is not so much about zombies - though their inclusion is well written and satisfyingly executed. What it is about is surviving - day by day, down to second by second.

In some cases that reflects the struggles of many people today, who battle every single moment in order to survive.

Replace zombies with bills at the door, and you will know what I mean.

Sloane is without doubt the best written character in the book. I couldn't feel much for the others until much later. Miss Summers doesn't give you it all in the first chapter...instead she lets us peel away the layers - much like the zombies rotting skin, to reveal their true feelings, true angst, and the 'what the hell do I do now?' that they feel at every turn of the page.

I'm not a prude. I don't mind profanity - and yes, I would use it myself in this situation! Just a little less would be good.

So. It gets four stars for an amazingly gripping 220 pages. The first 100 failed to take off for me, but I still love this book.

It's got zombies in it, but what it mainly has is an emotional impact rarely experienced in YA novels. That hit me harder than any of the zombies going on the attack.

A solid, super read.

Well done Courtney Summers :)


Thank Heavens for Mr Baxter then! When he arrives, around page 120 or so, things really kick off.

The back story of Lily and Sloane is so emotional - it's brilliantly well done, and you would have to be made of stone - or just 'cold' like the zombies themselves, not to feel something for the girls and their awful father (putting it mildly).