(Image from Barnes & Noble)
Most people fear the end of the world. Not Sloane Price. She welcomes it. Ever since her older sister took off, leaving Sloane to deal with her abusive father alone, she's been longing for the blissful nothingness of death. So, when a zombie outbreak turns her hometown upside down, Sloane's not particularly worried about survival. It's only by chance that a group of her classmates finds her. And saves her.
Now, Sloane and five other teenagers are holed up inside Cortege High School. Although they can hear the undead banging on the doors, the group feels safe enough for now. They've got food, shelter, even water. It won't last forever, but for now, the kids can breathe a little easier. But as the days wear on, it becomes obvious that zombies aren't the only danger they face. Fear, boredom, depression, turf wars, divided loyalties—every little thing becomes a life-or-death struggle for the kids barricaded inside the school.
At first, Sloane feels removed from all the drama. What does it matter, when all she really wants to do is die? But is that still her strongest desire? As the situations inside and outside the school become increasingly desperate, Sloane has to decide what she really wants—to live or to die?
So, I've realized that my favorite zombie novels aren't really about the zombies at all. The allure for me is not in the blood, it's not in the gore, it's in the human reaction to a world gone mad. Which explains why I found This Is Not A Test by Courtney Summers such a riveting read. Because while it is about zombies, it's also not about zombies. It's really about people—six scared teenagers, who are trying their best to survive their fear, their grief, their hunger, their fury. Themselves. The book quickly becomes less horror novel, more psychological thriller, which just makes it more of an edge-of-your-seat, can't-go-to-sleep-until-you-finish-it read. Considering the premise, it won't surprise you to learn that This Is Not A Test is an ultimately hopeful, but in the meantime very bleak and depressing kind of story. No matter. I loved it, still. If you're craving a raw, pulse-pounding zombie adventure, look no further—you just found it.
(Readalikes: Reminds me of Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick as well as other zombie novels, like Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry; I Am Legend by Richard Matheson; The Passage by Justin Cronin; The Enemy by Charlie Higson; The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan; etc. Also reminds me of Trapped by Michael Northrop, although Trapped isn't about zombies.)
If this were a movie, it would be rated: R for strong language, violence/gore, depictions of underage drinking and sexual content
To the FTC, with love: I bought a copy of This Is Not A Test from Amazon with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger. Ha ha.