Monday, June 11, 2012

Review: This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

From Goodreads: 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?

My Rating: 4.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: I’ve never been a big fan of zombies – I mean, when was the last time you read about zombies being sparkly and not wanting to eat humans? – but since I’m trying to read more books written by Canadian authors this year, I decided to request Courtney Summers’ This is Not a Test. I’m so glad I did because I just fell in love with a zombie novel for the first time!

This is Not a Test begins innocently enough with Sloane and her father quietly eating breakfast. But after the house shakes, Sloane’s father is suddenly killing a woman covered in blood and people are tearing into each other. I thought the start of This is Not a Test was fantastic since you dive into the action right away.

Summers then keeps you tense throughout the novel by making the main setting a school where Sloane and a few others barricade themselves while waiting for help to arrive. With nobody having a clue about what’s happening outside, there’s a constant latent threat that zombies will somehow find a way to break into the school or that the kids will eventually run out of food and have to venture out.

Besides the tightly written plot, I also enjoyed the characterization in This is Not a Test. Although Sloane was the main character, Summers developed each of her teens to such an extent that I ended up caring for all of them. The secondary characters actually felt as if they were more than secondary characters because everyone had their own secrets, motivations and experiences.

Since This is Not a Test felt like a survival story that just happened to have zombies in it, I was happy that Summers’ characters experienced believable emotions. They cooperated with each other; but they also fought, cried, and formed subgroups. Furthermore, I really liked that Summers didn’t shy away from having her characters make tough choices and sacrifice people for the greater good of the group.

My first Courtney Summers’ novel but certainly not my last, This is Not a Test will be released by St. Martin’s Griffin on June 19, 2012.         

Comments About the Cover: I don’t know what’s going on with the girl and her hair, but I like the melancholy vibe as it goes perfectly with Sloane’s decision to kill herself. The little droplets of blood are a nice additional touch.

In exchange for an honest review, this ARC was received from the publisher (Raincoast Books) for free.
original image from


  1. YEAH!!! I'm so not a fan of zombies either, so I'm excited that you loved this one despite the fact that there are zombies in it. It sounds like the characters are outstanding, and that's always most important for me:) Excited to try this one now Z!

  2. Z, we're like twins today! Two Canadian girls posting about a Canadian author book with a 4.5 rating and a whole lot of love for it -- think anyone will believe us when we say it wasn't planned? :') I loved the beginning of This is Not a Test so much too because of how quickly we got attached to Sloane!

    Amazing review, Z! :) <3

  3. OH MY GOD. *tries to unread the cover comments* AH. She kills herself?! I guess it's good that I'm not a zombie fan and that I probably wouldn't read this book anyway (though I was really considering it). I've read so many amazing things about this book, but I just really don't like zombies. However, fabulous review, Zahida! :) I'm glad you enjoyed this book. Hopefully you'll love Courtney's other books as well!

  4. It's like you wrote this review just for me because I've been trying to find a zombie book that I might like, and let me tell you, it hasn't easy. LOL

    I love it when the secondary characters are more than just back ground noise. I have yet to read a Summers novel and I think I might start with this one.

  5. Huh, I didn't expect a high rating from you on this one Z due to the zombies aspect. I'm not a zombie girl either, but if you get over that hurdle then I should make an effort to do so too and pick this one up. The only zombie book I liked was "Forest of Hands and Teeth" though I did have wacked out dreams afterwards. I think I might wait for Halloween to read this one.

  6. Awesome! I think zombies are cool on movies but I really don't like to read about them. But as I have complete faith in your taste in books, I will so definitely give this one a shot.

  7. I do actually quite like the scary, brain eating zombie stories, but I think I could definitely dig this as well. At least, I know I always appreciate it when the character development is done well. Dang, it really sounds like Courtney Summers did a great job with this one! You've completely sold me!

  8. This is a good soild read with flawed characters that get into your head. I loved it up until the open ending. Very powerful and yes the secondary characters are all strong!

  9. This sounds good! I love how the action starts right away. Also,

    "I really liked that Summers didn’t shy away from having her characters make tough choices and sacrifice people for the greater good of the group."

    I feel so brutal and cold-hearted, but I almost said "YES!" out loud when I read that :P


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