Book 37: This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers
Summary 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?
I thought that a book about the zombie apocalypse would have had more scenes with zombies in it, but I have to say that I didn’t really miss them. If you’re looking to read a book with a lot of fight scenes and descriptions of zombies, this isn’t the book for you. If, however, you’re looking for a book that deals with real characters and explores how far you can push people before they break, you’ll probably want to read this one for yourself.
We don’t know where the zombies came from. We don’t know if anyone else survived. All we know is that a week after the zombies attack, six students take shelter in Cortege High School. They have a limited supply of food and water, and two of their party have already perished. The radio plays a single warning again and again – telling them to seek immediate shelter, that this is not a test.
I sort of wish the novel addressed where the zombies came from, but it’s not a huge concern. The main focus of this book is on the characters, and what they’ve had to do survive. The characters in this novel are incredibly realistic. Some get along. Some don’t. There are arguments and tears. Relationships are formed and broken. There was really only one character whom I disliked the entire novel, and even then I couldn’t really blame him for his behavior. That was probably the best part of the novel for me – the fact that the characters were so believable. They sounded like real people, not characters created to make a point.
There were really only two downsides to this novel. The first was the narrator, Sloane Price. I feel sorry for her, and I can understand why she begins the novel wanting to die, but the fact that she goes with these people just seems really selfish to me. She wastes a ton of water. She eats the food. She slows them down. And on top of all of that, she keeps saying that she wants to die. II just sort of wanted her to just pick one and stick with it.
The other downside was the ending. I’m not going to give anything away, but it just seemed like it was rushing to get nowhere. There’s about 250 pages of relatively low amounts of action, and then all of a sudden big things start happening. It almost feels like Summers didn’t know how to end it, so she just started throwing stuff together. The ending’s not quite that bad, but it’s close, or at least it seems that way to me. I would have given the first two-thirds of this book full credit, but the ending just sort of didn’t live up to my expectations at that point.
Overall, though, I still really enjoyed this book, and I would recommend it others. Summers has a very interesting writing style that just sort of pulls you into the story, and made the book so much more enjoyable.