Paperback, 323 pages
Published June 19th 2012 by St. Martin's Griffin
Synopsis 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?
To be honest, This Is Not A Test was not a book I was anticipating reading, but when I realized that my library had a copy on order, I went ahead and requested it. I'm glad I did, because I really enjoyed reading it. The plot was very good and the writing and pacing were perfect. It got quite intense at times, but there were also plenty of quiet, reflective moments to balance out the story.
When we are introduced to the protagonist, Sloane, we learn that she is physically abused by her father, her mother is dead, and her older sister ran away to escape their father. Sloane is understandably miserable and looking for her own escape. I found it very easy to sympathize with Sloane even though I couldn't personally relate to her situation. Things quickly change for Sloane when zombies break in through the picture window of her house. Sloane sees her escape from her father and her escape from life - she rushes outside hoping to be done in by the zombies. Flash forward 7 days, and Sloane has joined 5 other teens as they seek refuge in their high school. Everyone except Sloane is in full on survival mode.
Each of the 6 teens are unique and have their own distinct personality. The negative and positive aspects of each character are made apparent during their interactions and confrontations. It is because of the differences in the characters that a lot conflict occurs within the group. There is also tons of conflict within each character. I felt that all of the characters were well developed and they all had growth throughout the book.
This is not a story about zombies. And it's not just about the characters themselves, but more about the desperation the characters feel, and how they learn to deal with what appears to be a hopeless situation. They play off each other's strengths and weaknesses as they fight for survival. As the story moves forward, you can really feel their determination and drive just to survive. You'll find yourself caring about each one of them.
Personally, I would have preferred either an explanation for the zombies, or at the very least, a little more background info on the zombies. And with the teenagers in such seclusion, I often found myself wondering what was going on in the outside world and how far and wide the zombies had spread. I will admit that the lack of communication with the outside world added tons of suspense to the story, but I just wanted to know more. And I would really love to know what happens next.
Overall, I thought this was a really well written story and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Highly recommended for non-zombie lovers (like me) who enjoy character driven storylines.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars