Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publication Date: June 19th, 2012
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?
(Courtesy of Goodreads)
This book has gotten some seriously rave reviews! Every time I turn around, one of my blogger peers is gushing over This Is Not a Test. Between that and the fact that this book involves zombie apocalypse, I was sold; I definitely went into to reading it with high expectations. I was forewarned that although this book was an end-of-the-world story, complete with a zombie invasion, that it was actually NOT a zombie story. I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed when I heard that; I was really looking forward to loads of action and hard-core fighting-zombies-in-order-to-preserve-the-human-race stuff. Still, I went on to read it, and while I can't necessarily say I enjoyed it, I did think it was very well done.
There are a few parts of the book that involve some of the aforementioned (zombie fighting and action), but this story was more about the protagonist, Sloane, coming to terms with the abuse she suffered at the hands of her father, the loss of her older sister, the desire to escape it all, and her internal struggle over whether or not her feelings have changed now that her circumstances have. Holed up in a school with five other kids her age, Sloane doesn't know if she wants to go on, but she knows that if she offs herself, she puts the others at risk, and so the struggle goes. This book primarily takes place inside Sloane's head, and I have to say that she is a piece of work- I'm still undecided on whether or not I liked her. I know she is damaged, so I never faulted her for her lack of likability, but I couldn't connect with her either. As for the other characters, I didn't really find most of them very likable either. Rhys was alright, and he seemed to really care for Sloane, but he was so guarded. Grace had her kindness to redeem her somewhat, but her spinelessness when it came to her brother pretty much cancelled that out. Cary seemed to at least have a survival instinct that was much more developed than any of the others, and was probably the reason they made it as far as they did, but he knew it and didn't hesitate to remind everyone at every opportunity. Trace was a total douche and Harrison was absolutely worthless. Since I have kind of a hard time with books that don't involve people I like, I a bit struggled with This Is Not a Test. As for the story, it was very well written. The emotions came through the pages in a very real, very raw way. I actually had to pick up a different book than I intended after reading this because I needed something light; this book really gutted me at times. I felt kind of depressed and hopeless after reading it, and that didn't sit well with me.
Overall, while I think this book definitely has a large audience who will love it, I just didn't. I read for escape, and this book didn't do that for me. That said, I will admit that it was extremely well written, and I loved that it was a totally unique take on the woe-is-me-let-me-come-to-terms-with-myself YA Contemporary, I just didn't feel good after reading it...
My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½
Grade Level Recommendation: This book is really heavy emotionally. There is also some sex, teen drinking, lots of language, and violence. I would say this book is most appropriate for grades 9 and up (ages 14+).