Tina T is a Beyotch

Have you checked out Tracey Neithercott’s YA Book Club? If you haven’t, you should. Join in, vote on a book, and post a blog about said book within a specified time frame!

August’s pick was THIS IS NOT A TEST by Courtney Summers, a zombie-pocalyptic survival tale. Six high school students hole up in their high school while hordes of the undead mill about outside, ready to maul them and feast on their flesh (much like actual cannibal Shia LaBeouf).

This book is my first Courtney Summers, and it won’t be my last.

Sloane, the MC, is the only one of the six who doesn’t have much at stake in the whole survival game. She is looking for a way out anyway–has been since her sister Lily ran away and left her alone with their abusive father. But oddly, Sloane’s mental disconnect from the situation wasn’t as distancing as I thought it would be. Her voice is spare and gut-wrenching. It’s everything Sloane held back from her fellow survivors. Vulnerable and honest. Scared and lonely.

Some of the reviews I’ve read insist that THIS IS NOT A TEST is not really a zombie book, almost like that’s a compliment. Yes, it’s more of a character study, but I think that Summers knew what she was doing when she chose to pit Sloane against a zombie-pocalypse. Sloane’s inner turmoil gave the zombie thing a solid thematic resonance. She already felt dead inside. How was she much different than the undead banging up against the school doors?

“I wouldn’t have left you like that. Not like she did to me.” I swallow hard. “She always said I’d die without her and she left anyway.”

“But you didn’t die,” He says.

“I did,” I say. “I’m just waiting for the rest of me to catch up.”

What I loved most about this book (and I loved a lot) is that every character had a motive and a story and even the ones you wanted to hate were still heartbreaking and real. Trace, Grace, Harrison, Rhys. And Cary–my God, Cary. They are all good people, as Sloane insists, and even when they do horrible, unforgivable things, you can see their goodness. You have to believe that one tragic, morally ambiguous act doesn’t condemn a person. Because you might have done the same thing, and you’re a good person. Right?

Have you read THIS IS NOT A TEST? What did you think?

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11 comments

    • Crystal says:

      That’s a really good point! And that totally added to how three-dimensional each of the secondary characters were. Grace obviously had her own emotional background that she used to interpret Sloan’s behavior.

  1. Katy Upperman (@katyupperman) says:

    I agree: Definitely a character-study, and I thought the zombie apocalypse was a brilliant setting on which to back these desperate teenagers. Courtney Summers rocks, and I look forward to hearing what you think of her contemporary novels. (I think they’re equally amazing!)

  2. Elodie says:

    This was my second Courtney Summers´ novel and I plan on reading all of her other books. I actually found this book to really be a “zombie” book, as what I especially enjoy about the zombie movies/shows and all is how they can put into perspective emotions, tough choices and every surrounding surviving with the “zombies”. Courtney Summers did that beautifully and like you, I loved the voice and the entire set of characters! Great review, Crystal!

    • Crystal says:

      Yes! See, I don’t understand why everyone says it’s not a zombie book. It’s the epitome of a zombie book… I mean, it’s not a gorefest or anything, but it digs into a lot of the same thematic territory as most zombie movies/shows.

  3. Rebecca Barrow says:

    I loveloveloved this book. I so agree with you, even the characters you wanted to hate you just couldn’t. Like Trace…MAN did I hate him! But then I couldn’t, because of what had happened to him and everything he was feeling, and in the end he was just a scared kid. Courtney Summers’ writing is just amazing.

  4. Rebecca B says:

    I didn’t get a chance to read this one, and now I really wish I had (on the basis of the book club posts today). Sounds really interesting.

  5. Tracey Neithercott says:

    That quote was one of my favorite. And I completely agree that the zombie part of it was a great backdrop for this story about a girl’s struggle between survival and death. I don’t think of it as a zombie story, mainly because with that I think fast-paced, action, and more plot than character. But this wouldn’t have been the same story if it was just about a girl who wants to kill herself and learns to want to live. I think it needed the zombie aspect to highlight Sloan’s struggle, and I think Summers did that so well—especially with the end of the book.

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