Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Review of This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

This is Not a Test

Title: This Is Not a Test
Author: Courtney Summers
Pages: 323
Publication Date: June 19th, 2012
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Source: Purchased myself

Back Cover

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 bit 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 onto?

First Lines

"Lily, I woke up and the last piece of my heart disappeared. I opened my eyes and I felt it go."

In a Sentence

There are some things in life you can only see through death.

My Thoughts

I remember how excited I was to read this book when it first came out. I mean, I'm one of those people who hears the word zombie and my ears instantly perk up. I read review after raving review, and finally bit the book-buying bullet when I read Kendra's from Novel Sounds rave coverage of it. (I also listened to her song picks for the book while writing this review, which you should totally check out as well). Furthermore, I'd heard a ton of great things about Courtney Summers from several of my favorite bloggers, so I figured I'd kill two birds with one stone and read about zombies while checking another author off my try-for-the-first-time list.

However, as many of you have experienced personally, buying a book doesn't always means you get to read it right away. This book sat on my shelf for about six months before I got around to it (which sadly, is a pretty short for me these days). But I was DETERMINED to read it over Christmas break so I could finally see what all the fuss was about. And I can tell you this right off the bat...all the fuss is definitely well-deserved. I'm still not entirely sure that I've completely wrapped my head around everything that Summers managed to do with This Is Not a Test, but I loved that it kept me thinking about the story long after I turned the final page. In fact, I have at least three other book reviews that I needed to write before writing this one, but after finishing This Is Not a Test, I immediately felt compelled to share my thoughts, so I decided to bump it up on my review list. 

I know other bloggers have said this before (though forgive me for forgetting where I first heard it), but I wanted to say it as well: This Is Not a Test is a zombie book, but it's so much more than that. In fact, I would highly recommend it to readers who are fans of zombies OR compelling, contemporary fiction, because it really does fit into both of those categories. And along with a compelling storyline, This Is Not a Test takes an in-depth look at a variety of complex themes that would appeal to those readers who are looking for a little more depth in their stories. 

I have to admit...this is one of those reviews that was difficult for me to write. There's so much that I loved about this book, and I feel like I could spend hours talking about it in a literature class, but I also don't want to ruin the experience for anyone else. I think one of the reasons why I enjoyed the book so much was that all I knew about it going in was that it was a book about zombies and a girl with a death wish. My recommendation for those of you who haven't heard a lot about the actual details of the story is to keep it that way. I think you'll enjoy it more. As far as my final thoughts? This is a book you don't want to miss.


Not sure about this review? Compare our tastes in books. (Goodreads)


Really liked it


  1. I love those kind of books! The kind that just scream "talk about me" "discuss me" .....I felt that way about Gone Girl when I was finished. I think I asked complete strangers if they had read it LOL

    1. I've heard a LOT of great things about Gone Girl. I definitely need to add it to my wishlist! You know it's a good book when you feel compelled to talk to strangers about it! Lol.

  2. Oh I loved this one so much. This was my first Courtney Summers book and I remember thinking that if she was such a "beautiful" writer with a zombie book, imagine how lovely her contemporary books could be?? So I read Fall For Anything not too long after this one and fell in love with it too. And I can say with certainty that I'm a fan of her work. I just need to read all of it.

    I loved the zombie-ness, and the fact that it was light on the zombie-ness. And that it also felt somehow real or contemporary through even the zombie-ness. Does that make sense at all? That even though it isn't real, it felt real? I just thought it was a great book, a great standalone. So glad you liked it and finally got around to it.

    Great thoughts, Natalie!

    1. I've heard so many things about Fall for Anything (and all of her other books), and they are definitely going on my wishlist! This gal is definitely a talented writer!

      And I TOTALLY understand every word you wrote in that second paragraph. That's exactly how I felt about it! She just handled the entire thing so masterfully!

      Thanks for stopping by! :)

  3. This was a GREAT book! I really liked it. Of course, I'm not big (yet) on the whole zombie thing, so I think the thing I liked most was the fact that the zombies weren't the big thing in the book. And Courtney Summers is just such a kick ass writer ... this was my second book by her, so I can't wait to keep reading her stuff!

    1. I will definitely be reading more of her in the future! Like I said (and you mentioned), I couldn't believe how well she handled the whole zombies thing...making it enjoyable for people who loved them AND people who didn't. Awesome!

  4. I am truly the worst about getting super-excited about a book, buying it, hugging it when it arrives and then putting it on my shelf to gather dust for the next pile of months. *sigh* Too many awesome books, too little time. And I've heard amazing things about this book, too, but haven't yet read it. I'm gonna have to get on that..

    1. Ugh. Ditto. It's like OH MY GOD THE PRETTY BOOK! I WANT TO READ IT NOW! And suddenly, it's been a year. Lol!

  5. YaY! Glad to see your review!

    I have this one and have been itching to get to it, but it will be a while yet before I can do just that. Now, I'm more stoked to get to it more than ever!! YES!

    Have a great holiday season!!

  6. Great review!

    I absolutely loved this book and I think it's the best book Courtney Summers have ever written so far. She should consider writing more zombie books in the future . . . she has a clear knack for it!

  7. Hi Natalie- nice to see you around again! I loved this book and like you, this was the first Courtney Summers novel I've read and I also bought a copy because of all the wonderful reviews. I actually gave my copy to a friend of mine after reading it (it was part of her b-day gift so it gave me the push I needed to sit down and read it). It's so fabulous. I love zombies too, but I really love a well-done contemporary and this one is definitely that. I can't wait to read more by Summers.


  8. Oh yeah, this book was so good! It's one of the few I would like to reread. I haven't read any of her other books, would love to. I'm glad you liked this one Natalie!

  9. Oh good to see you Natalie!
    I have heard good things about this and I love books that really make you think. One of these days I hope to read it...

  10. So good to have you back, Natalie! I'm glad you're blogging again, although I totally understand why you took a break. I started this one months ago and had to put it aside for a while because it was simply too depressing but I'm determined to go back to it, especially after reading your review. :)

  11. HI NATALIE! i've missed you. you know, i actually felt a bit whelmed reading this after everyone's rave reviews but i really love the idea of it. i think courtney summers is a really strong writer and i like how she doesn't shy away. i'm glad you liked this book so much! hope to see you around. :)

  12. As a fan of contemporary fiction, this book really worked for me. I don't actively seek out zombie novels but after hearing that this one wasn't so much a zombie novel, I figured it would work and it did. My favorite Summers novel so far!

  13. Hey Nat, it's great to see you blogging again! I hope your classes are going well :)

    I am always happy to hear that this book is more than a zombie book because while I don't mind reading about zombies, they're not my fave topic! I have a copy of this, I hope I can get to it soon!

    1. p.s You've been added to our blogroll xox

  14. THis sounds fantastic, I really need to make a point to read it.
    Happy reading,
    Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

  15. natalie!! this book was amazing. omg there were so many intense moments and i was a right mess by the end. she is such a talented writer.

  16. I've been on the fence with this one, though I do own a copy. You've definitely encouraged me to finally pick it up! Thanks! :)

  17. Yay, it's so wonderful to have you back in the blogshere, Natalie! I adored this book, and your comment about it being an in-depth novel exploring a variety of complicated themes is spot on. I'm really glad you were a fan! Now, are you going to read the author's excellent contemporary novels, too? :) With my strong recommendation? ;)

    And happy holidays!

  18. I'm so glad you loved it. I love zombie books but this was different from anything I've read before from that genre. I also think you don't need to like zombies at all to enjoy it.

    Like you said - it's about so much more and kept me thinking as well.

    Merry Christmas!!

  19. I think this may be the first zombie book that I delve into. I don't really get the whole zombie craze, to be honest, and I'm definitely not going to read something just because it's a zombie book (unicorns on the other hand... yes, team unicorn here). But I really like the sound of this one and that it's a also a compelling contemporary story. Thanks for the review Natalie! Glad to see a few posts from you!

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