THIS IS NOT A TEST by Courtney Summers (Rewind Rec)

Read this if you’re in the mood for: YA, post-apocalyptic world, atmosphere, excellent characterization

Summary: 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?

Read this if you like:
Despite the zombies, a lot of the book centers on the interactions of a group of very different teens stuck in an empty school. It's The Zombie Breakfast Club. No, really. It even has a brain (Harrison), an athlete (Trace), a basket case (Sloane, the main character), a princess (Grace), and a criminal (Cary). And we can't forget about Rhys, this Breakfast Club's swoony and sweet sixth member.

Another zombie novel that centers on people barricaded in a safe-for-now situation with the undead trying to claw their way in at all times.

The Rec: Seriously, how often do you find a character-driven novel set in a zombie apocalypse?

Some reviewers have taken issue with the inclusion of zombies, but I think they add to the story. From the ridiculously intense and chilling first chapter (when main character Sloane realizes that "oh my God those are zombies outside") through to the very end, it feels like a REAL zombie apocalypse. There's a legitimacy to how the characters stumble through survival in the beginning, and how the life-or-death situation doesn't magically make everyone the best possible version of themselves. In fact, it can bring out the worst.

THIS IS NOT A TEST centers on a period of limbo for these characters — they've survived the first few days of the zombies and have found a "safe" place in which to barricade themselves ... for the time being.

They begin processing the reality of the monsters outside, mourning the people they've lost, and figuring out what the heck to do next — all while dealing with the emotional baggage they've each brought to the situation.

Summers does an excellent job encapsulating this tension, but she never lets the zombies stray too far off the page. They're a constant threat, and they appear frequently enough that, despite all the internal drama, the horde is a very real, very hungry, and very vicious external danger.

The Caveat: If you want ZOMBIESZOMBIESZOMBIES, this is not the book for you.

You should read this because: THIS IS NOT A TEST is messy and engrossing. It's raw and ugly and painful, both in the literal and emotional sense. It's the ZOMBIE BREAKFAST CLUB, people!

Also, there's a sequel novella called (drum roll for awesome title) PLEASE REMAIN CALM, available now! Click here for our recommendation!

Read this book!
THIS IS NOT A TEST by Courtney Summers (St. Martin's Griffith, June 2012)

Recommendation by: Donna
Check out my original recommendation here: