October 31, 2012

Latest Read: This Is Not A Test

Here are the basics ...
Book: This Is Not a Test
Author: Courtney Summers
Site: http://courtneysummers.ca/
Category: Young Adult

Summary:  It’s the end of the world. Six students have taken cover in Cortege High but the dead outside won’t stop pounding on the doors. One bite is all it takes to die and come back a zombie. To Sloane Price, that doesn’t sound so bad. Six months ago, her world collapsed and she's looking for a reason to give up. As Sloane waits for the barricades to fall, she’s forced to witness the apocalypse through the eyes of people who actually want to live.  (Adapted goodreads.com
My thoughts…
The good: For the longest time, I kept thinking of This Is Not A Test as the zombie book I needed to read.  Now that I've actually read it, I realize it's about so much more that.  Sure, zombies are in it but what really drives the plot are the characters.  How do they react to zombies taking over their town? Do they band together? Is it each person for his or herself? Are they willing to kill or risk their lives for one another? It's about survival and the difficult decisions they have to make in the face of danger.  It's easy to say what you think you'd do but sometimes you just never know until you're in the situation.  And I thought the author did an amazing job of capturing that.  Through her words, I could imagine and feel the desolation of the town and the intense struggle of these six teenagers to keep on living no matter what.

The book is told through Sloane's point-of-view and she was a difficult protagonist to connect with.  It's obvious early on that she's (not) coping with some sort of trauma she's experienced at home. She's kept everyone at arm's length her entire life and suddenly she's finds herself with five other people she went to school with, trying not to eaten by zombies. It's a lot to deal with.  And even though I could understand why she acted so cold and aloof, it was the moments when she'd unexpectedly say or do something to let people see her that I looked forward to. We learn about the other characters - Cary, Rhys, Trace, Grace and Harrison - through her interactions with them. There were characters that I just couldn't care for no matter how much I tried (ahem, Trace and Harrison) and others who I rooted for to do the right thing even when they sometimes frustrated me (Cary, Rhys and Grace).  I particularly liked Cary and Rhys.  I think because they both trusted Sloane and we got to see their characters develop a little more than the rest. But regardless of how I felt about them - they each played a significant role and the author really showed the different ways people deal with tragedy and survival.

(Some) reservations:  Because the book is so character-driven and Sloane tends to be cut off from everyone, we don't get to understand the other people as much. We just see whatever she sees. And as she got closer to other characters, then we got a chance to learn more about them. It made me wonder what was going on in their heads and what motivated them. It was kind of frustrating for me and I found myself wishing that the chapters alternated point-of-views instead.

Do I recommend?:  I do.  Don't let the whole zombie thing scare you off (there's no Walking Dead like gruesome-ness here, I swear!).  It was a good read and I'm glad I was finally able to cross this one off my list.  Although, I do recommend not reading it super late at night. I may have woken up in the middle of the night with zombies on my mind.

Happy reading!

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