Jennifer Pickrell

YA Writer

YA Book Club – This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

14 Comments

Description from Goodreads:

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?

My thoughts:

This has been called a zombie book, but I think it’s more of a survival story or a psychological study.  Six people trapped in one place and there was no clear cut good or bad.  There was no, “Oh, well, Harrison should live because he’s the youngest” or “Grace is so nice, I hope she makes it!”  These people were all flawed and real.  Courtney Summers is great at creating characters like this – ones you sympathize with one moment and then dislike the next.

This is one of those books that makes you question your own hypothetical responses – would you have Sloane’s passive-aggressive attitude, would you try to keep some semblance of normal like Trace and his morning runs, or would you cry constantly like Harrison?  Interestingly enough, the person I understood the most was Cary, so I’m not sure what that says about me.  And I didn’t really care for Grace because, she, like Sloane, was also a bit too pass-agg for my taste.  Rhys didn’t make a huge impression on me, either, but I didn’t dislike him.

This book made me hold my breath and gave me a few shivers when I read it before bed.  It was that fear of the unknown, that life could suddenly shift and we’d be facing the end.  I love these types of unsettling books.

Small note if you haven’t read it yet: I stumbled at the very beginning (before Part 1) because I had no idea what was going on with Lily.  Once everything started happening, it made a lot more sense, but be warned that the first few pages might be confusing.

If you have read it, what were your thoughts?  And if you’re not part of the YA Book Club yet, come join us!

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Author: Jennifer Pickrell

I write YA contemporary filled w/ romance, angst & family drama. Currently in the query trenches. My faves include: cats, snacks & green tea.

14 thoughts on “YA Book Club – This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

  1. For whatever reason, I related to Cary the most too. I probably wouldn’t have Cary’s level of control during a zombiepocalypse, but he made difficult decisions and I felt like his sense of morality was exactly as flawed as mine, haha…

  2. “These people were all flawed and real. Courtney Summers is great at creating characters like this – ones you sympathize with one moment and then dislike the next.” YES! I think this every time I read one of her novels… Her writing is a study in layered, complex characters.

    Loved this book! 🙂

  3. “This is one of those books that makes you question your own hypothetical responses” –> I am really impressed by the way Courtney Summers manages this..By creating flawed characters that you have the feeling you could meet anywhere, she succeeds in pulling the reader right in the scene (or the gym) with them! This book was great!

  4. Sounds like an interesting genre-bender.

  5. I totally agree – this wasn’t really a zombie book so to speak, but more a book on survival. Not to mention one I think was completely realistic on what could actually happen, how different people would react, and ultimately, if people would chose to live or die.
    And I don’t think you could finish it and not wonder, what would you have done yourself if placed in the same scenario?
    Great review, Jennifer!

  6. I’m glad to hear that it’s more than a zombie book. I haven’t read Summers yet. I have one or two of her books on my Kindle, but I haven’t read them yet. I’d also like to read this one.

  7. There was no, “Oh, well, Harrison should live because he’s the youngest” or “Grace is so nice, I hope she makes it!”

    ^ I really liked that aspect of it. And the whole Cary and Harrison thing, which I won’t go into because it’d be a spoiler, but that was so real. It does make you think. I found Cary’s response to be so human, from his thoughts about Harrison to the very end. He was definitely one of my favorite characters.

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