Pub. Date: 19th June 2012 (US) 9th July 2012 (UK)
Publisher: St Martin’s Griffin
Readership: Young adult
Genres: Science fiction, post-apocalyptic
In young adult zombie books, the reader is usually worried about what the crazy, rogue, virus-infected zombies are going to do to the teenagers. In This Is Not a Test, I was more worried about what the teenagers were going to do to each other.
“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.”
This Is Not a Test is not your ordinary zombie book. It’s written more like a contemporary novel that happens to be set during a zombie apocalypse. It mainly focuses on the inner turmoil of Sloane Price, a young girl mourning her sister’s abandonment and unknown whereabouts, and pondering the tough relationship she has with her father. It gets to the point where Sloane is wishing for the barricades keeping the zombies out of the school to fall down. But it’s not just about Sloane. She’s confined in the school with five other students who are doing everything they can to keep the zombies out; they want to live.
“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.”
This second part of the synopsis also held my attention. It was refreshing to find a novel that explores how relationships between people can change when it’s a matter of survival. It’s an extreme situation and not everyone will band together to fight a single cause. There’s tension, blame, guilt, and indifference. Each character in This Is Not a Test is complicated and suffering inside. I would have probably liked a bit more zombie-action and hints as to how the rest of the world were faring, but it’s simply not that sort of book. Instead, we find ourselves in the troubled mind of Sloan Prince, watching attentively as the equilibrium between her fellow students starts to topple, combined with the unexpected addition of another person – is it enough to tip one character over the edge?
This is Not a Test is probably unlike anything you’ve ever read. It’s apocalyptic but focusing more on individual characters rather than the world outside. It’s a mix of Dark Inside and Ashfall, but less survival story and more a guide on How to Trust Your Friends During a Zombie Apocalypse.
This book was obtained as an eGalley from St Martin’s Griffin.