CM . . .
. Volume XXI Number 41. . . .June 26, 2015
This Is Not a Test.
New York, NY: St. Martin’s Griffin (Distributed in Canada by Raincoast Books), 2012.
326 pp., trade pbk. & e-book, $10.99 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-0-312-65674-4 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-250-01181-7 (e-book).
Grades 9-12 / Grades 14-17.
Review by Laura Dunford.
“So, what do you think?” Rhys asks.
“What do I think about what?”
I don’t tell him there isn’t one as far as I’m concerned. As soon as we leave here, I separated from them. Maybe I’ll even do something sacrificial so they have time to get away and then I can die a hero or whatever but I’ve realized something since I got here. I cared too much about how I was going to go before – Lily’s pills, the ones I couldn’t find – when it really doesn’t matter how I go, just that I do.
“I mean,” he continues. “I don’t know. You barely talk.”
“Maybe I’ve got nothing to say.”
“Not with those eyes.”
The way he looks at me right now – I don’t think he means it like a come-on or anything. His gaze is intent, searching my face so obviously, it makes me uncomfortable.
“I don’t know what you mean.”
“Everyone else here is riding extremes. You’re distant but you always look like you’re thinking. You keep wandering off alone, which is actually kind of stupid…so I just wanted to know what’s going on.”
He hesitates. “Where’s your family, Sloane?”
“Dead like yours?”
This is Not a Test takes place primarily in a high school where a small group of students have barricaded the doors against the zombies who used to be their neighbours, teachers, families, and friends. Surrounded and trapped inside by hoards of the undead, the teens have to find a whole new way to survive high school.
I DEVOURED This is Not a Test. This is a novel for anyone of any age who is a fan of The Walking Dead or dark fiction in general. Summers manages to downplay the supernatural elements of her story (while still using them to scare you half to death!) in order to use the zombie apocalypse as a very fitting context for a condensed coming-of-age narrative. In a short amount of time, the teens in this small group experience everything from losing their parents, to witnessing and/or participating in murder, to their first sexual encounter. Sloane Price is a unique protagonist as she was preparing to kill herself when the apocalypse began and continues to plot her own death throughout the novel.
While This is Not a Test contains some controversial content, it would be a fantastic book for anyone interested in teaching or sparking a discussion about ethics. The events and obstacles faced by the teens in Summers’ book refuse to offer them survival with clean consciences.
Laura Dunford is a graduate of the Master of Arts in Children’s Literature program at the University of British Columbia.
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