Tuesday, February 7, 2012

This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

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?

If you don’t have this book in your list to read when it comes out, then I urge you to add it now. The writing is so fresh, yet wrought with so much meaning, that many times it had me rereading phrases in wonder at the beauty of the words. But the best thing about the book are the characters. Sloane, Cary, Grace, Trace, Rhys and even Harrison come into full, living color as the story progresses, each page giving us another clue to the way each of them thinks. Their interactions with one another are so real, so well written. It struck me how much they grab on to the reader so that we care deeply for all of them by the time the book ends.

Of course, Sloane, as the narrator, is the one we come to understand and love most of all. It is a wonder to watch as she transforms from a suicidal person, someone who inwardly smiles when there’s a chance she might die, to someone who fights, if not wholly, then enough, for her life.

This is a rare book. It is a prime example of what young adult books can be at their best. I highly. highly, recommend it.

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