Friday, September 28, 2012

Badass Books: This is Not a Test

This month I've been writing rewriting obsessing over my query for my recently finished WIP. During that process, I've been trying to find comp titles/authors for my book. I had a handful, but they all seem to be represented by my top agents. So I wanted to broaden the list in order to have several to choose from for each agent I query. This led me to Courtney Summers, which led me to This is Not a Test.

Summary (From Courtney Summers's website)

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, everyone’s motivations to survive begin to 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?

Why I read it: Other than falling into my quest for comp titles, I picked this book up because I remember a lot of people reading it earlier this year. They said was a zombie story but it wasn't a zombie story. They were right. I'm so glad I picked it up.

ZOMG Yes: This book ripped into me. It tore through to the deepest parts of my past. It forced me to look at myself, what I'd been through, my relationships, my choices. It cut me open and let all of the things I've had carefully packed away fall out and spill onto my feet. I read it Sunday, and I still haven't put myself back together.

Here's the thing. Sure, this is a zombie book. But like what other people said, it's so much more than a zombie book. It's a story about a teenage girl with a dark past who has to face her own demons, who has to face her own abandonment. It's a story about sisters and betrayal. It's a story about parents who fail at the core of what it means to be a parent. This story struck close to home for me.

Even if you don't have a sister or aren't still in counseling because of your childhood, this is a good book. Summers takes the very question of survival and turns it on its head. This is a zombie apocalypse. The goal is to survive. Not for Sloane. This is a zombie story unlike any I've read before. 

Spoiler: The story starts on the day Sloane plans to kill herself, the same day the zombies arrive. And for the rest of the book--almost until the very end--Sloane tries to find a way to end her own life. But once she has other people depending on her survival, she has to think of them, to find a way to kill herself without putting them in jeopardy. The emotional roller coaster this took me on as a reader was so worth it.

Meh: I'm really not sure there was anything about this book that would qualify as a meh. Some of the characters fit into your zombie apocalypse cookie cutter molds, but only at first glance. There were characters I didn't like--but I wasn't supposed to like them.

Overall, this book is glorious. You must read it. 


  1. Agree, agree, agree! (And if THIS IS NOT A TEST is a comp for your manuscript, I want to read it!)

    1. I'm head over heals for this book. In terms of voice and readers, I would say it probably is. :)

  2. Sounds great! Definitely adding it to my list.

  3. I've heard a lot of good things about this book, and zombies. Just zombies. That's all I'm really looking for :)

    Great review!

  4. Intriguing; glad to hear this is more than just a zombie book. I love it when a book can grab you like that and show you things you weren't expecting. That's powerful!