Speculating on SpecFic

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This Is Not a Test

This is Not a Test - Courtney Summers A thoughtful and wonderfully realised book, This is Not a Test isn't actually about the zombie apocalypse in the traditional sense of zombie books. In fact, there are few glimpses of the zombies until Sloane ventures outside, and even then the encounter is confused and adrenaline fuelled - the zombies are largely an unseen presence throughout the novel. Which makes this book perfect for those readers don't really want read gory details about zombies, how they feed and how they die.Sloane wakes up on what she plans as her last day on Earth to find that her plans have been ruined by the emergence of zombies. A lifetime of brutal beatings by her father and her sister's escape from the home has sapped Sloane of her will to live. So when the zombies come, she thinks that she can take advantage of it and find another way to end her life. But fate has other plans for her, and seven days later, she's holed up at school with five other teenaged survivors. It's intriguing to read from the point of view of someone who really doesn't want to be a survivor, she has a unique way to look at everything that happens. It's heart breaking but also so realistic that it gave me chills.The relationships between the teenagers locked inside the school, who previously only had cursory relationships with one another, are raw and unflinchingly realistic, and while I loved it, it also made me fairly uncomfortable. I think it's great that Summers doesn't hold her characters up to some kind of unrealistic ideals, so they bitch and lie and betray one another in the manner of teenagers. I am used to characters who are a little more morally grounded, so I found it intriguing but unsettling. I understood the propensity of the twins, Trace and Grace, to blame Cary for the death of their parents, and I was worried about then and for Cary as well, but I found myself thinking that they are really just wasting energy hating one another when they should be trying to work together. Similarly, I found Trace's attack on Sloane to be ridiculous, and I can't really wrap my head around the extreme grief he must have been feeling. All the emotions, actions and reactions in this book are amazing, riveting.When this is over, society will need entertainment to get past it. We'll make movies about it, hundreds of movies, and in every one of them, we'll be the heroes and the love interests and best friends and winners and we'll watch these movies until we are so far removed from our own history, we'll forget how it really felt to be here.The brilliant thing about the book is that it isn't all action - there's a lot of sleeping, walking, sitting around. Conversations are stilted, and more often than not it's just Trace and Cary yelling at one another because there's nothing else to do. I think the worst thing happens a few weeks in: the survivors start feeling safe. Day after day of monotony leads to Trace stopping running every day for fitness, no one checks the entry points into the building any more, and it's the most dangerous (but also natural) thing to occur because they aren't equipped for a zombie attack anymore. It's still a fast paced, exciting book, but it honestly examines what survival is like.This is Not a Test is a great book that I thoroughly enjoyed, and I hope to read more of Courtney Summer's works in the future. I think it will be enjoyed by those who love character driven plots (rather than action driven) and also recommend it to those who enjoy fiction featuring zombies, with a twist.