Friday, 5 July 2013

This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

tw: domestic abuse
tw: suicide

"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?"


This was such a brutal book! 
For those expecting mindless zombie carnage, look somewhere else - yes, there is some of it in the book, but that's not its main focus. Instead, This is Not a Test focuses on people. On who they are, on how they react, on what that tells us about them.
Our main character, Sloane, has lost the will to live. Is it the hopelessness of the Apocalypse, you ask? No, it's the hopelessness of being trapped with an abusive parent in a absolutely normal world. The hopelessness of being alone, since her sister and only friend, has left her alone with the abuser. So when the Apocalypse strikes, Sloane isn't particularly upset. It's merely a change of plans, she doesn't mean to hang around for long, this is just a another way to leave.
But Sloane finds herself trapped in her highschool with other survivors: her former classmates with whom she never really connected. 
This was masterfully written. When abuse is addressed in books you seldom witness the loneliness, the inability to form relationships other people take for granted, because your life is defined by the abuse. Courtney Summers did not shy away from that.
And while they all struggle to survive, and conflicts arise from living in such close quarters, Sloane sits quietly with her secret: she doesn't intend to survive.


With an unforgettable voice, the author tells us a story of monsters and of horror. But in it, not all monsters are zombies and the cruelest acts can come from the people that should keep us safe.

I woke up and the last piece of my heart disappeared.
I opened my eyes and I felt it go.

When the will to live disappears, what will make someone keep on living?
Isn't "live just for live" another act of mindless conduct? Like a zombie without rational thoughts?

This is a story about surviving nightmares in a nightmarish situation.
Sloane _the main character _ has reached the end of the road. Victim of parental abuse, she has no one to which ask for help. Her older sister has run away six months ago, leaving her to face her monster of a father alone.
And even if she did have someone to which ask for help, it would just be too late. She grew up in it. She'll never be, just like everybody else...

What i liked more about this story:
The author doesn't hold back. Finally there's a story that REALLY shows, what growing up in such a sick environment will do to someone.
Physical scars may fade, but not the emotional ones. Those are inked forever into the soul.

This is the book main point. Yes, it may take place in a horror scenario, but for me, that was the simple background in which the story takes places. The set in which all the characters will perform...

A book of compulsive reading. So heartbreaking, that i'm sure will remain with me for a long time now....

Even so, through all the despair and bleakness, maybe the ending can been seen as hopeful:
If, even dead people who were turned into zombies can long for life, maybe....just maybe there's still a chance for salvation.

I don’t know if I will keep it, but just in this moment, however brief, I feel closer to it than I ever have before …

Courtney Summers' official site

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