You guys. I’ve been such a bad girl today. I sat down with my coffee this morning to read just ONE chapter of This Is Not A Test (because Courtney Summers is beyond awesome and she gave me an ARC and I shouldn’t be bragging about that, but I am totally bragging) and didn’t look up again until the lunch bus came to drop off the kindergartner next door, which is my hint that I should stop working and eat something.
Except today I wasn’t working. I was reading This Is Not A Test, and that book is SO totally a test. It’s a test of my willpower and dedication to my job, and so far, I am failing that test.
I’m almost finished with the book (the one I’m reading, NOT the one I’m writing), and the only phrase I can think of to accurately describe both the book and the viewpoint character (Sloane) is: beautiful disaster. Sloane and her story are the most achingly gorgeous catastrophes I’ve ever read.
And I don’t mean that either the book or the writing is disastrous, because they’re not. Like everything else Summers has written, This Is Not A Test is stunningly gritty and honest, and the writing (a sort of stream-of-consciousness narrative mix between exposition and naked thought, peppered with some of the most effortlessly realistic dialogue I’ve ever read) is so simple on the surface that it might be easy to overlook the depth. But you should not overlook the depth. You should dive into the depths and swim in them until you can’t hold your breath anymore, then float to the surface for air, so you can submerge yourself again.
Summers’s books so far (I’ve read and loved them all) have done a beautiful job of laying bare the characters’ private trauma, and This Is Not A Test is no exception. Which is where the part about Sloane being a beautiful disaster comes in. The difference in this book is that layered over Sloane’s personal trauma is the world’s large-scale trauma.
Sloane Price is a suicidal teen (there’s no emo drama–the girl has her reasons) who is trying to end her own life when civilization beats her to the punch.
Yes, it’s the end of the world. It’s the zombie apocalypse.
But don’t let those words chase you away from the book, because like all good monster stories (though I would argue that this is MUCH more than a monster story), this one is actually a story about humanity. Love, and loss, and desperation, and loyalty and how the things we are willing to do to survive (if we ARE to survive) can tear us apart and leave us wondering if we’ve really survived after all.
Anyway, that’s all I’m going to tell you for now. The book doesn’t come out until June 19th, but because I am SO in love with Summers’s writing style and so very jealous of the way she can make me fall in love with characters you’d normally hate in a book, along with next week’s normal giveaway, I’m going to give away a pre-order of This Is Not A Test (that part of the giveaway will have to be US/CA only, because of shipping restrictions–sorry!). So check back in on Monday for that.
And if you’re still not convinced that this is a book you should read, let me leave you with the following words: This book is The Breakfast Club meets Zombieland. Yet as much as I loved both of those movies, that comparison doesn’t seem to do the book justice, in hindsight. So, it’s what The Breakfast Club meets Zombieland would be if either of those had the ability to rip your heart out, squeeze out all the pain and loneliness, then put the ruined organ back into your chest and expect it to function again.
Oh, and the randomly drawn winner of this week’s giveaway is Tessa Knudsen. Tessa, please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your shipping information and the book you’d like from this list, and I’ll put your prize in the mail.