This Is Not a Test

Courtney Summers

St. Martin's Griffin



Trade Paperback

336 Pages


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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.


Praise for This Is Not a Test

"This Is Not a Test is both sexy and desolate, and it will blast a hole through your heart, yet somehow start to stitch it back together again"—Daisy Whitney, author of The Mockingbirds and The Rivals"Courtney Summers is a ferocious talent in YA fiction. This Is Not a Test brought me to tears, caused me to gasp in shock in public places, and almost put a stop to my heart . . . Summers' voice is raw with emotion, and utterly right for the impending zombie apocalypse."—Nova Ren Suma, author of Imaginary Girls

"[Courtney Summers] blends all the perfection and simplicity that defines her writing so well with this added paranormal element for a snappy, exciting story I just couldn't stop reading, and then I got to the very end and realized that it was about so much more than just making it out alive."—Julie Cross, author of Tempest

"Sixteen survivors become trapped inside their local high school when a deadly infection turns everyone in Cortege into flesh-eating zombies. One bite from an infected means a death sentence and resurrection to life as a monster. To Sloane Price, hiding out means no beatings from her father, but leaving the shelter of the school also means fulfilling her desire to give up on life since her sister's betrayal. Sloane contemplates how easy it would be to die until she realizes that she cannot let her actions jeopardize those who want to live. As emotions run high and the threat of detection seems inevitable, the survivors realize that their only hope of living means leaving their safe haven and venturing out into the ravaged city. What they find will make survival seem hopeless, as one by one the number of survivors dwindles. Summers's novel begins in a muddle of confusion. Several story lines crash together with a convoluted narrative of how the teens end up inside the school. Their original dash to safety is vague, while new obstacles sidelining the survivors are horrific. Characters do not evoke feelings from the reader until half-way through the book. Several plot developments stretch believability but may be overlooked by readers focused purely on the grisly deaths. The open-ended conclusion leaves the story open for a sequel, but will readers care? Those who love zombie stories will find much better fare in such books as Charlie Higson's The Enemy. This is an additional purchase for teens who love horror and zombies no matter the flaws."—Laura Panter, VOYA

"A girl wants to commit suicide, but she's caught in the zombie apocalypse with a group that's trying to survive in this intriguing psychological thriller. It takes some artistic guts to set a portrayal of a suicidal teenager amid attacking zombies, but Summers has a history of risky choices. Sloane was left trapped in her severely abusive home when her older sister, Lily, escaped. When the zombies attack, Sloane joins a group of her fellow students who take refuge in their high school, a building built almost like a prison. They barricade the doors and live off food from the cafeteria and water stored on the roof. Yet, although the zombie threat keeps tension high, Summers' focus remains on Sloane and the group of teens hiding in the school. The teen suffers from the betrayal she feels from Lily, while the others jockey for dominance and squabble over perceived ills done to them by others in the group. As events proceed, the teens make real decisions about life and death, while Sloane looks toward a possible reunion with Lily. Readers never learn why zombies attacked; they are kept in the moment by Sloane's first-person, present-tense account. The focus stays on the personalities and on Sloane's struggle with her emotions and her own decision to live or to die. Unusual and absorbing."—Kirkus

"It’s The Breakfast Club, George Romero style, as six teens who barely know or like each other seek refuge in their high school while the undead hordes lurk outside. This isn’t as much of a departure from Summers’s edgy contemporary novels like Fall for Anything and Some Girls Are as one might think—it’s as much a character study as it is a “zombie novel.” The end of the world unfolds through the eyes of high school junior Sloane Price, who has been contemplating suicide since her older sister ran away six months earlier, leaving Sloane with their physically abusive father. But these worries are pushed aside as Sloane tries to keep her fellow students alive. The fragile dynamic is disrupted by the arrival of another survivor, a teacher, and a news report about survivor camps. The interpersonal dynamics and growing tension take precedence over any explanations regarding the zombies—Summers is more interested in what it’s like to be a girl who doesn’t want to live, stuck in a world where death isn’t what it used to be."—Amy Tipton, Publishers Weekly

In the Press

THIS IS NOT A TEST by Courtney Summers | Kirkus Book Reviews
Read the Kirkus Review of THIS IS NOT A TEST . A girl wants to commit suicide, but she's caught in the zombie apocalypse with a group that's trying to survive in this intriguing psychological thriller.
Children's Review: This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers. St. Martin's Griffin, $9.99 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-0-312-65674-4
It's The Breakfast Club, George Romero style, as six teens who barely know or like each other seek refuge in their high school while the undead hordes lurk outside. This isn't as much of a departure f

Reviews from Goodreads



Read an Excerpt

“Get the door! Get the tables against the fucking door, Trace—move!”
In a perfect world, I’m spinning out. I’m seven days ago, sleeping myself into nothingness. Every breath in and out is shallower than the last until, eventually, I stop. In a perfect world, I’m over. I’m dead. But in this world, Lily took the pills with her and I’m still alive. I’m climbing onstage before Cary notices and gives me something to do even though I should be doing something. I should help. I should be helping because seconds
Read the full excerpt



  • This is Not A Test - Courtney Summers

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  • Courtney Summers

  • Courtney Summers is the author of young adult novels including Fall for Anything, Some Girls Are, and Cracked Up to Be. She lives and writes in Canada, where she divides her time between a piano, a camera, and a word-processing program when she’s not planning for the impending zombie apocalypse.
  • Courtney Summers Courtney Summers
    Courtney Summers