Saturday, May 30, 2015

Book Review: This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

Book: This is Not a Test
Author: Courtney Summers
Published: 2012
Source: Local Library

Ever Sloane was abandoned by her older sister Lily, her only ally against their abusive father, she's been drifting through her days, trying to keep going. Now she's decided that she's done with drifting, done with hanging on, done with living. Of course, this would be the day that the zombie apocalypse starts.

Sloane ends up barricaded in her school with four other kids, all of them trying to survive and digest the horrors that brought them there. Every day that passes is another chance for Sloane to die. But for some reason, she keeps going, even while people die around her.

This book had a number of strikes against it for me to pick it up. Zombies? Sooooo depressing. Suicidal main character? Even more so. So why did I pick it up? Simple answer: Courtney Summers. I've loved her other books, which also had topics I usually wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole, and she didn't disappoint. This book is claustrophobic and dark and slow and horrific and I just didn't want to stop reading.

Somehow I still wanted to hang in there with Sloane, to find out whether she would eventually give in, but knowing she wouldn't. For a girl who professes to be suicidal, Sloane constantly chooses to live, to fight, to defend, and to survive.

The very end of the book has Sloan confronting a little-girl zombie and . . . well, it ends there. From another author, I'd go, "Ugh, sequel bait." But in this one, it works more as the revelation that Sloan has finally come to a place where she's willing to look her illness in the eye and keep fighting, with no easy promise as to who will come out the victor.

Friday, May 01, 2015

Reading Roundup: April 2015

By the Numbers
Teen: 7
Tween: 5
Children: 3

Review Copies: 6
Library: 7

Teen: Dead to Me by Mary McCoy
When the hospital calls, Alice is beyond astonished, because she hasn't seen or heard from her idolized sister Annie in four years. This was the very best kind of Hollywood noir mystery and I felt like I should be reading it with a cigarette and a bottle of scotch at my elbow.
Tween: P.S. Be Eleven / Gone Crazy in Alabama by Rita Williams-Garcia
Okay, these are two different books, but I have to count them together, if only because I picked up the second as soon as I was done with the first, just to spend more time with the Gauthier sisters as they learn more about themselves, their family, and their world.
Children: Knock Knock: My Dad's Dream for Me by Daniel Beaty
Sniffle. I teared up over this meditation on fathers and sons, and growing up without each other.

Because I Want To Awards
Eye-Opening: None of the Above by IW Gregorio
While it could veer into the clinical (every so often it sounded like a pamphlet on AIS, the biological trait that makes Kristin intersex), this was also notable for the way that friends and family reacted, and not always in the way that you'd think.
Fascinatingly Flawed: Lauren in Endangered by Lamar Giles
This one stayed on my TBR list because of the biracial main character, but I tore through it because of what was going on inside her. While Lauren thinks she's a Robin Hood, her actions were almost as reprehensible as those of her "secret admirer." Part of the fascination of this book was how she came to understand that.
How Did I Not Know This?: Candy Bomber by Michael O. Tunnell
First off, I didn't know anything about the Berlin Airlift, an audacious campaign to feed the people of West Berlin in the face of Russian blockades in 1948 and 1949. Second of all, I had no idea about the pilots who dropped candy and chocolate for the children of West Berlin. I loved this story, and even more so for being true.
Still Gathering My Thoughts: Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge
I just finished this last night and it's one of those that has to sit for awhile. Initial thoughts? Dark, sexy, tangled, and with some fascinating riffs on belief and religion.