This Is Not A Test is a pretty good addition to the canon. It follows six students in the days after a zombie plague has broken out. They’ve found a safe place - their old high school - to barricade themselves into. They’ve got water and food and now they’re just waiting. For rescue? For the undead to finally break in and slaughter them all? Only time will tell.
I really enjoyed This Is Not A Test. While it’s obviously a zombie apocalypse book, it looks more at the six characters and how they deal psychologically with the threat outside and their plans for the future rather than being an action-filled road trip to the secret government base or whatever (there’s always a road trip in zombie apocalypse novels. Why? Surely it would be the worst possible time to go trekking across country).
So the six teens are stuck in their old high school, waiting for whatever’s going to happen to just happen already. They start to go a bit stir-crazy and snipey with each other. Poor decisions are made - obviously, because it wouldn’t be fun unless someone was making the obvious wrong choice in a situation - but these tended to add to the tension rather than just irritate me.
This Is Not A Test is a character-driven rather than plot-driven book, which is unusual in this sub-genre. We see a lot about the main character, Sloane’s desperately unhappy home life before the plague broke out, and also the interactions and relationships between the six characters.
One interesting thing I noticed, was that it basically reads like The Breakfast Club meets The Walking Dead. Seriously. You’ve got The Athlete, The Brain, The Basket Case, The Princess and The Criminal. In case you were wondering, Sloane is Ally Sheedy’s character! The sixth This Is Not A Test cast member, Rhys, is The Swoony One (a role not originally filled in The Breakfast Club) and I think he was inserted to provide the love interest. And that’s fine - he does the job well.
I wonder if the author realised she was writing The Undead Breakfast Club? She probably did. Or maybe she’s just watched too many John Hughes movies.
The ending to the book was a definite ending, although it did feel a little bit rushed and slightly deus-ex-machina-ey, but I’d still recommend it as it’s a lot more thoughtful than the usual zombie stuff out there.