Series: This is not a test

BOOK REVIEW: Please Remain Calm (This is Not a Test #2) by Courtney Summers

BOOK REVIEW: Please Remain Calm (This is Not a Test #2) by Courtney SummersPlease Remain Calm (This is Not a Test #2)
by Courtney Summers
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

In this gripping sequel to THIS IS NOT A TEST, Rhys and Sloane are headed for a safe haven when they get separated along the way. Rhys is determined to reunite with Sloane until he discovers people who might need him more--people who offer him the closest he'll get to everything he's lost, if they can just hold on long enough.

Rhys thinks he has what it takes to survive and find the girl he lost, but in a world overrun by the dead, there are no guarantees and the next leg of his journey will test him in unimaginable ways ...

There’s not much to say that hasn’t already been said in my review for This is Not a Test. But I do think there were some small differences that clearly showed a distinction between the two, so it deserves it’s own review. For instance, if you thought the first book was heartbreaking, you’re in for a whole new world of hurt. And if you thought you saw quite a few zombies before?? Think again.
People aren’t supposed to be able to fathom eternity. It’s an amount of time beyond all human comprehension. But ever since everything ended, I think I’m getting closer to understanding it. These little tastes of it in the way hell stretches around us, making pain endless and moments like this one rare and fleeting.
Making moments like this one everything.

This novella takes place right where we left off in book one. Rhys and Sloane are traveling to the ‘safe house’ because they can’t stay in the school forever….but by leaving the safety of the school, they are putting themselves in grave danger, because each city they come across is even more infested than the last.

“I have to piss,” I mutter.
It takes her a minute and for that minute, my face burns and it all seems too goddamn stupid to be embarrassed about, but it’s what I’m not saying that’s making it uncomfortable. I have to go to the bathroom and I don’t want to die and then come back with my dick out, so…

It’s no secret I was obsessed with Rhys in the last book, so I was ecstatic to see that this novella was in Rhys’s POV. I don’t normally love when authors make the second, or even the third, books in the male POV after being in the heroine’s head because I feel there is always a disconnect and a lack of characterization because the author can’t quite seem to capture both the male and female truthfully anymore. I think it’s because they are trying so hard to give us ladies an insight into the male’s head we so love and adore, but more often than not, they fail. So, I was very excited to see that, in true Courtney Summers fashion, she didn’t let this happen. Her writing was exactly the same and fifty times scarier.

This book, just as I said a second ago, was 50 times freakier to me than TINAT. Don’t think for a second the first wasn’t scary, but being out amid the zombies causes a whole new kind of panic attack moments that I couldn’t help but to lose my breath over time and again. It was very raw and heartbreaking, causing me to cry more than once-and this novella was, like, only 100 pages. I was shocked. But it’s truly not all that surprising, if you think about it-Courtney Summers has a way of getting under your skin and bringing out your worst and deepest fears and making them reality. So, naturally, when she does the thing that no one thinks she could possibly do to us…she does it. That’s my only warning to you. Don’t for a second think this novella, or world, is fluffy because Rhys and Sloane are into each other. It’s not.

Times like these, you go so far out of your way to assure yourself you’re not alone. You memorize the person you’re with: the way they breathe, the way they move, the warmth of their body. All these things, you reach for every second of the day and when they’re gone, you don’t even have to open your eyes to know it.

So, I can’t believe this is as long as it is, but I think I got my point across without being excessive. This novella is wonderful and essential to this series. So, if you have an hour, give this one a try. You’ll most likely really enjoy it if you loved the first.

***********************************************************

AGH SO GOOD AND SO HORRIBLE !!!!! Rhys you are so loyal, ugh ❤️

Review to come :))))

BOOK REVIEW: This is Not a Test (This is Not a Test #1) by Courtney Summers

BOOK REVIEW: This is Not a Test (This is Not a Test #1) by Courtney SummersThis is Not a Test (This is Not a Test #1)
by Courtney Summers
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

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?

I am so sad.
I am so sad it makes me heavier than the sum of my parts. I shift, restless, but it doesn’t help. It’s like-time. All this time in here is on me, has its hooks in me. Maybe if I sleep more, I’ll wake up and I’ll feel different, but I can’t. The storm is really happening now and it makes the room feel emptier. Makes me feel emptier.

Okay, okay so…..I had some SERIOUS doubts on this one. Not because I don’t trust my wonderful Alien friend (Anna), and not because I don’t love dystopian anymore. No, I had doubts because I haven’t read a dystopian in what feels like forever-hell, I can’t even name the last one I read because I don’t remember. This is my favorite genre and I haven’t read one in what feels like an eternity. But facts are facts: Excellent dystopians are rare. There is only so much disappointment a person can take, and when you continually see fail after fail, you begin to hold out for that one special book that will make you fall head over heels in love with the genre that stole your heart before. This is that book. This is the book that had me reading at every opportunity, even at the expense of not eating. This is the book that felt so real, so dark, that it touched me on a visceral level. No fluff. No excuses. No one safe. That…is the definition of an excellent dystopian.

My body wants to stop.
Thud. I end up on my knees. I’m dripping with sweat and my stomach is churning and the sound I heard was not the sound of myself falling and landing but-thud.
I turn my head to the exit.
Thud.

I fear I won’t be able to say enough to express how wonderful and refreshing this story was. And I never would have guessed, either. Zombies? Pass. But a story that instills the fear of them watching you, waiting for you, wanting to eat you…without actually seeing them every five pages? Mother, may I? For real. This was everything I didn’t hope for and more. That’s right-I had ZERO expectations going in and figured this one wouldn’t be for me. After all, I’m just so damn picky about my favorite genres. When that first thud. Thud. THUD. happened I about lost my shit-they were practically tearing down the doors…but we didn’t have to see them. Their shelter was surrounded, but we didn’t see the grotesque assholes in the windows or clawing all over our not-so-perfect cast of characters. No….Summers just placed a pin in that fear. She made you fear the moment that one would get in. She made you ponder if that school was closed up tight enough. She placed a little nugget of doubt about the morality of the main characters. After all, a scorned human being is more dangerous than any loaded gun, right?

The world breaks into a million pieces and comes back together just as quickly but it comes back together wrong. The picture is wrong. Upside down, awful.

And this leads me to our deplorable cast of survivors characters. What do you get when you are stuck in an abandoned school with a brother and sister who are devastated by a tragic turn of events, the person they blame, a boy who cries about anything and would switch loyalties in a minute, a girl who’s circumstances have pushed her to feel as if she doesn’t want to fight anymore, and a boy who’s….well….ummm perfect?! Okay, the last one is a lie but I LOVED him. So, what do you get? A huge MESS is what you get. Bare trust, pencil thin alliances, explosive fights, and a whole lot of hormones.

I pull at a strand of my hair. I want to rip it out. I want to climb onto the roof and throw myself off it. I want to bash my head against the mirror until it breaks.

Sloane was our main character. She lived alone with her father after her sister abandoned left, and he has became even more abusive than before-and it was all centered on her. When her sister left her, she lost the will to live, the need to fight, the gumption to go on. But after the zombie virus begins, she stumbles across ‘friends’ from school who grab her and bring her with them in their mad dash to survive. This went against all her plans to just lay down and let the zombies have her. This went against her suicide plan. This went against everything she had planned….and so did he.

I turn my face away from him. He’s right. Who cares. Maybe I’m infected. I try to listen to what’s happening inside me. If there’s any part of me that’s dying and becoming more rotten but more purposeful than what I am now.

Aghhhhh Rhys! I LOVE YOU! And, ya know, there wasn’t anything particularly special about him. He’s just an average boy who gets as scared as anyone else. But there are these moments where he shows immense protectiveness for Sloane. These shining moments where he singles her out and takes care of her more than others. These beautiful, wonderful, amazing moments where he begs her to just live…and stay with him.

We’ll make movies about it, hundreds of movies, and in every one of them, we’ll be the heroes and the love interests and best friends and winners and we’ll watch these movies until we are so far removed from our own history, we’ll forget how it really felt to be here.

Now, I am TOTALLY going to step on Anna’s toes and steal some of her words-because she said it best. I think the reason I loved this book so much was because of the characters. They were all so real. Their reactions, their emotions, their ANGER. It resonated deep within me and I felt their turmoil deep inside. I’d blame. I’d shout. I’d cry a ton. I’m a Grade A wuss! They were mean, sometimes cruel, and they forgave no one. This…this is the reality of the nasty world we live in. People won’t forgive just because you’re sorry. Sorry doesn’t fucking cut it when lives are at stake. And the truth of the matter is, their reactions were candid. No faking, lots of un-truths, and quite a few betrayals. The sad thing about me? I kind of loved the one who might or might not have cost some lives. Sue me.

He tries again. “If you’re staying, I want you to stay with me.” I want so badly to ask him why, why he thinks he needs me, but he continues. “If you’re not staying…if you’re going to go through with it, wait until we’re out of your way. I couldn’t stand to see it.”
“Okay,” I say.
“I really hope I don’t see it, Sloane,” he says softly. “I really hope you wake up.”
He hesitates and then he brings his hand to the crook of my elbow. He presses his lips against the side of my mouth and my heart recoils because for all its gentleness, it hurts.

Okay so I’ll wrap this up, because guess what?? I’m leaving because it’s snowing like crazy!! I could say a million more things, but I think the truth is in the words-the writing speaks for itself. It’s raw. It’s gritty. Not everyone makes it. And it’s a harsh, cruel reality. I wish I could go on and on and on and on….but there is only so much I can say before I start to give things away. If you aren’t sure about dystopians, if you don’t like zombies but are willing to give them another shot, if you’re on the fence at all, about anything to do with this story, read it. It’s amazing. And I am so damn glad I decided to read it. That just goes to show that there is still a chance to make these novels amazing. They can still be harsh and have a little romance and still be amazingly blunt and well-written. I cannot wait to read the novella….I hope it is equally amazing as this book, but if it’s only a fraction as good, I’ll still die happy.

BOOK REVIEW: This is Not a Test (This is Not a Test #1) by Courtney Summers

BOOK REVIEW: This is Not a Test (This is Not a Test #1) by Courtney SummersThis is not a test (This is not a test #1)
by Courtney Summers
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

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 is not a book about zombies, this is a book with zombies.

And I’m so okay with that. I mean, to be frank, I’m not into zombies. Like, at all. Usually, they never manage to :
a) Scare me
b) Interest me

That’s just gross to me. Therefore I end bored more often than not, except if I take it as a parody, changing myself into this annoying buddy who can’t help but laugh at awkward moments. If it wasn’t for all the reviews I read which pointed that it wasn’t really a zombie horror book, I’d probably never have given it a chance. That’s why I’m pointing it too : If you’re expecting a classic horror story, you’ll be disappointed.

This is not a book where the zombies scare you, this is a book where the characters make you think.

Now, you know I’m a huge fan girl when it comes to Marchetta, especially because I can’t help but fall in love with every single character she brings to life. In this book, Courtney Summers manages to create flawed characters I adore. Though it was anything but self-evident at first, because I have a thing : I don’t usually love depressive characters. Yeah, you got it, the key word here is usually. Indeed Sloane is all kind of depressing – she actually wants to die – and yet she managed to move me like crazy. How did she do this? How? I’m not sure I can’t even explain.

“We’ll become reanimated corpses navigating a sorry imitation of our glory days and this is why I don’t understand the point in going on, why it’s so wrong to give up. There’s nothing left.”

There’s something so desperate in her way to handle all the crazy stuff that happens constantly and yet she’s never ever whining. Not a single time – I often found myself in awe of her perseverance, as I think there’s some braveness to show such motivation, even if it’s to die at some point. Did I find it stupid? Of course I did. I have a thing against suicide, I can’t deny it, that’s totally personal and I can’t help it – it often obscures my judgment about characters like her, because not only suicide makes me sad, but it piss me off. But Sloane won me. Completely. I took her with all her flaws and wanted just one thing : to read about her.

➸ Look, I’m not saying she’s going to die. In fact, I’m not saying anything – she’s a believable character you know, so she can evolve. Or not. Yep, I’m totally a tease.

This is not a book about battles, this is a book about survival and all we’re ready to do to survive.

because…

This is not a book filled with teenage angst, this is a book about the inherent injustice of life.

What do you think you’d be willing to do to survive? As I already said in my review of The Ask and the Answer, the only honest answer I can give you is I don’t know. Sure, I could convince myself that I wouldn’t be selfish and would always do the right thing but we have to know what this right thing is to begin with. Is it saving your parents? Saving your love? Saving yourself? Saving the human race? Tell me when you find your answer because I’m not sure I’ll succeed in.

“It was so easy,” he said. “Just physically … doing that. When it was over, I thought … people … we aren’t made of anything. That’s how easy it was.”

Each character has his choices to make, and what can I say? That’s real, that’s painful, that made me feel : I can’t not love it.

This is not a book you’ll spend days to read, this is a book you’re going to eat in one sitting.

Surely you know the feeling : you’re reading a book, sure that you’ve reached 50%, and you’re stunned to realize that in fact you’re at, like, 15%. This book brings the exact opposite of that feeling. Although the writing can appear pretty confusing in the beginning, I was hooked from page one and this feeling never ended until the end. Indeed Courtney Summers’s writing contains particularities that I never fail to love when I’m lucky to find it : short and sharp sentences, well-done repetitions – her style completely serves the plot as it helps grandly to express the growing tension the characters feel.

This is not a review, this is … well, if this is not a review, I have no idea what the fuck it is.

PS : I thought I wasn’t scared and in the end, it seems that the sensation of being threatened grew on me without realizing it. Yes, I totally freaked out when I got out to let my dog pee. Poor me.

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