There are some books that don't turn out the way you expect; they start off as one thing and end up being something totally different. This could be for better or for worse. Usually, it's for the worse; they leave you feeling cheated and disappointed. But on same rare occasions, the effect is opposite. You are so overwhelmed, you need a minute for everything to sink in, and when it does, you realise you are so utterly blown away that you don't really know what to think.This is Not a Test is definitely in the latter category.It starts off as a typical zombie book. One minute, things are like they are everyday, and the next minute, the dead come pounding on the door. This first chapter is so edgy and so well-done, I wouldn't have minded at all if it were a typical zombie book.But it's not.This is Not a Test is Sloane's story - a girl who's abused, abandoned, tired of going on, and just when she decides to give up on life, the world ends. And she survives.I'll be honest. I had my doubts about this when I started. Sloane has a lot of emotional baggage; she's broken and depressed - not my favorite kind of character. Besides, she's stuck with five other teenagers who have their own issues to deal with. Plus, there are zombies running amok on the streets. I feared that maybe, just maybe, Summers had bitten off more than she could chew.I realize now I underestimated Summers' genius. I don't know how she did it, but she made everything fit in. Perfectly. Not a line is out of place, no scene is unnecessary, no character is without a part to play, and no action is left unjustified.And I understood Sloane. Like, really understood her. She's tired with life, resentful of her sister, angry at her father...and I get it. Usually, writers always focus on the angst and the depression and don't adequately explore the reasons, but with Sloane, things made sense. I could see why the idea of giving up would be so tempting. If I were in her shoes, I'd probably take the easy way out too. Everything Sloane felt, I felt too, and so all her realizations hit me just as hard.Survival is more a question of being alive or dead, not good or bad. So there are no heroes in This is Not a Test. Each day that Sloane spends with her fellow survivors brings out something better and worse in them, and in her. I must mention Lily here, Sloane's sister. She's pretty much absent throughout the book and only turns up in Sloane's recollections but Summers does such a fantastic job at characterization, I felt like Lily was just as much a part of this story as Sloane; she was just as present.You know you've read something special when what you thought would be a zombie fear-fest ends up giving you chills that have nothing to do with zombies. You know you've read something special when what you thought would scare you, leaves you speechless and awed instead.This is Not a Test is special. There's no other way to put it.