this is where it ends
author : marieke nijkamp
pages : [hardcover] 292
favorite character : autumn
The principal of Opportunity, Alabama’s high school finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve.
The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.
The auditorium doors won’t open.
Someone starts shooting.
Told over the span of 54 harrowing minutes from four different perspectives, terror reigns as one student’s calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.
I was excited to be approved to read through this book on Netgalley because I think that with the amount of violence and gun usage in the country today, particularly circulating around school shootings, these are the kinds of books that we unfortunately need to talk about. Why these things happen, how they can be prevented–and, if there was no indication that such a thing was going to happen, then emphasizing that no one is to blame except for the shooter. Even though This is Where it Ends is utterly captivating and has great characters, I think that it fell a little short of the mark.
The book features several perspectives and the characters are often in the same area so it’s interesting to get the same scene from a few different perspectives. All of the main characters know each other, through family or other relationships. One is the sister of the shooter. All of them have their different lives and their goals for the future–I guess that they’re emphasized so that the readers feel even more attached and don’t want any of these characters to be harmed because they have so much more that they want to do with their lives. And although the book feels very dramatic, at times it feels very . . . unreal.
For instance, something terrible happens (as, obviously, people are unfortunately being injured and killed during the shooting) and the character who is supposed to be so deeply affected shows us . . nothing. We’re seeing things through their POV and I didn’t see much of a difference to how they reacted to things, before that news, compared to afterward. I would have been a mess; inconsolable. It definitely drew me out of the story. There were other parts where characters either risked their lives or sacrificed themselves and I couldn’t fully understand their motivations. I get that standing up to someone like this shooter is an incredibly brave and powerful act, but I feel like it only escalated the problem most of the time and these people might have survived, otherwise. But I suppose, just like in a real situation like this one, you can never really know what would have happened if things hadn’t come around this way.
The writing wasn’t terrible, over ten some of the characters oddly falling flat at random moments. It’s simplistic, but I think that’s meant to keep us from getting distracted from the drama of the plot. And there’s a lot of it–except for Clarie’s chapters. She was outside of the school when the shooting started and she does get an interesting POV of what the police are doing out there but oftentimes I was anxious to get through her portions because I wanted to see what was happening inside of the school, where people were still in danger.
One last thing that took this book down a notch for me was the ending. It was a little too much, after all of the devastation that followed this single hour of the school shooting. I wanted to know what was going to happen to the characters who survived, how they were going to live their lives and if their futures were ruined by this incident. The book ends up resolving none of that.
Although I definitely liked the concept of this book and think that it might start some great conversations, it wasn’t a favorite of mine. It’s a very quick read and you’ll find yourself flying through it because you just have to know what is going to happen next. But, at the end, you’ll be left unsatisfied.