Published by Sourcebooks Fire on 1/5/16
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
My content rating: YA (Violence)
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.
This is Where It Ends is an intense reading experience. And, unfortunately, the situation portrayed in the book is all too real in today’s society. (I read an article on NBC News the other day that said there have been more mass shootings in the US than days this year – how scary is that?) The book looks at a school shooting from the perspective of four students who have a connection to the shooter in one way or another – two are trapped in the auditorium and the other two are on the outside, trying to help their friends. The book takes place over a mere 54 minutes, but these students’ lives are completely transformed in that hour.
I actually don’t want to say much about the specifics of what happened in the book or even about the characters because I think that it will be better if you learn about the circumstances and connections between the characters as you go, but I can give some general thoughts.
What I LOVED:
- The intensity. This is the type of book that you CAN’T PUT DOWN. For some reason, I decided to start reading this book at 10PM, just before I should have been trying to go to sleep (actually, this is a pretty normal occurrence for me, but still …). Well, at 1AM, I finally put the book down, exhausted but with my mind spinning. Several times between those two points, I had told myself that I needed to stop reading and go to sleep, but it just wasn’t happening. I had to finish it! The first half of the book was especially intense and had my heart and mind both racing!
- How could this happen? One question that was examined often throughout the book was “How could this happen?” Because the story is told from the perspective of four different people who know the shooter – some very well – these characters are all asking themselves this question. They’re all wondering if they should have known – or, worse, if they could have done something to stop it. The characters’ internal journeys are just as important (if not more so) than the actual events that are happening around them.
- Love and sacrifice. Throughout the harrowing event, the characters all gain a deeper understanding of where their loyalties lie and what is truly important in life. They learn to fight for love and for themselves – and for the people they care about. The message of love and loyalty shines throughout the book, even in horribly dark circumstances.
- Slight loss of momentum. While I loved the entire book, I did feel like the second half lost momentum a bit and the pacing wasn’t as sharp as in the first half. This was especially true for me in Claire’s scenes (but I actually never quite connected to Claire as well as I did the other narrators, so that could account for that).
- Unnecessary sacrifice? At one point a character in the book makes the ultimate sacrifice for another character. I obviously don’t want to go into any detail about how or why that happens, but I will say that something about the whole scene felt off to me. It almost felt like, at that point in the story, the sacrifice was unnecessary, and while I could understand the character’s motives for wanting to protect the other person, the timing seemed very odd to me and I wasn’t exactly sure how the character’s actions were actually helping anyone. Honestly, it almost felt to me like the author really wanted a character to sacrifice themselves in a grand way but couldn’t come up with a great scenario to make it happen. (Sidenote – as an editor, these things probably bug me a bit more than they do other people because I find myself thinking, “Oh, the author could have just made this smallest of tweaks and the sacrifice would have felt necessary – and therefore much more powerful.” And then I can’t stop thinking about that moment. It’s my editor brain talking – sorry, I can’t turn it off.)
This book takes a chilling look at the painful reality of mass shootings and how someone can be driven over the edge. It’s also a story of hope and love and sacrifice amidst pain. Pick this book up. I promise you will not soon forget it. I give This is Where It Ends 4/5 stars.
***Disclosure: I received this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
About the Author
Marieke Nijkamp was born and raised in the Netherlands. A lifelong student of stories, language, and ideas, she is more or less proficient in about a dozen languages and holds degrees in philosophy, history, and medieval studies. She is a storyteller, dreamer, globe-trotter, geek. Her debut young adult novel This Is Where It Ends, a contemporary story that follows four teens over the course of the fifty-four minutes of a school shooting, will be published by Sourcebooks Fire in January 2016.
Between now and the book’s on-sale date Sourcebooks Fire is giving away custom “TIME WAS OURS” lanyards, and the chance for one lucky person to win a Polaroid Digital Instant Print Camera!
There are two ways to enter the giveaway:
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2 – If you have not pre-ordered a copy of This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp, you may enter the giveaway by printing your name, mailing address, email address and the phrase “This Is Where It Ends” on a standard-size postcard and send to: Publicity, c/o Sourcebooks, Inc., 1935 Brookdale Rd., #139, Naperville, IL 60563.
Books of Wonder (any copies ordered here will be signed by Marieke!)