I received this book via Netgalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of this review.This is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp
Length: 292 pages
Reviewing eARC from Netgalley
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.
My Immediate Reaction to this Book:
AND I CAN’T STOP!!!!
This is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp is a beautifully written story about the events that occur during a school shooting in a small town. Told from the perspective of four students over 54 minutes, it is a heart-breaking, edge of your seat read that will leave you breathless and sobbing. Honestly, I know we are only four days into the new year, BUT I’m not sure anyone can top this book for me.
The writing is superb, bringing the characters and their reality to life. It was so hard for me to separate them from real life. I could easily see Sylv, Autumn, Claire, or Tomás at school somewhere living this story out. For those old enough to remember Columbine, reading this book was like watching that shooting unfold on the news. I’ll never forget the sense of dread I had as a 13 year-old watching that at home and now at 29 reading about one. Fair warning to those with triggers….do not read this book. It will haunt you!
I think what made this story so real was that with each chapter there were twitter feeds, news reports, and a blogger, talking about the shooting as it happened. Students in the auditorium tweeting to family, sending text messages, things that would happen in life today. Each chapter ended with these and it really drove the message home. One student’s tweets appeared over and over again, a student who played hooky that day and is trying to find his friends, survivor’s guilt kicking in, and his growing desperation as no one replies to him. This particular student wasn’t one of the four main characters and we never saw him in the actual story line but his part in the book is just as moving as the rest.
Sylv, Autumn, Claire, and Tomás…oh how my heart ached for these characters so inexplicably tied together through the shooter and each other. Sylv and Tomás are twins, Autumn is Sylv’s girlfriend and sister of the shooter, Claire is the ex-girlfriend of the shooter (promise these aren’t spoilers, it all comes to light within the first few pages of the book). I think my favorite characters are Tomás and Claire. He is the school prankster, always in trouble and when the shooting begins he’s breaking into the principal’s office. Claire is the middle child in a military family, a track star, and happens to be outside with her team when the shooting begins.
What made this story so poignant and unique was the author’s ability to give insight into the shooter, humanizing him, rationalizing his decisions without making excuses for him. The characters who knew him were just as shocked by his actions as everyone else. They were horrified and just as much victims as the rest of the student body. It was heart-breaking from start to finish. Overall I loved the book! I won’t pretend that it has a happy ending, but the characters in just under 300 pages over the span of 54 minutes grow so much. Too much really, they lose their innocence but gain camaraderie. If you enjoy realistic fiction, I highly suggest you grab a copy of This is Where It Ends. It is fantastic!