Tuesday, 5 January 2016

This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp is a YA novel about a high school shooting. The whole book, except for a brief epilogue, takes place over the span of less than an hour. That should give you an idea of what sort of book this is.

10:00 a.m.
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.

10:02 a.m.
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 was exactly the kind of book I expected it to be. I was concerned I would be forced to read it in a single sitting, sacrificing sleep, but I managed to spread it out over two. (And only because I had to get up early, really.) The tension and horror of the situation is deftly maintained throughout the book.

There are four point of view characters in This Is Where It Ends, all students who were in different places when the shooting started and who have interesting back-stories that tie in with the events. There's the two girls — girlfriends — who are in the auditorium with most of the students and teachers, there's the track team who were exempt from assembly to train, and the two students who had been sent to the principal's office. Each point of view character has some sort of additional connection to the shooter, beyond just being schoolmates. There's the sister, the ex-girfriend, the nemesis, the (other sort of) victim. And they all have other people in the auditorium to fear for. As well as documenting the fifty-four minutes of the main story, we also have a sizeable amount of back-story delivered in flashbacks and memories to flesh-out the characters, making the reader care about them and fear for their lives.

Between chapters there were a few tweets and blog posts from people at and connected to the school, desperate to find out what's happening. Those were probably my least favourite element of the book. They added a small amount of extra sympathy for minor characters, but I didn't feel they brought that much to the story. I didn't hate them either, just meh.

Obviously, this book is a bit on the violent side. People die. People are injured. People watch other people get shot. If you don't want to read about gun violence, for whatever reason, then this probably isn't the book for you. If you are after a tense thriller then I highly recommend This Is Where It Ends.

4.5 / 5 stars

First published: January 2016, Sourcebooks
Series: No
Format read: eARC
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

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