What’s it all about?:
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.
What did I think?:
I was lucky enough to read a copy of this outstanding debut novel by Marieke Nijkamp prior to publication date as part of the UK Yearbook Tour and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys gritty fiction that packs an emotional punch. As mentioned in the synopsis, this story covers a terrifying fifty-four minutes just before a teenager armed with a gun enters a packed auditorium, right through to the dramatic and nail-biting finale. The author chooses to present the reader with a number of different characters which I have to admit took me a while to get my head around at the beginning i.e. who was related to who, what their back story was etc but by the time the action really starts to kick off I was comfortable with each individual perspective.
One of the many things I loved about this book was the diversity of the characters. We have kids in heterosexual and homosexual relationships, those that are black and white, those of different religions and those that are disabled. Such a wide variety of individuals that all have their own dreams and aspirations and are all fundamentally flawed yet in a “normal” way made my spirits soar, and as a champion of We Need Diverse Books, Marieke has presented us with a perfect mis-match of people that just works. We get perspectives from all areas associated with the shooting, from the characters actually inside the danger area to those on the outside but I soon discovered that I couldn’t think of the latter as the lucky ones as they were going through their own internal trauma, having loved ones on the inside and not knowing whether they were alive or dead. I can’t even begin to imagine what that may feel like.
I think that with a topic such as a school shooting, this was always going to be a controversial book for some people but I have to applaud Marieke for having the bravery to tackle this sensitive subject. Not everyone is going to like it and as a result, there are going to be some negative reviews. Some reviewers have taken issue with the mechanical and cold nature of the killer and in particular, his reasons for wanting to gun down his fellow students/teachers. I do agree that his reasoning is a bit shaky but seriously, is there ever going to be a good reason or explanation for wanting to do this kind of thing? On occasion things can be just black or white and I believe its quite common that perps of this nature feel misunderstood, overlooked, pushed aside – need I go on?
Personally, I found this to be a dynamic and frightening look at a subject that is sadly, too often seen in the news and on our television screens. The author uses a multitude of perspectives, flashbacks and even tweets to tell a horrifying story that is packed full of action and emotion, which left me mentally exhausted as I pondered the dark side of human nature. If you’re of an open mind, prepare to be taken on a roller-coaster ride that has the power to horrify you whilst making you appreciate the people you love in your life and maybe hold them a bit closer as a result.
This Is Where It Ends was published on 5th January 2016 by Sourcebooks Fire and is available from all good book retailers now!
Would I recommend it?:
But of course!
Star rating (out of 5):