Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Review: This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
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.
10:03
The auditorium doors won't open.
10:05
Someone starts shooting.
This explosive, emotional, page-turning debut about a high school held hostage is told from the perspective of four teens—each with their own reason to fear the boy with the gun.
Marieke Nijkamp is a storyteller, dreamer, globe-trotter, geek. She holds degrees in philosophy, history, and medieval studies, and is an executive member of We Need Diverse Books, the founder of DiversifYA, and a founding contributor to YA Misfits. She lives in the Netherlands. Visit her at mariekenijkamp.com.

MY TAKE:
This is a tricky subject to write about so I was curious to see how it would be presented.

In This is Where it Ends, four characters narrate, as it happens, the events of a mass shooting at Opportunity High School. Each of them have ties to the shooter, and they all wonder if they had spoken up or done things differently, could they have stopped him in time?

The use of multiple narrators doesn't always work, but here it does because it shows you different perspectives. Two of them have positive memories of the shooter and can't believe he'd do something like this. The other two have negative memories of him, and as such, already dislike him.

Tyler's idea of trapping people in the auditorium and the way he chooses who he shoots shows a guy who knows exactly what he's doing, even though his reasoning may not make sense to rational people. The description of the students' and teachers' reactions, the victims' varied reactions prior to being shot, were consistent with what I imagine the reality to be. It certainly had my heart pounding through most of it.

The only real break from the action were the flashbacks wherein the narrators share their memories of Tyler. Tyler didn't seem like a bad guy at first, especially when he was with Claire. However, the abuse and bullying pushed him further over the edge, to the point where he would do terrible things just so he could keep Autumn close to him.

Of the four narrators, I liked Claire the best, even though her denial over Tyler was painful to read. Tomas was also okay, though his single-mindedness when it came to protecting his sister stressed me out. It was a good thing Fareed was there. Out of all the characters in the book, he was, by far, my favorite. He was able to keep a clear head and did what needed to be done. He was the real hero in this book, in my opinion.

My original rating for this book was 3.5. I debated on whether to round it down to 3 or round it up to 4. The reason why I was even considering a 3 rating was because of Autumn and Sylv. During the first half of the book, I didn't like Autumn. I didn't get why she couldn't have stopped her brother during the start of the shooting. At the very least, she could have tried to reason with him. There was at least one life lost as a direct result of her not confronting her brother right away. As the story progressed, though, my dislike of her lessened. My dislike of Sylv, though, increased. There were a quite a few times when I rolled my eyes while Sylv was narrating. It was like she had no sense of self-preservation. I was especially pissed off that she disobeyed her brother's instructions at the end. Granted, no harm was done, but still, after everything was said and done, it came off as disrespectful to me.

The reason I'm giving this book 4 stars, then, is the ending. The epilogue was beautiful and brought tears to my eyes. It was a good note to end a book like this on.

Thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for the e-ARC.

THE GOOD:

  1. It's heart-pounding.
  2. It shows the inner conflict that people who were close to the shooter would probably feel in instances like this.
  3. The ending was heart-wrenching and beautiful. 

THE BAD:

  1. Autumn and Sylv can be frustrating sometimes. 

READ IT IF:

  1. You've wondered what those who are close to shooters feel when they find out that something like this has happened.
  2. You are looking for a good cry.
  3. You are interested in books with complex relationships. 

RATING:
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