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Monday, October 31, 2016

Review - This is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

Title: This is Where It Ends
Author: Marieke Nijkamp
Publication Date: January 5th, 2016
Category/Genre: Young Adult Contemporary

10:00 a.m. The principal of Opportunity 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 a.m. The auditorium doors won't open.

10:05 a.m. Someone starts shooting.

Told from four different perspectives over the span of fifty-four harrowing minutes, terror reigns as one student’s calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.

Buy Links: Amazon 
2 “I just  can’t” Stars

I just can’t get behind this book. I don’t like being mean on reviews, but this is such a serious topic that I’m afraid my review will come out a little mean. So, warning ahead (and apologies in advance):

Warning: slightly mean review. Probably best not to read it if you loved the book. If you do read it, though, please don’t curse me.

“This is Where It Ends” is a NYT best seller, and I can understand why this book was on that list. It has a lot of strong elements that could make a great story (and there are plenty of reviewers who think it did make a great story): a strong concept, a topic that will sure touch the heart of many people, a diverse cast of characters and good writing. The problem I had with this book was its execution. I don’t understand why this book was written the way it was.

For fifty-five minutes, we watch a student shoot his fellow classmates and teachers. And that’s about all that happens.

Don’t get me wrong here. I am terrified of this type of situations. I’m not American (not that I’m saying this only happens in the U.S.A, but it sure happens a lot there), and I’ve never gone through something similar, but thinking about all the horrible shootings that had happened still makes me want to cry. That was something I expected from this book, too… But it failed to touch me on that level.

I admire the author’s idea and the risks that come with writing a book about school shootings, but unfortunately this book brought nothing new to the picture. At times, I felt like I was reading the news. It didn’t have any depth. It was just four people talking about a lunatic with a gun. I still don’t know who those people really were. I sure as heck don’t know why the shooter acted the way he did—sure there was a motive thrown in there, but it didn’t feel realistic. The way I see it, he was just a lunatic with a gun. That’s it. And that’s so not what I wanted from this.

I expected so much more from this story. In fact, I expected a story, and not a retelling of facts that we (unfortunately) see on the news more often than any of us wish we did. I wanted to see the shooter break… I wanted to understand what made him break. Truly. Not what was given to us in a rush. I know some people are uncomfortable with the idea of having the shooter’s POV (I might be one of them), so I’m not saying we needed that. But we needed to experience what drove a boy who protected his little sis to grab a gun, lock dozens of students and teachers inside a room (his little sis, included) and simply shoot them.

And there was so much death. The fact that I didn’t know those characters made it even worse. Not because I couldn’t feel anything when they were shot and killed… I did. I felt many things. Sadness. Anger. Grief. But not exactly for those characters. It was for everyone who’s ever died from mass shootings. For all the innocent lives lost. While I have to congratulate the author for evoking those feelings (see the 2 stars up there), those still weren’t directed to the characters in her book, which makes me think there’s something seriously wrong with the story.

While I don’t disapprove of the choice to have four POVs, I can’t say I connected with them, either. I didn’t like Autumm at all. I’m sorry, I just… I couldn’t get behind her. There were too many situations where her actions just made me dislike her instantly. I won't go into details because of spoilers, but let's just say that as her sister and, apparently, the main reason he was there shooting innocent people, she should've tried harder to stop that before he made all those victims.

Claire just didn’t do anything for me.

Sylv and her brother were a bit better. But I still expected more from their connection. I think Tomas was a better character than his sister, though she was the one in the spotlight with Autumm. When it came to those siblings, Tomas' feelings were a bit more clear than Sylv's. I definitely expected a different reaction from her in the end.... Or better yet, I expected a reaction, but I don't think she had one and that was a major WTF moment.

Something else that stood out was how slow and innefective the cops were. I mean... the shooter terrorized the school for almost an hour and no police? Seriously? I mean... Seriously? Nope. 

I could’ve ignored all (or most) of this if the story had brought something… anything different or unique. I needed more. I needed something different from news report or the things we can find on Google or Wikipedia. I realize this is harsh, but if you’re going to touch such an important subject, you can’t just play safe. You need to make sure readers understand why this book was written. You need to add layers and layers, and with this book, I couldn’t find one.

*If you liked this review (or not), if you read the book (or not), come say hello and leave your comments bellow.

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