Title: This is Where It Ends
Author: Marieke Nijkamp
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Time taken to read: 4 days
Goodreads synopsis: 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.
This one was not easy to read.
School shootings are my absolute biggest fear. As a teacher, I face that fear every day, and every day I have to wonder if I will have to give my life for my students that day. So I didn’t get very emotional when I read this, but I think that’s probably because I didn’t let myself get truly enveloped in the story. I couldn’t. It would be too horrifying for me to read this narrative of things that happen all the time all over our country. THIS IS WHERE IT ENDS is barely fiction.
I think because of that, I wasn’t really able to engage with the text enough to really form opinions. I’m reading other reviews now, and I’m realizing how flat most of the characters were. Their voices in each of the perspectives are indistinguishable. However, I have to disagree with what a lot of reviewers are saying about Tyler being an almost cartoonish villain, with no complexity and no clear motivation. Tyler has clearly been abused in multiple ways throughout his life, and he lost his mother. So there’s some motivation. And as Autumn tells us, Tyler is not all bad. He helped her dance in secret when her father forbid it. He was her rock. But if I understand correctly, he snapped when he started to feel like Sylvia was taking Autumn away from him. And he’s apparently homophobic, so that made him angry. He’s a pretty bad dude, but I think he has more complexity than many reviewers give him credit for.
I will say, I was so over Autumn and Sylvia’s relationship by, like, the second page. Holy moly. How many different ways can you say they love each other? It’s exhausting. It’s like the author was trying to be like, “Look, I support the gays!” Congratulations. We get it.
You know, I’m starting to wonder if all that didn’t play a part in my inability to connect fully with this book. But I’m still giving it three stars because I was really hooked on the plot and finding out who survives and who doesn’t.
Now I’m off to a writers’ group meeting. Happy reading and writing, friends!