Author: Marieke Nijkamp
Genre: Contemporary | Young Adult
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: January 5, 2016
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.
10:03The auditorium doors won't open.
10:05Someone 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 (goodreads).
This is Where it Ends is an important book for our time, too bad it was missing the emotional connection that I was expecting.
Plot: It's the first day of school and all students are crammed into the auditorium for the principal's annual Welcome Back speech. Everyone's mind is elsewhere, wondering who is in their classes, what they'll do after graduation, etc. All of this changes when the doors are locked and a former classmate with a gun starts targeting people.
This is Where it Ends takes place in little less than an hour and is told from multiple perspectives. All of these perspectives are connected to the shooter, but we are given very little backstory on his intentions through scattered memories. While I assumed that this would make the novel exciting, I found myself digging for more backstory instead of focusing on the shooter's actions. Over 20 people are killed during the standoff and I felt nothing for about 90% of these deaths. There was no connection to be formed, nor was there any time to grieve the deaths, which reminded me of how truly dangerous guns can be.
Maybe it's my age, but I felt a stronger connection with the last half of the book when parents and loved ones were fretting over the situation. I could imagine the pain and anguish the mothers and fathers in the crowds felt, and I liked howe Nijkamp utilized blogs and tweets to show how desperate the outside world was to understanding what was happening.
Characters: Nijkamp did a wonderful job bringing such a diverse group of characters together. I mentioned earlier that their memories of the killer are the only insight we have to his actions...and that is not enough. From the beginning, I wanted to know what made the shooter act. He chose the first day of class in a room where he knew everyone would be, but his thought process was confusing. At first, he seemed to have specific targets, but then his actions became more and more disorganized, and it was difficult to understand what his breaking point was. It didn't seem realistic to me that the shooter would have so much hate in his heart to start picking off his classmates one by one.
In terms of our perspectives, I found a handful of them to be overdramatic. I know it's a high-pressure situation, but they seemed to be playing heroes and taking risks without much thought.
Worldbuilding: The idyllic town of Opportunity was very well formed and I understood the social status and demographics of those who inhabited the town where "nothing happens." Because it was a high-pressure situation, I liked the sense of community that Nijkamp created.
Narration: As This is Where is Ends is told from multiple perspectives, the audiobook (thankfully) had multiple narrators. For the most part, they were nothing to write home about which is not necessarily a bad thing. The one issue I had pertained to the narrator for Claire. She sounded a lot older than what I expected for an 18-year old.
Short N Sweet: This is Where is Ends takes a lot of risks, but it didn't take enough risks for me to become invested.