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. Told from four perspectives over the span of 54 harrowing minutes, terror reigns as one student's calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.
This Is Where It EndsFeaturedHot
What worked: I have to make a confession. I was worried I might not be able to handle this story considering I lost my own sister Colette to gun violence in the 90s. But Nijkamp does a great job digging deep into what might set off someone to do such a horrific act of violence. We see not only the shooter Tyler but those personally connected to him. There's his ex-girlfriend Claire; his sister Autumn and her girl friend Sylvia, and finally Sylvia's brother Tomas. Readers get an inside view of how they are connected to Tyler. We feel their horror, guilt at not doing more, anger, and hatred. But there is not easy answer to the whys behind such a horrific act of violence.
I was teary eyed through most of this story. It's strong and doesn't flinch with the descriptions of what happens inside the auditorium. Kuddos to Nijkamp for peeling back the levels of a shooter without having him a caricature but rather a character with weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Even though his acts are despicable, readers get a glimpse behind the whys.
Quote from story:
Ty will still win if we give up now. If we live in fear.
Intense, gripping portrayal of not only a shooter but others around him. Kuddos for the author for peeling back what might otherwise be an one-dimensional killer. What leads up to the massacre is shown in haunting details. I thought I'd have a hard time reading this considering I lost my own sister to gun violence. THIS IS WHERE IT ENDS shows not only the hatred but the misunderstandings, hurt, pain, and sadness of a shooting.
2. Had me teary-eyed at the end. Make sure to have tissues close by.
I've never read a book like this before. Situations like the ones here portrayed are not very common where I live so I've always seen them happening very far away from me.
This book is set in a school under the siege of a teenage boy who's brought guns with him. It is told from the different perspectives of those who are trapped in the building and those who instead remained outside. None of the POVs belongs to the shooter. I really liked how each character had his/her own voice. They all felt different from one another and each one of them had had a relation of some sorts with the shooter so it gave the story several facets worth discovering. I really liked the diversity as well: POC characters, disabled ones, lesbians, really, well done there Ms Nijkamp!
Mine is a 3 star rating though because I didn't feel much attached to the story. I felt like the shooter's (Tyler) motivations were weak. It's awkward commenting on it since the issue presented is a serious one and people who go on a killing spree just because they're going through hard times are a real threat but for the sake of the narration I think that Tyler should have been given a much more in depth look. Maybe even a POV of his own, even though I do understand that the story is narrated from the perspective of the victims and Tyler deserved none.
Nonetheless I spent the last few chapters of it cocooned in my bed crying, it gives you a lot to think about and a great deal of empathy to exercise so if you're into that I'd recommend it. It is very short so it is really worth reading!
I also felt this book handled the social media aspects very well, although the Jay and Kevin thing I didn't really get. Were they ever actually introduced as non-digital people? I had an e-galley, so I couldn't flip back to see if we ever actually met either of them. But Mei's blog was touching, the conversation between CJ and her brother (or rather, his end of it) was well-done, and the coverage of the media being the heartless creatures who feed on tragedy was accurate and sad. Judging by her name (I haven't looked it up. Sorry), this woman is Scandinavian (update: she's Dutch), which means she lived through that awful island shooting in Norway. It was hard enough for those of us outside of Scandinavia, I can't imagine if it's your countrymen being slain like that. Except I can, I really and unfortunately can, many many times over.
I liked the multiple character POV, as this was the perfect story for that structure. I especially liked Tomas and Sylv's POVs, as I felt they handled sibling dynamics, redemption (Tomas being the screw-up turned hero), and teen relationships very well. Sylv and Autumn's relationship was sweet, and I felt that we're getting there on acceptance of non-hetero couples in schools. We're not there yet, and certainly not in Alabama, but progress is happening. This book had the forced checklist-style diversity that I usually find completely inorganic, and it still felt unnatural in the non-urban parts of Alabama, but in this context it seemed to work. Having the Arab (Afghan?) kid be a hero was awesome, the devotion to family of the Latino students was realistic, the disabilities were handled well, and the clique diversity was pretty accurate to a school that size as well. I also know she is a part of DiversifYA, so it makes sense that her debut novel would be stuffed to the brim with diverse characters.
I read this book in 4 hours, so it must be good. There were some kinks that a debut author always has, but she has a promising ability with characters and plot flow (never a dull moment!). I recommend this to teens and teachers, but I think it will be (stupidly) banned in some places because of the homosexual characters and the violence. Because why let our children read books about something they could actually live through and people they will meet and interact with? Let's keep them in a protective bubble until they're 18 and then thrust them out into the world completely unprepared...
After reading the synopsis, I had to read this book. This book spans only 54 horrifying minutes of a school shooting. I was very curious as to how this book would be put together and how it would tackle such a tough subject. I thought it handled everything really well and the book was very well written!
The way this book is written is very unique and I admit that I was also very intrigued by the formatting. Not only does this book's story last less than an hour, and even gives a time-stamp each 'chapter', but there were multiple different perspectives as well. We see the event through the eyes of Claire, Tomas, Autumn, and Sylv. I was a little thrown at first to have so many different perspectives, but the characters were so immensely different and so well-developed, that I was easily able to differentiate them. First I would like to mention that all the characters are very diverse! What I also liked was how we got to see the backgrounds of all four of the characters and how they all were somehow connected to the shooter.
I really liked this book and I thought it was very unique and harshly real, but for some reason I cannot bring myself to give this book a 5/5. I feel bad saying this, but for some reason this book didn't make me feel as strongly as I thought it should've made me feel. Did I feel anything at all? Yes! Of course! I'm not entirely heartless! But I didn't feel on the edge the whole time, with my heart being torn into shreds.
Overall, I thought this was a very stand-out debut novel! I was very impressed by it! The writing was fantastic, the characters were very well-developed, and the tough subject matter was handled very well. For some reason this book didn't make me as emotional as I expected from the subject, but I still liked this book. I will most definitely be reading any other books Marieke Nijkamp writes!