Title: This Is Where It Ends
Author: Marieke Nijkamp
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire (Sourcebooks)
Release Date: January 5, 2016
Acquired Via: Publisher
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.
The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.
The auditorium doors won’t open.
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 Ends is not a book that I would normally consider reviewing, though it caught my eye (the author is a big advocate of diversity in books), because the subject matter is very heavy. I am an escapist reader, and since I have a school-age child, it's not my first choice to read about something that I already worry about. That being said, the lovely people at Sourcebooks were kind enough to send me an ARC at the library, so I figured I could read it as a librarian and give it some attention here, too.
I do want to say before I get into the review that I did not like This Is Where It Ends. However, with it being so short and action-packed, I think it will be great for reluctant teen readers. I will be putting it into the hands of kids at the library. Easy, action-packed reads are important. Now for my thoughts on the book itself.
Since Marieke Nijkamp is such an advocate for diverse books, I began reading This Is Where It Ends with a high expectation of the characters. Sadly, I found them to be pretty flat. There are multiple points of view and students representing every walk of life. There are black, Latino, Middle-Eastern, LGBT, rich, poor, disabled, etc. individuals in the book, and I think something might have gotten lost in trying to color the book equally. Don't get me wrong - I loved seeing a diverse cast, but the book was too short to have everyone's story AND tension from the shooter. By showing us everyone, I wasn't able to connect with anyone in the story.
Note: I greatly appreciate Nijkamp not casting the Middle Eastern as the shooter. I respect the hell out of her for that.
There is obviously violence in This Is Where It Ends, but it seemed a little gratuitous to me. Yes, I really that school violence tends to gratuitous because of the nature of the beast, but the narrative seemed to go a bit over-the-top at time. There was a lot of grand-standing in general by the characters - which didn't seem realistic at all - and it felt forced. The shooter, Tyler, was not fleshed out, so it read like he was shooting just for the sake of shooting. He was so one-dimensionally evil that I expected him to go "muahahaha" at any moment. When someone breaks and shoots up a school, there is at least some kind of bullying or underlying mental illness. That was barely used.
This Is Where It Ends wasn't my favorite book, but I can definitely see the benefit of having it around. Maybe someone who doesn't normally see people who look like them in print will make them feel more included as a reader. Hopefully more diverse books will be coming along sooner rather than later.
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To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an advance copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This has in no way affected the outcome. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own.