Published: January 5th 2016 by Sourcebooks Fire
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 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.
“And I know the auditorium may be big enough to hold a thousand students, but it's too small to hide just one.”Well, it sure comes as a surprise that This Is Where It Ends took a lot longer to read than I intended. Usually when one takes so long to read, it was a bit too easy to set the book down. There were no long reading sessions, nor did I sit on the edge of my chair. What I first expected to be a thrill ride with lots of emotion, left me feeling numb.
I wanted to love this book more than anything else. The amazing premise set my hopes high, only to be disappointed afterwards. School shootings are more current than ever, with Columbine and Sandy Hook as most-known. It's intriguing and controversial, but lured me in very easily. Although it started off with a bang (pun intended), this book turned so shallow so quickly. Nijkamp failed miserably in portraying a realistic school shooting. I have never witnessed one, nor do I have any experience with it, but the whole situation was kind of hard to believe. There was so much Black-and-White Thinking, it completely left no depth nor complexity for something so emotionally gripping. No shooter is born evil, or is all just evil. There is much more behind a person than being evil, and the shooter was in no way portrayed like that. Readers get the impression that he's a monster and there is nothing to do to save him. All it did, was causing cringe-worthy scenes where a significant other tried to convince the shooter that he can be changed.
At first the writing style appealed to me. As soon as the book started, the tension was building up at a steady pace. In those moments I clutched the book and flew through the pages. Every chapter was only a few minutes long, so naturally there were a lot of thinking instead of action. The tension was palpable, yet after a while, it was inevitable to get bored. The outstretched chapters began to work at my disadvantage, as the action was kind of overwhelmed by mental processes, flashbacks, unnecessary tweets and blog posts. The necessary tension began to fade away, and so did my attention span. It was sad that suddenly I could put the book down very easily, and not bother what could happen next.
Most might already know that the author is a member of several groups that promote diversity in young-adult books. Therefore it doesn't come as a surprise that This Is Where It Ends also counts quite a few diverse characters, which I really appreciated. Every author who adds diversity into their books, is one to applaud. To move on to the several POVs: I first feared that there were too much. An author's inability to write in different voices occurs more often than not, which mostly causes my inability to distinguish all the characters. In the beginning I had trouble figuring out all the relationships and connections, and separating the backgrounds, but it didn't last very long. The more I progressed with the book, the more I started to appreciate all these connections between the characters and the shooter. It just shows how small a school can be at times.
I still don't know how I feel exactly about This Is Where It Ends. Although it contained several aspects I enjoyed, the more I read, the more my disappointment grew. In all honesty, this could have been so much better, if not for the predictability, the Black-and-White Thinking and the writing style.