I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
View on Amazon
“Together, we’ll survive this. Together, we’ll be strong enough to face whatever comes our way. This is where it ends.”
This Is Where It Ends tackles the controversial topic of high school shootings, an all-too-frequent phenomenon which has gained plenty of media coverage in the last few years. The story’s shooter begins his rampage at 10.05am and the book spans the harrowing hour which shapes the students of fictional school Opportunity High forever. It’s a bold move for a debut, and the fast-paced timespan makes for a tense, compulsive read.
The story is told from four different perspectives; all students at the school, all connected in some way to the perpetrator. Two of the narrators – Autumn and Sylvia – are locked inside the school auditorium where the events take place, which the others – Claire and Tomas – are outside, doing their best to help.
The author has a passion for diversity in fiction and it shines through in her characters; two of the main characters are Hispanic, two are in a same sex relationship and one is Muslim. She also touches on illnesses such as Lupus amongst the more minor characters. For the diversity, she has to be applauded, but unfortunately I did feel the characters were a tad underdeveloped. This may have more to do with the fact that the book spans a very short timeframe and is under 300 pages than the author’s writing – there’s only so much you can fit into that space, especially with a mass murder going on.
I can’t help thinking that the characters’ proximity to the perpetrator detracted a little from the book’s potential; I would have loved an objective, outsider’s view of the shooting – how the community or the police were reacting, for example. Instead, it feels at times that the attack itself is more used as a tool to explore the main characters’ relationships with one another, to heighten tension and force emotions and secrets to the surface which may have otherwise remained hidden.
That having been said, there is plenty of tension packed into this short book; the author does not shy away from the cold, hard facts of the event. There were times when I didn’t want to read on due to the sheer brutality and other points where I couldn’t put the book down. There’s great writing too – it’s a strong debut, and Nijkamp holds her own against other YA authors, I just feel the topical subject and myriad of subplots may have been just a little too ambitious.
I’m a little bit torn with this one. I enjoyed it, but I just feel it could have been so much more. If you’re looking for an edgy, gripping YA contemporary read then this is for you – if you’re looking for an in-depth look at school shootings, the psychology behind them and the impact on the community, I’d look elsewhere.