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Thursday, March 24, 2016

Review: This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp
Publication Date: January 5, 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
A Young Adult novel
Pages: 285
Genre: Contemporary, Realistic Fiction

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.
*An advanced reader's copy was provided by the publisher for an honest review*

This is Where it Ends was a novel that I was looking forward to because of its gritty, realistic topic surrounding a high school shooting. Yet, the novel does not do itself justice. 

First book of 2016 that I ended up reading, and I was thoroughly disappointed. I really did not want to give this book a 2 target rating, but poor circumstances brought about in the exposition of the novel: it fell flat. Flat characters, a drawn out plot with no emotional attachment or development in the characters or emotional involvement towards the multi-perspective narration (not an effective way) of maintaining the victims. The writing was lackluster and drawl for a gritty, emotional topic of a school shooting. It was bland, and I expected much more conviction and emotion especially with a topic such as this. Not just a by-stander's approach to understanding a school shooting.

The intrusion of social media, text messages/emails, and blogs on top of the active narration and the flashbacks made it very hard to stay in-tune with the story. The writing style was in as much chaos as the shooting depicted. I love when novels put in technology, but Nijkamp could have formatted her novel better to give readers an emotional investment rather than just breeze through this book like I had.

When I read multiple voices in a story I expect one of those to be the antagonist of the novel. Why? Because I want to understand the character's reasoning for their actions. Why did this young boy decide to bring a gun to his school? To begin shooting? What was he thinking? So when I picked up This Is Where It Ends I thought that I would be reading a POV of the school shooter rather than four different scared boys and girls whose stories merge and blend. The thrill was there with ambiguity on the shooter's actions, but I felt disconnected from the story because of these same-shade points-of-view. I think the story would have increased in interest if we had short bursts of the antagonist's thoughts and reasoning from a primary source. While many of the characters are diverse in their own way, their voices did not diversify themselves in the heat of the moment.

 Two targets was a sincere gesture.