This is Where it Ends was on my list of most eagerly awaited 2016 debuts. I heard about it in fall of 2015 and requested it on both Netgalley and Edelweiss. I did not receive it on either, so I grabbed it for my Kindle once it was released. I was not sure what to expect, as a story about a high school shooting is not an easy thing to read about. As I read, I waived between fascinated and heart broken and am still not sure if I fully processed the story. Set in just 54 minutes, the story hops between multiple viewpoints as a gunman enters during a school assembly. Those trapped on the inside and those desperately waiting on the outside alternate the storytelling. It is an hour no one will forget and an hour no one wants to remember.
The pacing was rapid. Each chapter covered at most five minutes and much was packed into each minute. The writing was sharp and crisp. There was a clean feeling to the narrative, with a lot being conveyed with just a few words. The world created was a little nebulous as the only setting was a high school and the action left little time for description. This was an extremely emotional book. Young people dying, running, rescuing and sacrificing made for a powerful read. The characters were well fleshed out with the little said about their backgrounds. Just enough was know to be able to feel for them and with them.
Marieke Nijkamp crafted a tale that resonates. The premise of a school shooting should be something abhorrent, but Nijkamp was able to interweave strong emotions amongst the action and disdain felt for the shooter that I finished the book satisfied with the way everything had wrapped up. This is Where it Ends is not an easy book to read or review, but I believe it may be one that becomes powerful like Thirteen Reasons Why in understanding a very difficult situation. I am interested in seeing what Nijkamp will do as a follow-up as this may be a tough book to top.
Favorite lines – If I don’t get out of here, what will be left of me? Who will remember me? It’s easier to know who I’m not than to know who I am. When everyone expects me to fail, it’s easier to give up than to try. The next gunshot makes my knees buckle.