I received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
I have always enjoyed young adult books. Even though I am past the target audience, I still enjoy browsing at the bookstore or checking out the new release shelf at the library. As soon as I read the summary of This is Where It Ends, I knew that I wanted to read it.
This is Where It Ends is the debut novel of author Marieke Nijkamp. It is the story of a school shooting at Opportunity High School in Opportunity, Alabama. The entire story takes place in less than an hour, methodically broken up into chunks of a few minutes at a time. There are four different narrators, each of whom has a connection to Tyler, the lone shooter. Claire dated Tyler briefly the year before. Autumn is Tyler’s sister. Sylv is Autumn’s girlfriend. Tomas is Sylv’s brother. Some of these narrators are in the auditorium when the shooting begins, and some are not. Each of these characters has experienced setbacks, even devastating losses. These incidents have affected them profoundly, and shaped their personalities and their hopes and dreams for the future. But none of that matters when Tyler storms into the high school auditorium and starts shooting. All that they can do is hope and pray that they will survive the onslaught, as Tyler exacts his revenge methodically and without any remorse.
I found This is Where It Ends to be a deeply moving book. I was halfway through my read-through when Paris was attacked. The line between fiction and reality was blurred; something like this really could happen anywhere. I continued to read, not because I expected a “happily ever after” but because I hoped that I might find some brightness amidst the chaos and destruction. The story moves quickly; as I’ve mentioned, the whole plot is condensed into less than an hour. In that time, we receive a remarkable amount of insight into four different people and what has led them to where they are.
In addition to choosing characters with rather unique backgrounds (not everyone is white and/or straight), Nijkamp also incorporates social media into her story, including blog posts and tweets from students in the auditorium and people who are following real-time as the incident unfolds, unable to anything to help.
I would absolutely recommend This is Where It Ends. It’s a very intense story, but it is a worthwhile read. I had trouble putting the book down. I’m looking forward to reading more books by Marieke Nijkamp in the future.