Tuesday, January 5, 2016

This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

Author: Marieke Nijkamp
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: January 5, 2016
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

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. 

The auditorium doors won't open.

Someone starts shooting.

This explosive, emotional, page-turning debut about a high school held hostage is told from the perspective of four teens—each with their own reason to fear the boy with the gun.
What a powerful book. I sat in my bed sobbing multiple times while reading. I knew, given the subject matter, that it would be tough to read, but I underestimated just how much it would affect me. I couldn't help but think about if it happened in my little community. With all of the shootings in the media, you start to almost expect that tragedy will eventually strike home. I worry about it every time I drop my son off at school. Then I get angry that parents and students even have to worry about it at all. 

This Is Where It Ends follows the events of a school shooting through the eyes of four different students: Claire, Tom├ís, Sylvia, and Autumn. Their stories are all intertwined, as you find out fairly early on. You get to know each of them a little bit before the shooting takes place, but it's after the first bullet is fired that you really get to know the characters. They show a level of bravery that is so admirable and it makes you hope that you would have that kind of courage in the same situation. 

Character development is essential for any story and it can be tricky to make readers seriously connect with just one character, let alone four. The author, Marieke Nijkamp, did an outstanding job by examining relationships, family life, and individual personal stories to help deepen the connection. With each new insight, I became more and more invested in them and kept praying that they would be safe.

Scattered throughout were social media messages from students trapped in the school, as well as people at home worried about friends, family, and fellow classmates. At first I was thrown off; why wouldn't they just text instead of posting it to Twitter or Facebook? Of course, social media is such a huge part of everyday life now. I think it's become even more popular than texting and your message can reach a far wider audience. Some of the messages were heartbreaking, especially since you, as the reader, are privy to the fate of their loved one/friend; others made me want to scream, such as the anonymous commenter proclaiming the whole thing was a hoax. I liked that the postings gave a little insight into what others were thinking and feeling, not just the main characters.

I can't say enough good things about This Is Where It Ends. Here I am, a day after finishing the book, and I can't stop thinking about it; I still feel grief and loss because of these fictional characters. This is definitely a must-read for 2016.

If you would like to learn more about the author, Marieke Nijkamp, please check out her website and connect with her via Twitter.

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