This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp
Published: 05.01.2016 by Sourcebooks Fire
Genre: Realistic Fiction, YA
Rating: 4.5/5 stars – ★★★★.5
Synopsis: 10:00 a.m. The principal of Opportunity 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.
10:03 a.m. The auditorium doors won’t open.
10:05 a.m. Someone starts shooting.
Told from four different perspectives over the span of fifty-four harrowing minutes, terror reigns as one student’s calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.
I think I saw this book on Goodreads in 2015, and couldn’t wait to pick it up after its release. 2016 came around, and I didn’t get around to buying it. I did see many glowing reviews though, and the title always stuck with me. Imagine my surprise when I saw it at my local library! (For context: my local library doesn’t have a very big English section, and the books they do have are usually adult books like classics, mystery/thriller, general fiction and romance). I immediately added it to my pile of books I wanted to take home.
I think I read this book in a span of hours. Maybe 2 or 3? I don’t know. I kept putting it down because I was doing some blog work, but then immediately picked it back up again. I couldn’t stop reading.
I have never been in a situation like this one. I have never experienced a school shooting. I have never gotten a drill as to what to do when a shooting happens. I don’t think school shootings really happen in Belgium? Guns are very regulated here, so the only people who have them are probably police/military agents, some licensed security people and old people who have a gun left from the World War. So I cannot relate to this situation whatsoever. But that’s what makes it such a must-read to me. I want to read about things other people, in other parts of this world, have gone through. Things they are afraid really could happen any day.
Because I hadn’t been in this situation (or been brought up with news of stuff like this happening close to me), I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to really feel the characters’ fear and anxiety. But man, was I wrong. I think Marieke Nijkamp did an incredible thing here. I truly felt for the characters. I was afraid for -and with- them. I was full of hope. I was filled with sadness. I was crippled by all the heartbreak and the families forever torn apart.
This book spans 54 minutes. We don’t even get to spend an hour with these characters. I knew this beforehand, and it made me hesitant. I was hesitant because I thought that I couldn’t possibly get attached to any character in only 54 minutes. How can I know them? How can I understand them? That fear was completely unfounded. I truly feel like I know these teenagers.
Autumn, the girl who only wants to dance -and be with Sylv.
Sylv, the girl who is in love with Autumn, whose dreams may be crushed by family.
Tomás, who would do everything for his twin sister. The prankster, the little rebel.
And finally, Claire, who so often worries for her brother. I think Claire was the POV I was least captivated by though.
I truly feel like I know, and care for, these teenagers and their family. I was captivated until the end, and nearly cried too. I think there are also quite some diverse aspects to this book? There’s a Latinx family, a person with disability, and LGBT+ relationship, etc. I don’t want to tell you too much, because you’ll have to discover that on your own.
I can only say, please go read this book.