This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
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.
The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.
The auditorium doors won't open.
Someone 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.
Harrowing is right.
There's not a better word to describe this book. There are others, sure, but I'll get to those in a second. The description above is right on the back cover. You know exactly what's going to happen. You know exactly when it's going to happen. Each chapter begins and ends with this small time stamp that carves away the story's exposition, leaning you further and further into the madness that you know is imminent.
And when 10:05 arrives, it arrives with fury.
This book was one of the hardest YA books I've ever read. Even before 10:05, I wanted the story to continue progressing. But at the same time I didn't, because I knew what was waiting around the corner. I felt torn, like I was listening to a friend reminisce over a tragedy. The obligation to hear and comfort is there, as is the urge to shrink back a little from what's being said.
Still...I couldn't put it down.
I kept turning the pages, drinking in every line and word, but cringing at the scene as it unraveled. I developed this sense of extreme kinship with Claire, Tomás, Autumn, and Sylvia and hated myself for allowing that to happen since I had no idea what any of their fates might even be. I despised the shooter with every fiber of my being, then found that animosity slowly mix with pity as the story progressed.
This story tore my head and my heart in half.
Just like it was supposed to do.
So, yeah. It was harrowing. But it was also incredible and courageous and honest and important. Marieke doesn't sugar-coat anything in This Is Where It Ends. And why would she? A topic like this is laced with severity and tragedy. But it's one that needs to be told. It's one that needs to be read.
And I am so very glad I did.
This Is Where It Ends will be available for purchase from Sourcebooks Fire on January 5, 2016.