Saturday, July 16

Marieke Nijkamp - This Is Where It Ends

"We'll be stronger than our fear. We'll make it out of here today. We'll find a way."

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.

This Is Where It Ends is unlike anything I've ever read. It is dark, powerful and, above all, so real and well-written that I was able to feel the characters' despair and grief. It is also one of the toughest books I've ever read - there were parts where I had to stop and take a deep breath before I was able to continue reading. Yeah, this is "just" a book, but it is written in a way that didn't let me forget that school shootings do happen - a lot more times than we'd like to think about them.

The tweets and the reporters added such a realistic layer to the novel. Oftentimes when something horrible happens, the outsiders, especially the media, have a way of treating it as fascinating news and stories, rather than real life events that happened to real people. Marieke Nijkamp was able to acknowledge that perfectly in her book.

The characters were mediocre, in my opinion, which was a huge problem, considering that this was pretty much a character driven novel. If they hadn't mentioned personal details about themselves constantly, I wouldn't have been able to tell them apart, because most of their voices were quite similar. That said, kudos to the author for the diversity - I especially liked Fareed, as I feel like Muslims and other religious characters are nearly nonexistent in YA.

There were 4 different perspectives and I can't help but feel like one, or even two, could have been easily taken out of the book without affecting the story. For one, Claire's point of view didn't really add anything to the novel, on the contrary, it tore me out of the edge-of-your seat feeling the others who were inside the school gave me. I get that the readers need a breath of fresh air in serious novels like this, but I felt as though the other characters' flashbacks had that covered much better than Claire's parts. 

"You can't always keep your loved ones with you. You can't always settle your life in one place. The world was made to change. But as long as you cherish the memories and make new ones along on the way, no matter where you are, you'll always be at home."

About the shooter (Tyler)... I know that a lot of reviewers felt like Marieke Nijkamp portrayed him as the ultimate evil guy, as someone who was all black, no white. Frankly, I do not agree with that. Even Sylv, a character he caused lots of harm to, saw him as more than that, as did some of the others. They had nice memories about him, memories from not so long ago when he could be all charm and love... when he was excited and pumped thinking about a quiet future life. Next to that he wavered a few times - which showed me that he was, indeed confused and not all that sure in himself and his 'goal' as he thought.

Also, am I the only one who actually liked that we didn't FULLY understand what drove Tyler? First off all, HOW could we even comprehend what drives a person to such extremes? But more importantly, this was not Tyler's story, but the victims', told from their perspective. Will the victims of such crime ever understand the whys? Probably not, at least, not fully. And I think the author portrayed that amazingly.

One question I have upon finishing the book - are the police really THAT fucking helpless when a school shooting happens? I get that they have limited options, but COME ON, they didn't seem to be doing anything helpful in the whole novel. They were just... there and literally helped in nothing besides taking notes on Tyler's character. But it's not like they communicated with him at any point, so that was quite unnecessary, as well. I don't get this.

"Everyone has a reason to fear the boy with the gun."

Don't you think that that sentence goes a bit too far and builds up expectations that the book doesn't meet? Like it over-dramatizes the story? Because the characters didn't have a reason to fear Tyler, at least not in the way that sentence suggests - as though they committed something against him. Unfortunately, some parts of the novel sounded a bit over-dramatized, as well, mainly I mean some of the conversations - BUT don't take my opinion on that for granted for obvious reasons.

I can't help but bring up the cover, partly to end this review on a positive note, but mostly because it's one of the simplest, yet most fitting covers I've seen in awhile.

The story idea: 4/5
The realization of the story: 3/5
The characters: 2.5/5
The cover: 5/5
Enjoy factor: 3/5


  1. Yeah I didn't enjoy this all as much as I wanted to. It's obviously devastating, but i felt like the characters made really dramatic decisions that they would not make in real life. It took away from the realism.

    1. Felt the exact same way, so I'm planning on reading another book on the same topic to see school-shootings in a different, more realistic light.

  2. It's always disappointing when the characters fall flat. But I'm still glad you liked this one because I have been wanting to read it for a while but saw no reviews on it! A girl got shot at my high school and although it wasn't a mass shooting like this one seems to be, it's always stuck with me. But I can totally see how this would be over dramatized. When the shooting at my school happened it was nothing more than a long 6 hours or so sitting in a dark classroom waiting for news (although for others I know it was worse). I think I'll still give this one a go at some point, and awesome review!

    1. It was definitely an exciting page-turner, even if it disappointed in some aspects. Oh god, I can't even imagine how horrific that must have been. Hope you'll enjoy this one.. as much as one can enjoy a book with a subject such as this. Thanks! :)


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