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.
I sort of knew what I was getting myself into when I decided to read this novel. Sort of. It turned out to be even worse and better than I thought it might be. Let me explain.
School shootings are the kinds of events that make us cry, shudder in dread, and leave us baffled and scared, regardless of the attempts at explaining the causes and effects and trying to make some sense out of the whole traumatic experience. Though I can never make sense of any violent act, and these seem particularly heinous to me, along with pedophilia and rape. But This Is Where It Ends gives us startling POVs of victims, of survivors, snippets of reactions from media and/or the public – everything but the shooter’s POV, I might dare say. While I don’t generally like multiple POV, and present tense narratives often annoy, I feel the combo was a very smart choice here.
There’s a lot going on during the read: survivor’s guilt, sacrifice, terror. Following these characters was completely gut-wrenching. The diversity of characters was a welcome surprise, and the array of issues teens deal with felt well depicted and not over-done or preachy in any kind of way. It made the whole thing even more painful. I loved the hell out of a few characters, like Tomas, or Sylv, and I felt a rush of such visceral hate for the monster of the story: Tyler’s murderous, sadistic violence.
I could go on and on about this novel, but it wouldn’t do it justice. It’s a great novel, I feel it doesn’t overplay anything and is an all the more effective delivery of its messages for it. And this is why it’s the first Bomy Award of Excellence of this year.
If you’re strong enough to go through a lot of anger, fear, and pain, experience This Is Where It Ends. It will touch you. It will change you.