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.
Kindle Edition, 288 pages
Published: January 5th 2016 by Sourcebooks Fire
Three stars: A book that exposes the horror and heartbreak of gun violence.
For the students at Opportunity High, January brings the start of another semester. The seniors are in their final push to graduation. The day starts with an assembly in the auditorium. After the principal finishes her pep speech, the students move to the doors to head to class. Something is wrong, the doors are locked. Loud shots ring through the air. Everyone freezes. For the next fifty four minutes, the entire student body and staff are trapped, locked in and held hostage by one very angry young man. What follows is a fight for survival as one boy vents his rage on his fellow classmates. Who will remain standing at the end?
What I Liked:
- This is the End is a powerful, horrifying and heartbreaking read. I am still struggling to find the words to review this one. Even though I had issues with the book, I can't deny that it was a riveting and frightening read once it hit its stride. This book takes you through the horror of a school shooting, which unfortunately has become a regular occurrence in our society. I recommend this book to everyone as I think it addresses an important and troubling issue, and this book is a good way to start a discussion.
- I appreciated that the author refrained from making this book an agenda. It doesn't provide any statistics or solutions. There are no politics and recommendations. It is real and raw story the exposes the tragedy of senseless violence. There are no answers given for how we can prevent these types of tragedies. We are still struggling with the answer. As I am writing this review, we are just a couple of days removed from another mass shooting incident in California. Is tighter gun control the answer? Do we need more services for mental health? Stricter screening in public places? Or is it as simple as everyone trying to be kinder to one another? I wish someone had the answer, but as of now, all we can do is try harder and hope we can somehow find a way to prevent more of these senseless acts of violence.
- Even though I struggled with the multiple view points in the story, I did appreciate that I got four different perspectives of the situation.
- Once the book takes off and the shooting starts, it is a riveting read. I couldn't put it down. The author does a good job of capturing the terror and horror and the feeling of helplessness that the students felt as they sat hostage watching a former classmate gun down friends and teachers. It was terrifying.
- The writing at times, is beautiful and moving. The author has great talent, and I appreciated many of the lovely similes and metaphors.
- The end is sad and hopeful at the same time. It shows the community pulling together as one to overcome the tragedy. We have witnessed this time and time again as we grieve and hurt. When will it stop?
And The Not So Much:
- I enjoyed this read, but I am conflicted in writing my review. I think the biggest flaw with the story was that it featured four different view points. The first few chapters of the book is all about introducing the characters. Normally, I don't mind multiple narratives, but this one was hard for me to settle into. I don't know if it was because the narration changed rapidly, or what it was, but I couldn't engage firmly with any of the characters. I don't think the four voices worked, and it took away from the read.
- The book also moves back and forth in time as it uncovers details from each character's past. Sometimes the information tied into the story, and at other times it didn't. I wasn't a fan of all the unnecessary flashbacks, especially when they didn't tie into the story.
- Along with the four narratives, there is also the inclusion of a girl writing a blog who was a former student at the school, and there is also a student who isn't at school that day engaging on twitter. Both the twitter and the blog were distractive, and I didn't feel like they had an impact at all on the story.
- The shooter comes across as a boy who spirals into madness and depression because his mother dies, his father becomes an abusive alcoholic, his sister is in love with a girl, and he has been picked on. You can easily understand why he snapped. However, I thought that he came across as cartoonish. Not everyone who suffers through hardship snaps, and you have to remember that anyone can become a shooter. In all honesty, I think the book would have benefitted if the author had included the shooter's narrative amongst the voices.
- There is one person who is narrating who makes a stupid decision at the end. I didn't get why he did what he did. It was ridiculous.
- There is a mention of rape, but then there isn't any more detail. Why didn't the victim come forward? It bothered me that this was just a brief snippet and nothing more.
This is Where it Ends is a powerful and emotional read that will terrify you as you witness the horror of gun violence in a school setting. I liked that the story was real and raw and that it refrained from an agenda. This is an up close look at the senselessness of a school shooting. I struggled though with the multiple perspectives and the choppy narration. Still this is a book I recommend as it covers such an important topic, and it is a good way to open up a discussion.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own, and I wasn't compensated for this review.