This is Where it Ends
Source: Netgalley, e-ARC
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*I was provided with this ARC by the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.*
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 don’t like to read books about serious subjects. When I read I want to be taken to a place where I don’t have to face problems and issues that we already see too much of everyday. That is why I don’t like books about disease/death, rape/abuse or even really mental illness or suicide. I get that these books are important and totally support them being written and other people reading them, I would rather just read a book where all of the worlds problems are disguised in terms of magic and whatnot.
So, for the life of me I don’t know why I requested This is Where it Ends, a book where the plot is told over 54 in the midst of a school shooting. I had no plans on actually reading it. And then I decided to make a blog and to dedicate myself to reading all of the ARCs I was lucky enough to be granted (future ARCs, that is. The ones from last year will probably continue to sit on my kindle).
So I went into this book knowing it wasn’t a subject I wanted to read about. I’d like to add that when I do decide to venture into the realistic, difficult topic type books, I expect to be destroyed. I want to be sobbing in a ball by the end of the book. Or I want to be so angry that I could rage for hours. Or my head to hurt from all the thinking the book forced me to do.
And all I feel right now is indifference. Ok, my eyes got a bit blurry at the end, but the rest of the time I was reading? I felt nothing. Actually, I was bored. Every time I “turned” the page, I had to tell myself not to DNF it. That a book with such a delicate topic deserved to be read. That these voices deserved to be heard.
But I kind of wish I DNFed it around 50% when I first wanted to.
I didn’t exactly expect it, but the synopsis told me this would be the ultimate game of survival. And while it was, because it was told from the POV of 4 different victims, it was still boring. It was basically a bunch of flashbacks so that readers can understand what made these four narrators special and their relationship to, Tyler, the shooter.
Autumn: Tyler’s sister. An aspiring ballerina with an abusive father.
Sylvia: Autumn’s girlfriend. POC. Mother is very ill. Tyler has it out for her for “stealing” and “corrupting” his sister
Tomas: Sylvia’s twin brother. Has gotten into fights with Tyler and knows Tyler did something that made his sister terrified of him. Is a lovable troublemaker.
Claire: Tyler’s ex girlfriend. ROTC member, does her duty. Has a brother with Lupus.
See these characters are so wonderful. And so, so boring.
Obviously a book with such an important topic doesn’t have to be non-stop action for it to be worthwhile, but I just couldn’t get over how bored I was. I could barely tell the characters apart and there wasn’t a single one that I actually connected with. Maybe I can’t connect with them because I have, thankfully, never experience anything as harrowing as this, but I should feel something for them. And I didn’t. If I didn’t have their names right up there I probably wouldn’t even remember them.
There was quite a bit of romance that I was not expecting for a book about a school shooting. Half the time the characters were going on and on about their love lives. And yeah, I’m sure it’s impossible not to think about the people you love in times of crisis, but it just went a bit too far in this book.
I have seen a few other reviewers mention that Tyler is presented as almost entirely evil . And I would kind of have to agree. It wasn’t my main issue with the book, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t notice it and that it didn’t detract from my overall feelings for the book.
Sidetrack here, but the thing I love most about the Game of Thrones series (ASOIF) is that there are such wonderfully complex, morally grey characters. Every time I read it, it reminds me that we don’t live in a world of Good vs Evil. It’s human vs human. In the wise words of some character in Harry Potter (can’t remember for the life of me): “the world isn’t split into good people and Death Eaters.” And this book doesn’t take either of those ideas into consideration.
So if there was ever a time to see someone like Tyler’s POV, this book would be it. Instead we are presented with pretty much just an evil kid hellbent on revenge. Actually, just go read Nenia Campbell’s review. I agree with everything she says and she does so way better than I can. Presenting the shooter in this way does nothing to help us understand how/why school shootings happen or how we can help prevent them.
Also, a lot of what bothered me about this book was that I couldn’t get a clear image in my head of what was going on. And it has nothing to do with the fact that in times of crisis things blur together. I think it had less to do with the fact that it was told from 4 different POV, and more to do with that it is told within 2-4 minute increments, with each character retelling the same events in some cases. An example is when Autumn is walking towards her brother in the auditorium, and it goes on for like 15 pages where he hasn’t noticed her and she is still walking. I’m probably not explaining it right, it just bothered me.
So I gave this book a 2. I was strongly in the 1 camp for the majority of it, but it did make me tear up and I did end up finishing it, so I didn’t exactly hate it. I was just disappointed.