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This Is Where It Ends

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The #1 New York Times Bestseller
A Buzzfeed Best Book of the Decade
A Paste Magazine Best Book of the Decade

Everyone has a reason to fear the boy with the gun…

10:00 a.m.: 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.

10:02 a.m.: The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.

The auditorium doors won't open.

Someone starts shooting.

In 54 minutes, four students must confront their greatest hopes, and darkest fears, as they come face-to-face with the boy with the gun.

Includes special bonus content: a letter from the author, discussion questions, two bonus chapters, a conversation with the author, and a playlist!

Praise for This Is Where It Ends:
A Buzzfeed Best Book of the Decade
A Paste Magazine Best Book of the Decade
A BookRiot Best Book of the Decade
A Professional Book Nerds Best Book of the Decade

"Marieke Nijkamp's brutal, powerful fictional account of a school shooting is important in its timeliness." —Bustle.com

"A gritty, emotional, and suspenseful read and although fictionalized, it reflects on a problematic and harrowing issue across the nation." —Buzzfeed

"A compelling, brutal story of an unfortunately all-too familiar situation: a school shooting. Nijkamp portrays the events thoughtfully, recounting fifty-four intense minutes of bravery, love, and loss." —BookRiot

288 pages, Hardcover

First published January 5, 2016

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About the author

Marieke Nijkamp

53 books1,967 followers
Marieke Nijkamp a storyteller, dreamer, globe-trotter, geek.


Please note I don't respond to friend requests or messages on GR, but you're always welcome to tweet or email me. :)

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5 stars
33,243 (27%)
4 stars
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3 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 14,174 reviews
January 6, 2016

This book is a travesty. This book is, quite frankly, an insult to all the victims, direct and indirect, of school shootings. School shootings are a fairly new epidemic, one of the most well-known being Columbine. It is also a morbidly intriguing one; the psychology of the people that committed said acts are deeply complex, and not to be taken lightly in exploration.

And yet that's what this foolish, belittling, dare I say, stupid little book does. It boils down the intricate psychology behind said act, behind the perpetrator down to "he was evil." Boom. Simple. That's it, right? That must be it.

One does not simply wake up one morning and decide "I'm going to kill my classmates." It is a simplistic, idiotic, fatally flawed frame of mind. Any minute bit of research, the dumbest fucking idiot in the world has access to a Wikipedia page, and even the merest glimpse into one of these pages would show that the reasoning behind these acts is not simply "he was evil."

This book is all black and white. The victims are good, sympathetic, pathetic, nearly indistinguishable from each other in their blandness. I feel this is a betrayal in portraying this way. The victims are diverse, they led different lives, they have hopes and fears and imperfections. Some of them are good. Some are not. Some are bullies, jerks, assholes. The writer of this book doesn't show that. Just because they're victims, they are all milquetoast in their mournability once they are lost, and to be honest, I can't recall any of them with clarity because there are so many of them and they're all utterly unmemorable. I can't remember their deaths. It is a crime to portray the victims in that way.

The shooter is evil and bad. Has been evil and bad, and will have grown up to be more evil and bad had he have gotten away and lived.

The book is sensationalistic. Like come on, when the bad guy is about to kill you, would this moment really have happened? Like, REALLY?
“You know, sweaty chic doesn’t suit you,” I muse.
Tyler falters, though only for a moment. “I should have known. Come to protect your sister? What are you going to do—hit me again?”
Again, this is just speculation, but to me, this is nothing that dramatic bullshit to make the book read better.

Tyler. The perpetrator. My god, what a one-dimensional character he is. Dare I say, murderers are always complex people. We read crime novels, mysteries, we watch mystery shows because it's the motivation of such an act that fascinates us. Some of my favorite book series in the world are murder mysteries because they are so addictingly macabre in their portrayal of the psychology behind such an act.

Tyler's character is as fleshed out as a vegetarian steak. He did it because he was bad. He did it because he wanted to be visible. Bullshit. People don't just kill because they wanted to be seen. They kill because they were bullied, oppressed, whether real or felt. They kill because of real or imagined slight that was amplified enough to fuel their rage to want to kill. They kill because they were abused, over and over, until the rubber band of their mind snap.

The psychology of such an act is so complex, and this book fucking misses the point completely. The diversity of the book - students of different color - feels so false. Token persons of color, that's all. This book deserves to disappear from the face of the earth.
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,990 reviews298k followers
September 2, 2016
We're not just fighting for survival - we're fighting for hope and a thousand tomorrows.

I am so disappointed. So so disappointed. This Is Where It Ends promises a look at a frightening and very real problem in the U.S. - school shootings - written by a We Need Diverse Books member. It should have been amazing. It could have been amazing if it wasn't dampened by cheap, sensational writing and a black and white sense of victims and villains.

School shootings are horrific things that open up so many questions. What does it take for someone to snap in such a way? What can possibly make someone turn a gun on their classmates and teachers? What is it about these people that makes them different from everyone else? Are they that different? In other circumstances, could that be me?

But this book never looks at such things. This is a very underdeveloped tale of drama. Right away, the different narrators tell their own sympathy stories - each is hurting, abused, though not really flawed, and diverse (and often victimized because of it). No mistake can be made: these are our victims. And they all have the same narrative voice.

On the opposite side, you have the shooter - Tyler Browne. He is vindictive and one-dimensional, walking around smiling and enjoying himself as he murders kids. As his past is revealed, it becomes clear Tyler is also abusive and a rapist. He is almost cartoonish in his villainy.

We are never taken deep inside his mind to see what made him do it. The flashbacks show that he was once different, but a piece of the story is clearly missing - when and how did he become this way? When did he go from being Autumn's loving brother to someone who deliberately antagonizes his father to get him to beat his sister? Some answers are given, but they are vague and superficial.

Documentaries and articles on the subject of school shootings often reveal that the shooters were bullied, victimized or simply unloved and ignored. They are usually consumed by sadness and anger that eventually explodes. This is quite a simplistic explanation and yet Tyler isn't even offered that. He is simply an evil shooter. It makes me feel very sad that he isn't given more humanity.

So much potential to look at an important issue and the psychology of teen shooters is wasted on cheap thrills. So many serious issues are brought up - abuse, rape, racism, etc. - and yet the pages remain devoid of emotion.

This book is like a shallow action movie where there are people with guns and others running around trying to survive. That's it. No depth.

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Profile Image for Jesse (JesseTheReader).
468 reviews176k followers
May 18, 2018
Hm... I'm going to need to think this one over before I share my thoughts.
Profile Image for Rose.
1,879 reviews1,064 followers
November 3, 2015
Initial reaction: I think my reaction to this book can be best summed up in something that I said in the context of the discussion I had with a few of my readerly friends:

"I think this might be a classic case of an author who tries to write a story that's bigger than their ability to tell and trying to incorporate too much without any rhyme or reason to it."

But I will say this very clearly:

This is NOT a fair portrait of a tragedy befalling its cast.

This is NOT a good psychological portrayal of the tough themes and choices the book touches upon in the scheme of its events.

This is ABSOLUTELY NOT a good portrayal of diversity, it's more of a offending reference of "otherness" and bland identity than anything else. And ye Gods, I'm angry at the portrayal here.

This is NOT a story I would recommend on its subject matter to be taken as a mature, resonant narrative on its themes. Try reading Jennifer Brown's "Hate List" instead.

Full review:

This is probably the point where people are saying "Okay, Rose. You have some explaining to do, because this actually sounds like a good book."

Initially, I thought so too, that's why I requested it as a galley. I was pumped over this book, something similar to my initial excitement to Katie Stout's "Hello, I Love You" (and we know how that experience turned out.)

This book is much harder for me to expound on its problems because there are two issues plaguing the better part of this narrative: the way it portrays the school shooting and the way it portrays its respective characters on an individual level as well as for the measure of including "diversity."

I'm going to start with the school shooting aspect of the narrative because that's the easiest one for me to point out the problems for. "This is Where It Ends" is an ambitious narrative, narrating from the perspectives of several teens who are caught in the crossfire of a student (Tyler) who returns to school to enact revenge on his student body for "not being seen" (this is a very terse summary of it, but truth be told, Tyler has very little motivation and this I'll get into when I talk about the characterizations). It's weird how this narrative chose to tell all of its respective conflicts without much suspense or development. I felt like I was never immersed in the environment of the school or the students' experiences, more like I was talked at for the entire time of how much "potential" or "possibilities" these teens had before this madman of a character barges in with a gun and starts shooting. It's an all or none scenario, and not only unrealistic, but it skirts the complexity of the situation for what actually happens in real life.

This book was emotionally manipulative because it was telling me what to think or feel about the scenario instead of allowing me an eye into the character's minds and experiences of the peril they were in. Same with trying to understand WHY Tyler snapped the way he did.

I don't think the deaths were even that resonant because I never got to know the characters or their relationships beyond very jagged inserts that seemed to weave in and out of the narrative without any consistency for portrayal. That made it very hard for me to hold interest in the narrative, and made the 54 minute ordeal drag out for much more time than it should've. (That's the downside of using a timeline and "head-hopping" between characters with very generous overlap and similar voicing.) Plus, when Tyler's described in the killing of his student body, the portrayal is very mechanical. I get that Tyler's actions are mechanical, that he's numb because of a number of different things (abuse, loss, neglect), but does the PORTRAYAL have to be mechanical? This is where I think Nijkamp messed that up because it didn't have to be. The scenario could've had more weight if it'd been more intimate to the character experiences. The problem was that there was NO intimacy with the characters, and an odd distance that prevailed in the narrative the entire time. It's talking at you, not showing you. Big no, no in this type of narrative.

Tyler's character was just completely bland for motivation to begin with and I had a hard time believing that he was anything but a "bad guy", from the fact that people somehow automatically knew the one shooting up the school was him to - you don't get any insight on his character other than the fact that he's immoral, evil, messed up - something that undermines the entire situation for the complexity it really has, whether on the level of mental illness or the relationships that Tyler has in his life and what pushed him to his breaking point.

As for the characterization, ye Gods this was the worst part of the novel by far. That's important because this kind of story hinges so much on characterization and trying to understand the backgrounds, quirks, definitions, emotions and actions of the characters when they're backed up against the wall. On one hand, you could probably hear me praising the skies that the author included the presence of POC characters and characters of different sexual orientations. But the presentation was so bland and skewed that I'm saying it's hurting the diversity leaning more than helping it. So much narrative space was dedicated to overemphasizing their "otherness" that the inclusion felt not only forced, but stereotypical and - dare I say it - prejudiced. Telling me fifty billion times that a character loves another girl and that they fit together does not convince me of the relationship - you have to SHOW those interactions, bring them to life, create context and value for them to make them more vivid. The repetition doesn't do anything for the characters themselves or showing their experiences and feelings. Using a bunch of random Spanish words (Madre de Dios got old very quickly, and how many teens do you think would say that?) and ill attributed stereotypical mannerisms does not convince me that you know how to write a Latino/a character.

And I especially CANNOT with the way this narrative treated Fareed's character. If you have to define his "otherness" with references to what you think is respectful in terms of defining the religion and/or practices of "his people", you've got serious problems portraying diversity. I feel like I don't know even know what ties these characters together besides what the narrative gives in terms of their "otherness". POCs and characters of different groups (whether by religion, creed, sexual identity, sexual orientation, etc) are not set pieces that one can just throw in a story willy nilly and automatically consider it inclusive. It's not a laundry list and it's not something you can just check off whenever you feel like it - it's all about the portrayal of the characters, the way they define themselves, their experiences and how they interact and deal with life and the situations they encounter. And this narrative did a mediocre job of all of that.

I'm just beyond disappointed in this story for not only what it chose to show, but also what it didn't. I was pulled into the story for the promises, but the connection was either lacking or absent, and that does not make for an enriching experience on such a tough narrative.

I would highly recommend Jennifer Brown's "Hate List" instead of this narrative, because it actually took the time to responsibly develop and delve into the difficult issues within its respective events while giving dimensional characters the reader could care about even if the scenario itself was hard to watch and come to terms with. Plus, you could more easily identify the characters and their respective voices without necessarily feeling like you're hopping around.

This...was just sadly lacking for a debut and tried too hard to be too many things at once, without even really making the lasting impression it aimed for.

Overall score: 1/5 stars.

Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from Sourcebooks FIRE.
Profile Image for Hailey (Hailey in Bookland).
614 reviews87.8k followers
October 15, 2017
The Short
Actual rating: 2.5*
Trigger warning: mass shooting, specifically in a school setting,

For fans of: The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis, Exit, Pursued by Bear by E.K. Johnston, Tease by Amanda Maciel (comps for this are admittedly hard to find as not many books tackle such an intense subject matter, so I included books that also tackle important issues.

Writing: 2.5 stars
Characters: 2 stars
Plot: 2 stars
Originality: 5 stars
(All out of 5 stars)

The Long
This is a classic case of a book having SO much potential but just barely scraping the surface on its subject matter. I had such high hopes for this story. The subject matter, focusing on a school shooting, is definitely topical and important. I was expecting an astonishingly powerful story that would fuel important conversations regarding gun control in the USA. While I'm sure this book will start conversations, as the topic has never been broach in YA before, at least not to my knowledge, I don't believe it has the far reaching qualities I had hoped. It had the opportunity to explore so many questions that come inevitably following a tragedy such as a school shooting, but it let those questions remain unanswered.

Over the course of this book you follow 4 characters perspectives in the 54 minutes after a student opens fire on his fellow classmates. While 4 perspectives sounds like a great idea, especially since they're scattered throughout the school campus for the most part, I felt like there certain characters I never really got the opportunity to really care for. Which brings me to my main issue with this book, it lacked the intense emotion I felt it should have had for such serious subject matter. Now of course the story contains some emotion to it, it would be impossible to write about such harrowing events without at least a little bit of feeling to it. However the emotionality didn't have the poignancy that would have taken this book from a 2.5 stars to maybe as high as a 5. I felt like the writing was just too casual for the topic and thus, it didn't give me the intensity I wanted.

The plot kept me going through the book, as the story had such tension to it. I was constantly wondering what would happen and if the 4 MCs we follow would survive. The focus on time helped to build this sense of foreboding as well. The plot was slightly unrealistic at times. I felt like the students were acting uncharacteristically considering what they were facing. It also didn't help that the writing made it very confusing trying to follow the movement of students in the small space they occupied.

What I think would have really made this book great is if it had not only focused on the 4 MCs, but also the shooter. There is some musing on the nature of his evil, but I felt like it was underdeveloped. There was a great opportunity there to consider how a teenager could turn into this evil monster that comes to murder his peers in cold blood. I love when books explore that uncomfortable notion that the division between good and evil is not so stark, and here was an opportunity to do so in a realistic, and unfortunately plausible, setting.

Now although I obviously didn't love this story, that doesn't discount the fact that it is an important one. I wouldn't say that this is one you should definitely skip, because although I pointed out a lot of the bad, it really wasn't awful. It was very diverse, unsurprisingly as the author is a member of We Need Diverse Books. It did do a good job of the conveying the story on the surface, I think where it failed is going beyond that story, below the surface. This is a story where there should be a lot for readers to unpack after, and during, their reading experience, but it didn't do that for me.
Profile Image for jessica.
2,555 reviews35.5k followers
February 4, 2020
where do i even begin with this? in my opinion, the biggest (but not only) problem of this book is that it takes a senseless tragedy and uses it as a ploy for people to read the book. it shows the reader that school shootings are a thing, but the news does that in real life. what we need is more than the crime itself.

if i am going to pick up a book about an individual who brings a gun to school, i want to know more than that. why did they act in this way? what are their motivations? is the shooter suffering psychologically and how can they be helped? what is their connection to those they attack? how do the students and school recover from the shooters actions? does this story condemn current gun laws and demand for stricter enforcement or possible reform? this book doesnt provide any of this additional insight.

its this information, everything beyond the senseless tragedy itself, that the reader deserves. because everyone knows school shootings are the most senseless and horrific of crimes. so why doesnt this story offer anything more? this is shallow, one-dimensional, poorly developed with forgettable characters, and does not inspire any positive action or resistance toward a growing epidemic.

1.5 stars
Profile Image for Erin Clemence.
1,108 reviews323 followers
April 24, 2017
I am at a loss for words with this novel. It literally took me three hours to read, because it was so gripping and suspenseful, I did not want to stop reading it, not even once.
(Before you ask- how can you possibly read novels on school shootings? Don’t you work in a high school? People who read about murders and murderers know there is danger in the world- it is your opinion if you want to be prepared for it and understand it (as best you can) or if you want to be surprised by it and dwell in ignorance for as long as possible. That is my opinion).
“This is Where It Ends” is the debut young adult novel by author Marieke Nijkamp. It highlights one day in the life of a public high school where students, having just finished listening to a speech by the principal, get up to leave the auditorium. Soon, students and teachers alike are scrambling- the doors are locked from the outside and everyone is trapped. Then, shots are fired and a student walks into the auditorium with a gun, demanding his peers “finally listen to him”…and the shots keep coming.
This story has a lot of characters acting as protagonists, as Nijkamp does her best to show the effect of that day on as many students as possible. Although this is initially confusing, the characters very quickly develop into real people and a relationship with the reader is formed. The chapters are short (switching from one teens’ perspective to another), which helps make this book a super quick read (another contributing factor- each short chapter ends with a gripping cliff hanger). The characters are strong and developed, and I love how Nijkamp spends a bit of time focusing on the shooter as well and the choices that brought him to the auditorium that day. The story is a non-stop, gripping thrill ride that I did not want to end.
The ending, of course, was bittersweet and not-entirely happy, but it played out as realistically as one can imagine (frighteningly). I do not have enough positive adjectives to describe my love for this book. Not since “Ninteen Minutes” (Jodi Picoult, of course), has a book on a school shooting touched me to my core. Nijkamp tells one hell of a story- a never ending thrill ride from beginning to end. I ran the gamut of emotions- from a desire to comfort the students, a paralyzing fear for them at the thought of losing their young lives, and of course both sadness and relief when the event had come to a fatal close.
A touching, paralyzing, suspenseful tale of bravery, cowardice, love and hate and how we all come together in crises to help those around us.
Profile Image for Emma Giordano.
316 reviews115k followers
February 13, 2018
This is a really hard one to review because on one hand, I think it is a fantastically written book that deserves all the praise, but on the other, it wasn't really for me and I did not enjoy it as much as I thought I would. So I'm settling in the middle with a good 4 star rating (5 for overall great writing, 3 for my personal reading experience) and hopefully I won't fail at explaining why I appreciate the genius of this book, but why it also wasn't that enjoyable for me.

Unfortunately, I believe I placed too many personal expectations on this book, thinking it would be a high-intensity suspense novel, but I got an entirely different reading experience than anticipated. My own personal hype is absolutely a huge reason as to why I don't think I enjoyed this book to it's full potential. I think, had I been more aware of the actual plot of the book as opposed to just knowing "it's about a school shooting," I probably would have been more prepared to read it with an unbiased mind.

It seemed that the majority of this story actually occurs through flashbacks (which is another personal book pet-peeve of mine), and the present plot was fairly static, in my opinion, until about 70-80% of the way through the book. The course of the story is essentially that someone starts shooting, there's multiple multiple flashbacks, a scene in the present every so often that is focused on mostly dialogue between characters, more flashbacks, and then the climax/falling action/ending. I'm in no way suggesting that this format suggests a "bad book", it's just the polar opposite of what I like to read.

The writing was also really well done. The story was very vivid, especially regarding characters. The prose was eloquent, but not distracting and absolutely fueled the story in a positive way. The book itself is really interesting to me because the entirety of the story takes place over the span of less than an hour, which is pretty unheard of for the novels I read. At points, it was difficult to keep up because you have four perspectives occurring at the same time, so it often felt like you had to rewind time a bit and replay the last few minutes for someone else to fully grasp the other point of views. It is definitely something that I feel would be hard to accomplish and although it wasn't my favorite method of storytelling, I think it came across well in the end.

I say in a lot of my reviews that I am a plot-based reader. I don't need to fall head over heels in love with characters as long as there is something big driving the story. So I prematurely imagined this book would be a really elaborate, action filled novel, when it is, in my opinion, ENTIRELY character based. If you are a character-based reader where the peak of your reading pleasure comes from complex characters with intricate back stories, please read this book . It's the book for you, I promise. The characters are really the driving action of the story. I honestly can't recall better written characters. They are all individual, unique, with clear cut past experiences, current motivations, and future hopes. There's also a great load of diversity in this novel as well, with 2 LGBT+ main characters as well as 2 Latinx main characters (one being LGBT+) and more. I will say that I personally am not emotionally invested in this particular set of characters. Again, it could be because I didn't go into this story with the intention of being attached to them, but I can completely understand why so many readers are emotional over these characters. They're flawlessly constructed, really well written, and are the types of individuals who should represent a story like this.

While plot based novels are my niche, I think the fact that this story is focused on the victims and survivors of such a tragedy was the better direction for this story. It was heartbreaking to see what these characters experienced, what they lost, and what they cannot regain. This story shows school shootings for what they are; a horrific, traumatizing experience. No character leaves this story unscathed and the images/messages that will be received from this story are the ones that deserve the spotlight. Though I was hoping for a loaded plot, I feel it would have overshadowed the real meaning of the story and shifted the focus in a negative way. But I can say with sincerity that all the decisions the author made regarding this novel were the right ones, even if it wasn't what I wanted from the book at first.

So ultimately, I don't think I enjoyed this book to my full potential, but I can still appreciate the art of it's construction! It is a book I would recommend to others, and I will definitely be reading from this author in the future.
Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,478 reviews7,773 followers
August 12, 2015
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

Here’s another book I read nearly a month ago and never reviewed. This time it wasn’t because I’m lazy even though I am, it’s because I feel bad giving this one a negative review. But a negative review is what I must give when I read a book about a “Columbine” type school shooting and . . . .

Houston commercial photography

This Is Where It Ends was easily my most anticipated YA contained in the BuzzBooks sneak preview. I requested it immediately and was thrilled to receive an advanced copy. I love books that push the envelope with respect to subject matter and I figured this was definitely not going to be stereotypical YA fare. And while it did deliver a story free of instalove and Mary Sues, it had a lot of problems.

1. Did you know Opportunity, Alabama is a real melting pot? Yeah, no one else does either. I’m all for books having a lot more diversity when it comes to characters, but don’t set it in a town where 80% of the population is white . . .

Houston commercial photography

2. Speaking of the town, it’s also small. Like under 7,000 people. Do you really think a single gunman type of school shooting would last for 54 minutes? In 2015? Where nearly every child is going to have a cell phone handy and be able to call the local po-po???

Houston commercial photography

3. Back to the characters. Diverse = good. Multiple narrators with little to no development = cardboard cutouts. Cardboard cutouts are bad – well, mostly . . .

Houston commercial photography

Speaking of cardboard cutouts, Mitchell would like this for Christmas:

Houston commercial photography

So bottom line is This Is Where It Ends was a book with a lot of potential (and a most excellent cover) that wound up being nothing special. If you want a YA book about a school shooting that is special, check out Jennifer Brown’s Hate List. I read that one back before I started reviewing, but Rose wrote a real good one : )

ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, NetGalley!
Profile Image for Marieke.
Author 53 books1,967 followers
October 10, 2015
TIWIE has a lot of things I'm very excited about, like queer girl main characters. And PoC main characters. And tragedy. And courage. And hope. And at least one wholly unintended Les Misérables reference.

I'll share more information when I can, but feel free to ask me any questions. And thank you for sharing my excitement! <3
Profile Image for Rachel  L.
1,864 reviews2,240 followers
November 3, 2016
DNF about 1/3 of the way through.

This book is just..... shallow. Superficial. Not once did I connect to a single character. They all felt like caricatures of real people instead of relatable.

I can see what the author was trying to do with the subject and having a more diverse character base, but it just didn't work.
Profile Image for Whitney Atkinson.
940 reviews14k followers
August 19, 2016
3.5 stars

This book is simply unforgetable. It's the first book I've read about a school shooting, and it was just as horrifying and jarring as you would expect. I'm very glad i'm not in high school anymore, because for the rest of my life I'm going to be a little bit startled walking into an auditorium. Sadly, I think this book's only selling point is the subject matter, however. It was gripping and tragic, but the characters, writing, and structure didn't support that very well. I liked how diverse this book was, but it was very hard to interconnect the 4 perspectives as they were described because the way this book is told is very confusing. A lot of the time I was grappling for details, not sure what was going on or who was who. The characters themselves didn't have a lot of time to be fleshed out, and by the end of this book, I didn't find myself particularly attached to them.

This book has very sensitive and violent material so I wouldn't recommend it for everyone, but it was absolutely crazy and is such a horrible reality that I think it's an important read if you can get your hands on it, even though the execution of it was shaky.
Profile Image for Mary Books and Cookies.
568 reviews407 followers
August 25, 2016
I'm numb.
I can’t even begin to describe the whirlwind that is in my head and heart after finishing this book. A complete and utter silence descended upon me the second I finished it. I was numb. I was speechless. I was heartbroken. I was angry. I was relieved that I was never forced to live a tragedy like the one described in this book.

It’s the start of a new semester at Opportunity High School in Alabama, and the entire student body is assembled in the auditorium, to listen to the start-of-semester speech from the principal. When the assembly ends, they figure out that the doors are closed and cannot be opened. Then, someone starts shooting. The story is told from the perspective of four different people, all connected to each other and to the shooter. I found it to be a very emotional and personal book, a very fast read, because once I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down. It’s a very conflicting feeling: wanting to read, but fearing what you’ll find written on the next page.

I think it’s so incredibly difficult to write about a tragedy like this. It’s very difficult to “get it right”. It’s why this is a you-either-love-it-or-hate-it book. But it hit the mark with me. I loved how it was written, I loved the characters and I think the author did a wonderful job developing them (given the fact that everything takes place in less than an hour, although we get a lot of flashbacks as well), I felt connected to them and to their story. Marieke tackles a myriad of difficult subjects and, while it would have been great for her to explore them more, I think she does them justice. The cast is diverse (POC and queer characters) and that was refreshing to see. The writing is gripping and poignant and terrifying. It transmits such an intense sense of dread to the reader, that it makes it difficult to continue reading at times. You feel how scared everyone is, how helpless and overwhelmed they are. It’s horrifying.

The thing that I loved the most, probably, is that it’s a story about the victims and the survivors. Not about the shooter. It doesn’t explore the “why did this happen” angle, because in situations like this one, we never get a straight answer. We never learn the why. Instead, it focuses on friendship and courage and love, it’s emotional and moving. Humanity permeates its pages. And there’s a tiny sliver of hope hidden in there.

Favourite quotes:

“We’re more than our mistakes. We’re more than what people expect of us.”

“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.”

“Grief is one big, gaping hole, isn’t it?“ I say quietly I don’t even know if he hears me, but my words are as much for myself as for him. "It’s everywhere and all consuming. Some days you think you can’t go on because the only thing waiting for you is more despair. Some days you don’t want to go on because it’s easier to give up than to get hurt again.”


To everyone who got this far, thank you for reading and have a wonderful day! Also, feel free to share your thoughts, comment or tell me anything :)
Profile Image for Debra .
2,415 reviews35.2k followers
June 17, 2018
Although this book is a very reverent and timely one, it fell a little flat for me. This book is told from the perspectives of four of the characters (Claire, Tomas, Sylvia, Autumn) in this book, spanning a 54-minute period after shots ring out at their school.

Even though, we are shown the characters, I do not feel as if I was given enough information so that I cared for these characters, the characters all felt flat to me. Perhaps it was the way in which the story was written. While reading this book, I wondered if it would work better as - now I am showing my age - an after-school special. Anyone remember them? I would come home from school and these shows would be on television to warn teens against bullying, teenage pregnancy, abuse, dangers of underage drinking/drug use, or showed positive things such as being a good friend, volunteering etc. I don’t know, perhaps a movie of the week or a series on Netflix would portray this book better.

Many of the scenes just felt cold to me. There was something lacking for me when I read this. For instance, toward the end of the book there was a scene (and I am paraphrasing) where a character opens a door and sees (a character I wont name) lying on the floor. It was as if they did not know each other. I would have expected more of a reaction - shock, anger, fear, sadness, etc. Perhaps, the person was supposed to be in shock and that is why there was no big reaction. Then at least tell us the character is in shock and feeling detached from what is happening in his/her surroundings. Then the scene would make perfect sense.

The Author does have a diverse group of students from varying races, religious backgrounds and has a closeted lesbian and another character who does not want to show their true self. These characters also have home issues, school issues and relationship issues they are dealing with. I just wish we were given more on each character so that I felt connected more to the characters.

Shootings, any shooting whether they take place in a school, a nightclub, a shopping center, etc. are extremely frightening and horrific. My son participated in three drills this last school year, so the students would be prepared IF a shooting took place in their school. It's scary stuff. A book about school shootings should evoke emotions and evoke fear. Unfortunately, I have not felt any of these emotions while reading. I have read various books that have gotten my heart pouncing, made me anxious, and evoked feelings of dread and apprehension. I would have thought this book would have had the same effect on me and sadly it did not.

My review most likely makes it sound as if I didn't like this book. I just had higher expectations given the subject matter. There were good parts of this book and I appreciated the diverseness of the characters, I just felt it was lacking in character development, and wanted more.
Profile Image for Avery (Taylor's version).
216 reviews441 followers
March 1, 2023
“We're more than our mistakes. We're more than what people expect of us.”

So it took me quite awhile to get to writing this review because I've just been feeling so uninspired lately- like I feel like my reviews are just the same thing over and over again just with different characters and I'm just so unoriginal and not creative with wording and all that, but here I finally am.

School shootings terrify me so this was definitely an experience to read. I read this book VERY fast, in like 3-4 hours (would've been shorter if I hadn't been interrupted) because it was honestly unputdownable (this isn't a word but I'm making it one).

“I didn't need to die for him to kill me.”

I liked that the book didn't take a while to build up the plot. The pacing was really fast, which is one reason why I read through this so fast. I was honestly also terrified the entire book because the shooter was just so unpredictable and I didn't know what was going to happen.

I enjoyed all of the multiple POVs of the characters, who were scattered all throughout the school. My favorite POVs were either Autumn, who gave us an inside look as to what was happening inside, or Claire, who gave us the look of what it was like outside.

One thing I wish that could have been different was the reason behind why Tyler did what he did. It just seemed that it was because he hated the school and all that but he just seemed like the villain who had no backstory and just decided to do it for some reason.

“I never realized that courage was so terrifying.”

I feel like the characters were all fine. The book went by so fast that I didn't really get to make any emotional connections with them, but I liked them enough to cry, so that's saying something.

Claire was probably my favorite, I don't know why since I didn't really, as I said "get to make an emotional connection with her," but I don't know, I just liked her POVs.

I did also like Sylv and Autumn and their relationship, and I'm happy for them.

And this is what I was talking about, I've got literally nothing else to say and these just feel like carbon copy examples of stuff I've said in other reviews 😐

I can't imagine what these characters had to go through, and I hope I never have to.

“Together we could be so strong, but the gun has made us individuals.”

Overall, I did really enjoy this book. There were a few things I would personally change, like learning more about Tyler's reasoning and backstory, and also the short chapters and super fast pacing (not that I'm really complaining about the fast pacing, I loved that part), but it definitely was an impactful and moving read.

4 stars

“Everyone has a reason to fear the boy with the gun.”

Notes before review is written: school shootings were and still are one of my worst fears and this book definitely shook me. I flew through the pages, and it was extremely fast paced, which I greatly appreciated. This certainly was an emotional book, and while I did have a few issues with it, I actually really enjoyed it. I think my favorite POVs were Claire and Autumn's.

detailed rtc (at some point)
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,535 reviews9,942 followers
September 11, 2016

It took me awhile to decide how to rate this book. I didn't connect with all of the characters but I still enjoyed the story. Although, in this case, I'm not sure enjoy is the right word.

The story is told through several different POV. They were friends, brothers and sisters all living in Opportunity, AL going to Opportunity High School. And they all had one very, very bad day!

The story starts out with the shooter almost right off the bat. There are a few little things going on with the POV's talking about what they are doing at the moment, the moment before it all goes downhill.

We learn a few things about the different kids through their thoughts of things that happened in the past. But even still this book didn't grab me like I thought it would. I thought I would love it! I gave it three stars because I could feel the terror everyone went through and I felt really bad for everyone going through what happened. I really can't explain what it was that didn't make this a 5 star book for me. I'm just going to leave to the non connection I had to anyone in the story. I still think the author did a great job in creating a very horrific situation, if your just concentrating on that event.

I'm so happy for those that could love it and for the many more that will love it as well. And I'm glad I liked it just enough =)

MY BLOG: Melissa Martin's Reading List
Profile Image for BernLuvsBooks .
828 reviews4,706 followers
February 16, 2019
I wasn't sure how I wanted to rate this book. For such a strong, emotional topic - the book was very shallow in my opinion. It lacked depth and I had a hard time connecting to the characters.

With my own community suffering through a devastating school shooting it just seemed like there was so much more that could have been done in this book. Simply, put it was disappointing. In a time when this is unfortunately a very real issue - this book seemed to trivialize. There was just no depth to it for me.
Profile Image for Sue.
781 reviews1,590 followers
October 25, 2015
This is going to be a controversial book.

A teenager with a gun, shoots up a school filled with students.

A terrorist.

 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 was initially skeptical of the premise of This Is Where It Ends, books with multiple POVs usually doesn’t work well for me. Like I always say incorporating a handful of POVs is tricky. The author is juggling too many plates, some characters will not get their appropriate growth. The transition is awkward, there is no distinction between the voices. But for this story’s case it suited perfectly. The fluidity of the plot and the character’s tone is so authentic.

This book is so delicate. I fear if I keep talking I’ll blurt out random spoilers. Trust me, this is the kind of story you should start with a blindfold. So instead, ill bullet proof the selling points.

This book also captures how diverse the world we live in. We have:

• PoC main characters
• Disabled characters
• Lesbian characters

This is Where it Ends is dark and rough around the edges. Full review to come closer to the release date.
Profile Image for Sue.
2,729 reviews219 followers
May 10, 2018
This is definitely not a book for everyone.

Its a subject matter that is 'real' and will effect you emotionally due to children being shot and killed.

I knew I would have to put on my big girl panties to read this, which I did, however it still it was poignant, heartbreaking and sometimes came over as cold.

There were many POV to this story and each portrayed what they saw or experienced with many social media activities going on.
Its just that there was something that bothered me, that was the lack of warmth in some of the children who were dead, the reporting of this was sometimes cold hearted, maybe the author didn't intend that, but it did come across to me like that at times as I was quite invested within the pages.

Nontheless, this was a book I have been trying to reach to read and I am glad I did.

Thank you SOURCEBOOKS Fire via Net GALLEY for my copy
Profile Image for Cora Tea Party Princess.
1,323 reviews806 followers
January 3, 2019
5 Words: Not my cup of tea.

I had really been looking forward to this one. There was so much hype, I was seeing it everywhere, I'd heard good things...


I knew it wasn't looking so good when I was ready to DNF by the second chapter. Up until then it was just dull and confusing. But then it picked up a little, started to get more interesting... And quickly trailed back to just dull and confusing.

I found the characters to be pretty one-dimensional. I couldn't even tell them apart, never mind connect with any of them.

It felt like there was a lot of telling, very little showing and a one-voice-fits-all cast of characters. It was such a shame.

I received a copy of this for free via NetGalley for review purposes.
Profile Image for Victoria Pewitt.
43 reviews665 followers
August 24, 2021
I read the whole thing in like 3 hours. I get why every English teacher loves this book so much now but omg was it heartbreaking.
Profile Image for Kaye.
214 reviews430 followers
June 3, 2015
[This review is not final. Quotes removed for reposting here, but you can find them in my blog post.]

My knee-jerk, first things first thought on closing This Is Where It Ends could be summed up in three words.

"I'm not okay."

And that, I think, is okay. Because this is a book that ends on a note that you should absolutely, 100% not be okay with.

This Is Where It Ends is deeply, darkly visceral and gripping. It takes you by the throat and tugs you downward into emotional compromise and utter panic. It all too realistically portrays every parent or guardian's nightmare and the event that every student cannot imagine occurring on their campus, to their friends, in their lifetime.

In the span of 54 minutes - just 54 - every student and faculty member present in the auditorium of Opportunity High School, Alabama, is fighting for their lives against one boy, one of their own. Only now, instead of being their brother or classmate or ex-boyfriend...

He's the boy with the gun.

I mean, the summary alone should tell you what's coming. I'm not sure how I still was so detached from what was coming at the very beginning, but Marieke makes sure to acclimate you to the assembled cast. They are ordinary, wonderfully diverse American teens. They are bored by the principal's default sermon to usher in the new semester, worried about younger siblings or fraying relationships or trouble at home.

They are all expecting to stand up, gather their belongings and file off to their relevant classrooms.

And that's what starts to drive this home, as things go from bad to...I don't know, is there something past utterly wrong and tormenting? What frightens us about a school shooting is that it can happen anywhere. On my campus, we talk in orientation about what we should do, where we should go, who we should listen to. We're introduced to the emergency phones, the fire escapes, the concept of being calm, quiet and orderly no matter what catastrophe has us in its clutches.

But there's a difference between hearing about that and being thrust headlong into it.

And, though everyone in This Is Where It Ends reacts differently, I had to tear up and press my fist to my mouth for all of them. Because you never know how you will react. You never know what action may be the last you take on - even if it's something that will make you a hero.

The narrative is beautiful, equalizing and real. I gave a particularly watery smile in a moment where Tomas and Fareed, best friends and brothers no matter what - in a situation where it truly, deeply counts and cuts into you - are doing their best to rescue their classmates, friends and siblings.

Even in that moment, waiting for some sort of outside help and trying to form a solid strategy, Tomas spares a thought for Fareed and how, with his Afghani heritage, accent and Muslim faith, he may seem a threat to the police officers rather than a hero.

You know me. Even when my heart is in my throat and I'm turning pages as fast as I can without cutting myself, I've got that eye for Muslim representation.

I found myself getting very reluctantly attached to all the teens, but Fareed in particular had me closing my eyes and telepathically wiring messages to Marieke's brain: Marieke, I love you. You wouldn't do this to me, right? ...Right?

(For all the scientifically minded, the fact that Marieke has shown no sign of receiving said messages concludes that we have yet to break the telepathic barrier.

Or maybe it's just me and you should get a better test subject.

Anyway - and avert your eyes, because this may or may not be a spoiler! - [spoiler]she didn't do it to me.[/spoiler] She's evil. But not that evil.)

I think the thing that hit me the hardest about This Is Where It Ends is that skillful blend of tragedy and hope, darkness and light. Some of it felt a little strange to me - a first kiss in the middle of worrying over a wounded, potentially dying sibling, for instance - but I'm holding off on the judgey side because, again, who the heck knows what they'd do in a particular situation when they don't know what else is going to happen?

I certainly don't. And I have plenty of witnesses that can confirm that I don't claim to know everything. Okay? Okay.

But, overall...the ending. It just catches in your throat. Nothing is going to be okay. I started the preview off on that note. I'm telling you right now, guys. Nothing is going to be okay.

Newtown happened. The Aurora shooting happened. Columbine happened. Everyday, there's something vicious and violent that bites down into our world and rips families and friends and loved ones apart, leaving us to grieve with no proper answers and no promise that we'd ever feel whole or healed again.

It's not okay. It's never okay. But one way or another, we will never forget. And we will never lose hope.
Profile Image for jv poore.
616 reviews211 followers
February 15, 2018
Heart-wrenching, soul-crushing, beautiful, and inspiring.

If I could, I would give a copy of this book to every single high school student, high school teacher and all the parents of high-school students.

Grab a box of tissues and block out a few hours; once you start reading, you will not stop until the very end.
Profile Image for ❤️ Book Diva ❤️.
15 reviews32 followers
January 10, 2018
Although I did find the book very good, I found that the ending ended very quickly. Without giving anything away, it was a book that was hard to put down and an exciting read where you wanted to know "What's going to happen next!"
Profile Image for Jen Ryland.
1,549 reviews912 followers
January 20, 2018
I read dark-themed realistic fiction for the emotional punch it packs, and in that regard this book fell short for me. My biggest problems with the book were narrative choices that prevented me from getting to know and care about the book's characters/potential victims.

In the interest of full disclosure, I'm not generally a fan of more than two first person POVs and I struggled to keep all the characters straight. There were four different alternating first person narrators. All of these characters had similar narrative voices (except the one who sprinkled in some Spanish) and all had friends and siblings and love interests and ex-love interests and all of the relationships stayed pretty jumbled in my mind. Every narrative choice made by an author has its pros and cons. I can understand the decision behind this POV choice -- during the incident, some of the characters are in different locations within the school -- but to me all the POV switching was distracting and confusing. I know I'm not really connecting with characters when I start giving them shorthand labels to keep them straight in my mind (runner, dancer, dancer's girlfriend, runner's boyfriend, boy on crutches) and I never really understand much more about them than that.

I also had some issues with the fact that this book was narrated in real time ... except when it wasn't. Real-time narration can be very gripping (it's why I loved the show 24) and might seem a natural choice for a book like this, except that it typically results in a story that's all adrenaline and action. The book did incorporate some flashbacks, reflection, etc. but I thought those threw the real-time pacing off. I thought there was another downside to the fact that book takes place over the span of less than an hour and that the reader is constantly reminded how many minutes have elapsed. Every page or two, I kept thinking: where the &%$@ are the police? The shooting starts at 10:05. A full twenty minutes later, the SWAT team is in the parking lot "setting up"(?!?) and ten minutes after that they still haven't gone in. While we haven't made much progress in the US in preventing mass shootings, maybe we've learned something about how to react to them. Just a cursory Google search reveals that at Columbine in 1999, police waited outside for 45 minutes until a SWAT team arrived but that in the years since, American police changed their active shooter protocols to immediately send a team in to stop the shooter at all costs. I'm by no means an expert on any of this, but thinking about it as I read was distracting.

I know that senseless tragedies are easier to describe than explain, but again, I want fiction that delves a little deeper. I think that, given the POV choice, the shooter might have been included as one of the narrators so we'd get to know a little more about him and his motivations, which ended up seeming pretty cookie-cutter. The end of the book featured a quick conversation between characters: ("Could we have stopped him?") and another half-paragraph of some hand-wringing ("How could it happen here? Why couldn't we stop it?") But to me that felt just thrown in and the shooter came off as a cartoonish villain.

In the end, while this book definitely had its gripping moments, I was hoping for more -- a deeper connection with these characters and a story with moral, psychological, and emotional complexity.

Read more of my reviews on YA Romantics or follow me on Bloglovin

Thanks to the publisher for providing an advance copy for review!
Profile Image for Stacey.
881 reviews161 followers
January 3, 2018
I love, love, love this cover! Every time I see it I have to pause and look at it.

School shootings, unfortunately, have become all too familiar. A little piece of my heart breaks off each time I hear about another one. This is a good moment by moment account told by four narrators. The relationship between the shooter and his sister was especially good and suspenseful.

Thank you Marieke Nijkamp for taking on a harrowing subject. It will resonate with the YA audience.
Profile Image for Jenna.
277 reviews77 followers
August 29, 2017
5/5 STARS!!!

What it is about!
This book is a take on real-life school shootings. It follows different point of views of students, an alumni, texts and even twitter while it moves through the short period it takes to have such a traumatic event. This book is gut wrenching and raw and I doubt you will finish reading it without a few tears.

My Review:
This book is a very fast-read because you just cannot put it down. You need to know what happens next and who survives. It is a light read and can lack description but that adds to the book as we hop through POV's and move forward through the shooting. I read this late into the night and suffered through many different emotions this book entails. I loved the smaller characters that don't have POV's, we got to see them through the eyes of multiple people and with each view, they were still suffering. THERE IS A WHOLE LOT OF SUFFERING AND SADNESS!!!
I cried so much at the end of this book but also throughout. School-shootings are an absolute tragedy and horrific events already, but through reading this it makes me an infinite times more devastated and awestruck at the violence and death/injuries. I recommend this book to virtually anyone because it makes you think and reflect upon your own life and will potentially give you a new perspective!
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