This Is Where It Ends - Marieke Nijkamp
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.
this is where it ends
YA, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Thriller, LGBT, Suspense
‘this is where it ends’ is a YA novel written by Marieke Nijkamp. It’s a story told from the perspectives of four different terrified characters, each with their unique connection to the events unfolding. In some parts of the book, there are flashbacks from the various protagonists to show what events happened before that led to this catastrophe. The scenes are all told across the span of 54 tantalizing minutes, in a small-scale high school in a small town where a shooter traps the students and starts to massacre them. Raw and tender emotions course through the pages of this novel and the depiction of the shooting is written so authentically. The plot is set at a very good pace and quite eye-catching to people across the US who struggle with very similar situations. The action is lethal which builds anxiety and a thrill in your stomach as you read and wait to see what the result is going to be.
The book had a likable range of characters, the diversity of it all was nice to read, and there were lots of representations of different races and sexualities which is something that lacks in YA books sometimes so I liked that component. The setting was also genuinely realistic, the high school was portrayed in a very natural way, showing the diverse students and the individualistic student body. Another thing I enjoyed in this book was how the characters were shown honestly and truly, they displayed numerous emotions that any average high schooler would during a situation such as this. Marieke did an incredible job of illustrating the characters in a way where they exhibited bravery along with rational thinking. None of the characters ever seemed otherworldly or immature, they were all trying to save and be saved but at the same time understanding the consequences of messing up. Through her writing, I felt as though I was one of the students, I was able to put myself in a situation like theirs and relate to their decisions. And in my opinion, being able to immerse yourself in a book like such is truly an important aspect of reading any story, it shows the author’s skill as well as how interesting the plot is.
“I never realized that courage was so terrifying.” ~ Marieke Nijkamp, this is where it ends
The antagonist in this story was also written with a considerable amount of depth. I was able to understand is intentions of his actions. There is also an explanation in the book of the signs the villain displayed which made him how he is. There wasn’t much emphasis on his backstory, which I understand because, at the end of the day, these circumstances are about the victims and their loved ones, it’s not entirely about who and how it's about what we can do as a community do to help solve and prevent these types of circumstances.
Some cons of this book are how it’s narrated. Sometimes it’s difficult to understand the difference between all the voices. The dialogue was also occasionally unnatural. Another problem I faced while reading this book was the diversity factor. Are there characters from different backgrounds? Yes. Are they developed, and is there much backstory about them? No. It seemed as though Marieke was trying to have a wide variety of characters but failed to apply that under the surface, which led to the character being underdeveloped. The time was also a problem, since the whole book is told over 54 minutes, we haven’t really described the aftermath of all of this, or how the characters chose to reflect. Also, I felt as if the story was all just a schedule of events and an explicit display of the shooting. The characters weren’t bonding, not much emotion, which made it difficult to be able to connect to them. And lastly, even though I said the antagonist had some level of depth, he was mostly like a villain straight out of a movie. Every so often we would get a flashback about his background which barely gave an explanation, which is something I didn’t like.
Plot and Themes:
Comprehensive, ‘this is where it ends’ is a great book if you are looking for a nail-biter that keeps you on your toes. It’s brutal, scary, and makes your heart race with every flip of a page.