Published by Sourcebooks Fire on January 5th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Social Issues, Young Adult
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.
10:03 The auditorium doors won't open.
10:05 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.
When I read it…
I read this book from start to finish on January 5th 2016.
What I’d heard before I read it:
Mixed things: mostly I’d heard a lot of raving and positive reviews, but I had also heard a few negative reviews, mostly regarding the shooter’s motivations.
What worked for me:
- The pace: I found this fast-moving, gripping and easy to get engrossed in
- The links between characters: I’m a big fan of storylines that tie in with other characters, such as often appears in Liane Moriarty and Nora Roberts’ books, so I enjoyed seeing the way the characters interlinked.
- The diversity: I loved that there was lots of diversity, and that I didn’t feel like the book was defined by it. It’s a story that feels like it just happens to feature LGBT teens, teens from different backgrounds etc, because that’s what reflects real life. It was diverse without making a big deal of it and that was something I really loved!
What didn’t quite work for me:
- The depth/length: the fact that This Is Where It Ends is so short means it can keep up the constant fast pace, but for me, I wouldn’t have minded having a longer story if it meant we got to delve into some of the backstories a bit further. I liked what we got to see but I definitely wouldn’t have minded seeing more.
- The lack of grey: there were clear ‘bad’ guys and ‘good’ guys in this, which is something I didn’t like. With such a realistic and timely issue, with a cast that aims to reflect real world diversity, the fact that there wasn’t more ambiguity or blurring of the lines between good and bad disappointed me. (“The world isn’t split into good people and Death Eaters”!)
- The ‘issues’: while I loved that the diversity felt natural and not like marketing, some of the issues felt like they’d been squeezed in. There were some serious issues, but I felt like they weren’t handled with the gravity they deserved.
This Is Where It Ends is not actually the first story about school shootings I’ve read and it’s difficult not to compare. While I really enjoyed This Is Where It Ends, it unfortunately didn’t live up to either Jodi Picoult’s 19 minutes – which I felt gave a much better portrayal of the shooter and motivations, or Heather Gudenkauf’s One Breath Away, which I felt brilliantly showed the impact outside the school as well as within. For me, I’d have loved This Is Where it Ends to be longer – I’d have loved to see more of Fareed in particular, or more of the motivation behind the shooting, or more of the impact some of the issues the characters were facing. All in all, it was gripping, but it didn’t have the emotional impact I was expecting.