Saturday, August 8, 2015

Quick Pick: This is Where It Ends, by Marieke Nijkamp

  • Opening lines: The starter gun shatters the silence, releasing the runners from their blocks.

    Track season starts in a couple of weeks, but no one has told Coach Lindt about winter. He's convinced the only way to get us into shape is to practice - even when my breath freezes right in front of me.

    This is Opportunity, Alabama. Sane people don't leave their homes when it's white and frosty outside. We stock up on canned food, drink hot chocolate until we succumb to sugar comas, and pray to be saved from the cold.
  • Reason I picked up the book: The title of the book and the description pulled me in. I've read books about school shootings before - specifically, The Life Before Her Eyes (Laura Kasischke, one of my college professors), which was made into a movie with Uma Thurman, and Nineteen Minutes (Jodi Picoult) - and they always interest me; there's always so many characters with different motivations.
  • And what's this book about?
  • 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.

    This explosive, emotional, page-turning debut about a high school held hostage is told from the perspective of four teens—each with their own reason to fear the boy with the gun.
  • Favorite paragraph:
    I freeze. I can't go any closer, no matter how much it's the right thing to do. I swallow. "Why, Tyler?"

    With his pale eyes trained on me, he steps closer, and everyone who gets as close to him as I am will be able to see the same thing. His gaze is devoid of emotion - humanity. He reaches out, grabs a fistful of my hair, and pulls me onto the stage. "Why couldn't you have listened to me?" he says, so only I can hear.

    I falter, but Tyler doesn't seem to care. "You think you are so special, don't you?" he snarls. "Do you even care about anyone anymore? Your family? Your oh-so-special girlfriend? Or do you only care about yourself?" He points the gun at my leg.

    "Please don't." My cheeks burn so hot, they vaporize my tears. But I pull myself together and stare back at him.

    "I love you," I whisper.

    And then he smiles. His eyes twinkle, and he is the Ty I know.

    And it breaks me.
  • Recommended for: Anyone who likes a good read, but who also isn't sensitive to losing favorite characters, if that makes sense. 
  • Something to know: There are five main narrators in this novel: Tomas; Syl (Sylvia, who is Tomas's sister); Autumn (sister of Tyler, the shooter, and Syl's girlfriend); Claire, who is running with the track team when the shooting starts; and Mei, a teen blogger whose father is a teacher at the school. 
  • What I would have changed: We learn a lot about the central narrators but I would have liked to have known more about them, even, and also more about the shooter, Tyler - or even a few chapters from his POV would have been interesting. I also enjoyed there being five different narrators but thought Mei's story could have been dropped; maybe it was just me, but I was unable to figure out who her father was in the story, though we know he's a teacher at this school. Also: I started and finished this book in one day, which is a testament to how good it is; I started it during my work lunch break and finished it at home later that day.
  • Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars.
  • Where can I find this book? Click here to pre-order - this novel is out on January 6, 2016.

    *Disclosure: I received an e-copy of this novel via NetGalley for reviewing purposes. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

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