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 is a dark YA about a shooting that takes place in a school in Alabama. The book is told from the perspectives of four students of Opportunity High School—Claire, Autumn, Sylvia & Tomás. Each of them are at different parts of the school when the shooting begins, and it adds a very clear, 360° view of the atmosphere around the school. Each student is also struggling with something or the other at the time of the incident, and that adds another layer of depth to them, because all of them are connected to the shooter in one way or another.
Unfortunately, there were some things, undeniably large things, that took away from my experience of reading this book. First of all, the portrayal of each character’s voice—in all honesty, it took me several tries to get all their names and voices right. There were four POVs, like I mentioned earlier, and the switch between them happened often, sometimes in the middle of a thought or a conversation. Somehow, that did not work for me too well, considering a book like this should first and foremost help me connect with the all the people in it. All four of them started to sound the same, and they had nothing to separate them from each other. I easily lost focus and zoned in and out while reading the book, partly because the musings of certain characters, their flashbacks, etc, were rather boring.
While I appreciated the diverse characters—both by colour and by sexual preference—I didn’t quite feel for them. They were more formulaic and I didn’t quite agree with the way they were portrayed. The narrative did a piss poor job of showing the POC in this book as actual people—they felt merely like a part of a checklist that was followed to show some diversity. Basically, they were more by-the-book formulas than actual people, and there were more clichés around them that I can tolerate.
With the shooter—and the shooting—is where the book actually made me lose any and all interest in it. The shooter is shown blandly as a person out for revenge and nothing more. He was almost robotic in the way he went about doing what he did, and I couldn’t see any humanity in him. I’d like to have seen his frame of mind, his emotions, his reasons, him, but what I really got to see was a cheap portrayal of a cardboard villain. And of course, since all the four characters had something or the other to do with him, I did also see the shooter back when he was a “good guy.” Honestly, I think I would have preferred if I hadn’t seen that side of him at all. The guy just jumped from one to a hundred QUICK, and I would’ve preferred to see the hundred without even a hint of the one.
I wish more time was spent dealing with the issues I’ve underline above, but I’d also have liked to see each character in the book be their own person. I am hugely disappointed with both the writing, and the subject-matter being used merely as a plot device. Many situations in the book were hella convenient, with certain people being at the right place at the right time. Unfortunately, real life doesn’t quite work that way, and that’s something that should have been kept as elementary knowledge while writing this book. Shootings in schools is a real, terrifying problem, and with something as sensitive as this, I think I’m going to throw caution to the wind and really do my research before picking up a book like this again.