This is one of those books I picked up at Book Expo a couple of years ago and it fell in the cracks of my TBR pile. I love me some crime, so Marieke Nijkamp's This is Where It Ends seemed right up my alley.
It's the first day back to school after winter break, and the students of Opportunity Hugh School are in their annual assembly hearing the same speech from their principal they hear every year. When it ends, students go to leave -- but they can't get out. The doors are locked. In the confusion, Tyler walks in with a gun and begins to slaughter his classmates. 54 minutes later, the nightmare is over.
The best thing I can say about this book is how disappointed I was in it. I was hoping for a nuanced look at what happens in a school shooting, with some compassion for the victims. Instead, I was incredibly turned off by the graphic and gratuitous violence Nijkamp portrayed. I get it -- it's the reality of this kind of situation. But it felt gory for the sake of shock value, and I wasn't shocked so much as disgusted at the lack of respect for victims of this type of tragedy.
I found some of the characters to be interesting, if a bit contrived. I found parts of the story to be of interest as well. I was, however, completely turned off my the ending. The night if the shooting, after many students get out successfully, they all hold a vigil at the school. That's slightly unrealistic, as the author seems to have no grasp of shock or the aftermath of violent crime, but it's in the speeches given that my mind was blown. The students come together for their lost siblings and friends, hold hands, and promise that this is where it ends. The hate and the unhappiness. Are you serious? Having just gone through an enormous trauma where dozens of murders were witnessed first-hand, you really think these kids are coming together hours later and holding a rally where they smile at each other? I feel that the author could have used a psychologist on hand to talk about trauma.
I'm just grateful that this book was on the short side.