This Is Where It EndsAuthor: Marieke Nijkamp
Genre: YA Contemporary
ARC Source: Publisher via Netgalley
Expected Publication: January 5th 2016 by Sourcebooks Fire
Pre-order from: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble
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.10:03The auditorium doors won't open.10:05Someone 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.
*I received an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to Sourcebooks Fire and Netgalley.*
Sometimes you read a book so heartbreaking that days after you read it, you are still reeling from the deluge of emotions that the book has brought upon you. Sometimes you don't want to even think about it anymore because FEELS! This Is Where It Ends is one of those books. This is not an easy read, and this is not an easy review to write.
First off, I love the diversity of the characters. You get LGBT characters, POCs, and characters with disabilities. (As expected from DiversifYA's founder and We Need Diverse Books' senior VP.) I've always thought having multiple POVs is a huge risk on the part of the author. But in this book, it's quite fitting because we get to see a tragic situation from different perspectives.
And dude, was it tragic. I felt deeply for the characters, I wanted to give them all big hugs and chocolates. I loved being inside their heads – Claire, Autumn, Sylv, Tomás. Each has a story to tell and they're all important stories. And Tomás! Dude, you broke my heart into pieces. Why, Marieke? WHYYYYY????!!!
As much as I wanted to know Tyler's story – what made him snap? what triggered him to bring a gun to school and shoot people? – I've accepted that that is not the path that TIWIE wanted to take. Marieke Nijkamp wrote in her website that "The story isn’t about the technicalities of a shooting; it’s about four teens in a harrowing situation whose world is being turned upside down." With that context in mind, I think the author succeeded in telling the story that she wanted to tell.
The inclusion of tweets, text messages and blog posts was a nice touch too, as it tells us that this happens. Now. And in this day of internet and modern technology, one word could tell a lot.
The writing is also beautiful. The words punched hard, and there were times when I had to stop reading because I had to breathe. Well-written and eloquent, it has a poignancy that perfectly fits the mood of the story.
School shootings in America have always been a distant thing to me. It's something I only see on news. I am not unaffected, but I also can't wrap my head around the idea of someone, especially a student, bringing a gun to school and just randomly shooting people. Don't get me wrong. I do not live in a sheltered environment. I've witnessed my own fair share of violence. But this is SCHOOL. This should be a safe place, right?
This Is Where It Ends is brutal and gritty and painful, yes, and Marieke Nijkamp definitely did not hold back. But despite of its tragedy, TIWIE is hopeful. This is a story of survivors. This is a story of heroes that emerge in the most trying and unexpected situations. This book shattered my heart, stomped on the pieces and put it back together again. I couldn't express my love enough, but YOU HAVE TO WATCH OUT FOR THIS BOOK IN JANUARY 2016. YOU WOULDN'T WANT TO MISS THIS BOOK.
Please note that these quotes came from an ARC and should be checked against the final copy.
So we run. Not just in circles around the track. We run towards all that is waiting for us. We run together, while we still can.
Terror is our strongest force, because we're only afraid when we have something to lose – our lives, our loves... our dignity.
It's easier to know who I'm not, than to know who I am. When everyone expects me to fail, it's easier to give up than to try.
"Grief is one big gaping hole, isn't it?" I say quietly. I don't even know if he hears me, but my words are as much for myself as for him. "It's everywhere and all consuming. Some days you think you can't go on because the only thing waiting for you is more despair. Some days you don't want to go on because it's easier to give up than to get hurt again."
"I love that the sky is endless," he said. "If I can't go to space, I want to study the stars. Do you know the light we see really means we're looking back in history?"
"Does that mean we're in the future?" Trace laughed.
"No. We're at exactly the right place, at exactly the right time."
"I'm running with the wind," he'd say. "And no one will ever catch me. Not even death."
Death brings life; life brings death. There are no words in that fleeting moment between hope and the knowledge. There is no way to express how a heart can burst and break at the same time, how the sun can cut through the darkness but will cast shadows everywhere.
"You can't always keep your loved ones with you. You can't always settle your life in one place. The world was made to change. But as long as you cherish the memories and make new ones along on the way, no matter where you are, you'll always be at home."
"The world is against us. You need to understand that before it kills you."
Dad always told me there are more stories in the universe than stars in the sky. And in every story, there's the light of hope. That's why the seniors sent lanterns up to the sky– to make sure the darkness is never absolute.
"We are not better because we survived. We are not better or more deserving. We are not stronger. But we are here. We are here, and this day will never leave us. Nor should it. We will remember the wounded. We will remember the lost."
"We will remember the thirty-nine tonight. We will remember them tomorrow. We will remember them for all our tomorrows. And there will be many tomorrows; there'll be thousands of them. So let's make them good ones. We are Opportunity, and we will not be afraid. We are Opportunity, and we will live."