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January 7, 2016

J + A Review: This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

Title: This Is Where It Ends
Author: Marieke Nijkamp
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication date: January 5, 2016
Genre(s): Young Adult, Contemporary
Source: ARC (Audris), early library copy (Jacquelyn)
Pages: 292

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.
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 tells the story of a high school shooting unfolding minute by minute. There are several unique aspects about this book, the first one being that the whole book takes place within the time span of 54 minutes. The second unique part about it is that's it's told from multiple points of view. While that made it different, it also made it difficult to keep up with all of the characters. I found myself having to go back and reread certain parts or having to pause and think of about who was who.

Technically it's only four perspectives but it feels like a lot more, which might be because we also have all of the important people in the lives of these four main characters to remember. Also, at the end of every chapter there are different media formats that tie into the story. For example, text message conversations, tweets, DMs, and blog posts/comments. I usually love mixed formats, but this added even more characters to keep track of. It made this short novel a little more difficult to enjoy and a bit confusing.

On the other hand, these different formats seemed to add to the story because later on when those side characters were mentioned it felt like I was more attached to them than I would have been if I hadn't had that small prior snippet into their lives. Of course, this also means that I had my heart ripped out and stomped on several times within this very short book, but that's just a small price to pay for reading this fantastic story. The format definitely had its pros and cons.

Other than that, this was absolutely heart shattering. It's a book you'll want to read in one sitting because the way it's told in 54 minutes will feel like you are in the story experiencing everything first hand. If you wait and read it during the span of several days I don't think it will be as enjoyable or as addicting. The more you read at once, the more attached you get to these characters. The story goes from okay to omgwhatisgoingon. As the story progressed my stress level kept getting higher and higher until I couldn't sit still. Jacquelyn and I were reading this one together and we kept messaging each other with "OMG" and "WHAT IS HAPPENING". Everything gets more intense and you get more attached to each character as the story goes on. If you're planning on picking this one up make sure it's at a point in your life where you are ready to sit down and mourn for a while. DON'T READ THIS EXPECTING EVERYTHING TO BE OKAY.

There were moments when I was so angry with the decisions some of the characters were making. I just wanted everyone to be safely tucked into their beds. But they're not easy decisions for them to make and I can see what they were thinking when they made them. I will read anything that Marieke Nijkamp writes. Here, just take my heart already.

This is Where it Ends is a diverse read so if you're looking to read more diverse books this year, as I'm sure many of you are, then I would suggest picking it up. It's a quick read with a powerful cast and an important story to tell.

After reading Audris' thoughts, I don't have too much to add. I feel like Audris sums up this book so well and we had about the same opinion on it. It was so much fun to text each other as we read. We stayed up pretty late and we were glued to the pages.

I was so excited when I got the email from my library saying that this was available for pickup. I knew that it wasn't coming out until 2016 and my library usually never releases books before their publication date. I read it right away and I am so glad I did. I've already recommended it to people asking for January 2016 publications. I thought that it was just such a compelling read that had me on the edge of my seat the entire time while reading. I felt so emotionally connected to the story and the characters and even when I finished with it, I was still thinking about the characters and everything that had gone down.

This Is Where It Ends deals with a very serious topic so I definitely don't think it is for everyone but if you are really into dark and deep contemporaries, definitely pick this one up. It's also a very diverse read (as Audris had mentioned) which I really enjoyed. The only thing I really had an issue with was the keeping up of characters. I read the first 80 pages over the span of two or so days and I would read a chapter or two at a time. I couldn't really decipher one voice from another (I could later on) and I was having difficulty deciphering how they were related to other characters in the book. I read the last 200 pages in one sitting which really helped with that. I didn't have to stop and think who was who and the whole book and pacing moved a lot quicker from then on. I definitely think that this should be a book read in one sitting, if possible.

One thing I found to be super interesting and compelling about this book was that it took place over a span of 54 minutes. By the book being taken place over such a short amount of time, it created a very real vibe and I really enjoyed that. I sometimes have difficulties with connecting and feeling for the characters in books that take place over weeks and even months so being able to really "know" and feel for this characters after 54 minutes is saying something about Marieke's talent. I am definitely going to be keeping my eye out for any upcoming releases by Marieke Nijkamp and I think everyone should be. Such a powerful debut that should reach the hands of many.

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