January 5, 2016
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10:00 a.m.This is Where it Ends is told from four points of view: Autumn, Claire, Sylv and Tomas. Each of them is somehow connected to the others and also connected to the gunman. Whether it is their relationship - past or ongoing - with him that connects them, their own friendship or familial ties, there is something more that connecting them to the situation.
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.
As those fifty-four minutes pass for the students - our narrators and others - there is, of course, the fear, horror and uncertainty, but we also build a deeper connection with the characters through their narrations. We learn not only who they are - or were - to each other, but about the good moments and the bad, what made (or makes) their relationships special. We see how much they care for others that are in danger, some that they can help, some that it seems an impossibility.
We also learn how it is they are connected to the young man who came into the auditorium with a gun.
I thought that the way the characters lives had intersected in the past, the relationships they currently had, and how everything played on and impacted everything else was very nicely done. It allows readers to get a fuller picture of the characters and who they are (outside of that auditorium on that morning) while not every pulling you away from that tense, anxious, horrific, dangerous situation.
There is, understandably, a lot of violence and, even, death in This Is Where it Ends and it surprised me how effective the almost matter-of-factness of it worked. People get shot. People die. It is there, it is graphic, it is horrifying and heartbreaking. Yet, somehow, how it happens without a always a lot of lead-in or follow-up, made it more real.
One seemingly smaller part of the novel that I really appreciated was the inclusion of texts, tweets and blog posts. It was only at the end of chapters, but it managed to bring the outside world in a bit, to show us how those removed from the situation were reacting. It was a very current, nice touch.
I do wish there had been a slight bit more about Sylv's mother and what her illness was. I definitely have guesses but I got slightly distracted thinking about it since it was never stated.(or I don't believe so).
digital review copy received, thanks to publisher, via NetGalley