This is Where it Ends follows four kids on the morning of their first semester back at school after the holiday. Tomas, Sylv, Claire, and Autumn thinks that today is just any other day. For some of them it is another day of track practice, for some it is another morning being sent to the office for doing something wrong, and some of them it is another boring assembly led by Principal Trenton’s famous start of the semester speech. Everything is normal until the assembly is dismissed and the kids try to leave only to realize that the doors of the auditorium are locked from the outside. No one can leave. Thousands of high school kids are stuck in this auditorium looking at their teachers for guidance. Then, one of the doors burst open. A former student yields a gun and begins taking out people one by one. How can this happen to Opportunity High School in small town Opportunity, Alabama where nothing ever happens? How can this be happening to me? That’s what every student locked in that auditorium is thinking as they hide for their lives so that they do not become one of the many bodies on the floor.
This is an important book that I think everyone needs to read. Unfortunately in the world that we live in, school shootings are something that aren’t uncommon. Sure, it feels like one of those “that can never happen to me” things, but these things are happening more and more. The way that the author took a fictional story and made it feel like it could be true events is what makes this so important. I read about characters from all walks of life who never though someone that they knew could shoot up their school. I followed these characters through their lives (and in some circumstances, death) and got to know how they are all connected. The author even uses social media (Twitter, blogs) in the book to show how kids that are always connected to their phones and to the world reach out for help.
I think the most compelling thing about this book is how the entire thing spans over the course of an hour. That’s what made it feel real for me, because in a situation like this an hour will feel like an eternity. With all the different POVs and everything happening all around the school, it really makes sense how so much can happen in such little time. For me, it was mesmerizing how so much could happen when only 10 or 15 minutes have passed, but it really brings me back to high school when I could sit in a class for what felt like days and only to have a few minutes tick by.
I just couldn’t put the book down. With every minute that ticks by, there is a chance that a character that you are just learning all about could die. This is truly one of those stories that grabs you by the heart strings and forces you to care. I really hope that once this book is published that it will be in school libraries everywhere because it starts a very important conversation about what to do if something like this should occur. Thank you very much to the author Marieke Nijkamp, the publisher Sourcebooks Fire, and Netgalley for providing be with an advanced copy of this book.