6-Star Review + 2016 Favorites: This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

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Synopsis

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.

10:03 a.m.
The auditorium doors won’t open.

10:05 a.m.
Someone starts shooting.

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6+star

Robin’s Review:

This is where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

An entire student body is trapped in a high school auditorium.  One teenage boy has a gun.  Fifty-four minutes of terror narrated from four different points of view.  This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp is so relevant to our current day and age, stirring thoughts of terrorism and violence we so often hear about while watching the national news headlines.  I dare say many people will recognize this story to be their worst nightmare laid out on page.  This book is heart-stopping young adult fiction that reads more like a thriller, and it’s wholly terrifying.

Nijkamp calls to mind the fear victims must have felt at Columbine High School, at Century 16 in Aurora, Colorado, at an office party in San Bernardino, at the Bataclan Theatre in Paris as the events of the morning progress at Opportunity High School.  What would drive Tyler Browne to corner an entire school body in the auditorium, to right all of the wrongs, the injustices, he perceives to have been done to him?  Underneath the violence of this story, the author combines points of view from Claire, Autumn, Sylvia and Tomás, four individuals who have a history with the shooter, to help us understand the “why” behind his actions – something many of us are often left wondering when we hear about real life events on the news.

Nijkamp wholeheartedly captured my attention from the get-go.  The pacing of This is Where it Ends moves quickly.  It’s full of non-stop action, with most of the characters facing mortal danger as the story plays out.  Oh my goodness – did I ever feel anxious with this book!  In fact, my adrenaline spiked like crazy as I was reading.  I knew this thriller would be difficult for me to read, but I didn’t anticipate how hard it would be for me to put this book down before I had finished!  Nijkamp tempers the violence in this novel with backstory, timing the reveal of pertinent information about primary and secondary characters as the violence plays out.

Although the span of this book takes place over fifty-four minutes, Nijkamp does a fantastic job of crafting a thought-provoking story.  It’s not just about the violence – there’s more to it than that.  It’s about perception of injustice.  Bullying.  Loneliness.  Parental issues.  I felt a varied range of emotions while reading This is Where it Ends – anger, sadness, relief, empathy, anxiety, shock – I even cried tears.  Many of you know that I’ve reviewed novels for a while now.  I’m aware readers can sometimes be fickle about a novel with difficult subject matter, but I was personally left with a sense of awe.  Marieke Nijkamp grabs a solid 5-star rating for This is Where it Ends and earns the first spot on my list of 2016 favorites!

Author Bio:

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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.

Marieke Nijkamp was born and raised in the Netherlands. A lifelong student of stories, language, and ideas, she is more or less proficient in about a dozen languages and holds degrees in philosophy, history, and medieval studies. She is a storyteller, dreamer, globe-trotter, geek.

Marieke’s debut young adult novel This Is Where It Ends, a contemporary thriller that follows four teens over the course of the fifty-four minutes of a school shooting, will be published by Sourcebooks Fire in January 2016. Visit her at mariekenijkamp.com.

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