This is Where it Ends is an intense and disturbing YA about the unthinkable tragedy of a school shooting

This is Where it Ends is an intense and disturbing YA about the unthinkable tragedy of a school shooting

School shootings are not my favorite topic in YA literature, but I think it is important to look at the issue rather than to ignore it.  While I felt this book had good intentions, I found it more frightening than anything.


Goodreads Summary

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.

My Thoughts

I have mixed feelings about this book because I was really engaged, but I was left feeling a little helpless.  This book covers a school shooting from the perspective of various intertwined high school characters.  Initially, the shift from character to character is confusing, and it did take a while for me to get everyone sorted out.  Even after I got the narrators straight, I still struggled with siblings and parents because it was such a vast cast.  The  tweets that were interspersed throughout the narrative were confusing and I couldn’t always identify the characters who were sending or receiving them (probably because I’m old).  Despite that difficulty, I found the book very compelling.  There are too many characters to list, but the shooter’s sister, her girlfriend, and the shooter’s ex girlfriend all contribute memories and impressions that form a picture of a disturbed boy who crosses a line into madness without clear warning.  I found myself drawn into this story for that picture.  The first and last question anyone has about a school shooting is always “Why?”  This book does a good job of answering that question, but it also left me feeling a little like there was no way to predict or prevent this incident and I was left wondering what the message was here.  The topic is given the appropriate gravity and handled with sensitivity while maintaining a nightmarish realism, but there just wasn’t anything I took away from the book other than the horror and shock of a terrible tragedy that probably couldn’t have been prevented or stopped.  I understand that some books are about character development, and this book has a lot of that – characters find their courage and have epiphanies about love, life and sacrifice that will change them forever, but I think this book has the potential to simply make readers afraid of their school more than anything else.  As a teacher who has been trained for an active shooter crisis, this got even my anxiety levels up, so I think the situations and violence make this most appropriate for mature high school readers.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


About queenbook

When the final bell rings, I stash those messy piles of essays and analysis assignments in a desk drawer and I head home to a pile of good books. My kids and dog eat too many chicken nuggets and the house could be neater, but as long as I get my daily read, I guess we are doing all right. When I was twelve and fifteen and eighteen and twenty, I believed I needed to get out there and do those things I had just been reading about, which ended in disaster, tears, a tattoo that scares me every time I catch a glimpse of it in the mirror, and the realization that some of us are meant for action, and some of us are meant to critique the pace of action in a book. I read primarily YA fiction as I have a rather hulking classroom library and a hundred high school readers to engage daily. Nothing makes me happier than coming to school and finding an impatient teenager waiting by my door to turn in a book and get another one just like it. I adore a good zombie, a medieval princess, or girl assassin (I would like them all in one book if you are a writer looking for some inspiration). I add historical mystery to my wish list a year in advance, and you should get out of my way when the next Outlander book comes out. I have an embarrassing fondness for rock star books, but only if they don’t get too trashy and embarrass me. My favorite book of all time is The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery. My book boyfriends include Gilbert Blythe, Alonzo Wilder, and Jamie Fraser. They are mine and you can’t have them.

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