This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

By Ekta R. Garg

January 6, 2016

Genre: YA Thriller

Rated: Borrow it

When a young man enters a high school and starts shooting, the entire student body and the administration comply with his wishes to minimize the casualties. They don’t know why he’s come to wage this terrible act—but one girl does. She must find a way to communicate with the boy and get him to stop before he ends up killing everyone. Author Marieke Nijkamp brings to life this harrowing plotline that could have come from any one of a number of news outlets in the disturbing but important book This Is Where It Ends.

Opportunity, Alabama, embodies the typical small-town image, and no one knows this better than Autumn Browne. She dreams of getting away from Opportunity. Autumn wants to become a professional ballerina, following in her late mother’s footsteps. When she dances Autumn feels closest to her mother, which is more than she can say for her relationship with her father and her brother. Her father tries to drown his grief and anger issues in alcohol. Her brother disappears for days at a time.

Autumn doesn’t even know if Tyler will come back for the second semester of school, and she can’t decide if that’s good or bad. The first day of the second semester back is the anniversary of the accident that took their mother’s life, and Autumn wants the day to go as smoothly as possible without dealing with Tyler’s rage. Lately he seems even angrier at life than their father; Tyler scares Autumn.

No one, however, could be as scared of Tyler as Sylvia. She has a terrible secret about Tyler, and no one knows about it. Not even her twin brother, Tomas. The secret has caused a rift between the twins, in fact, but Sylvia doesn’t know how to mend the rift without making Tomas angry. So she doesn’t say anything, and when Tyler doesn’t show up for school she exhales in relief.

Until Tyler does show up. But not to attend class. Instead, Tyler waits until everyone is settled in the auditorium for the principal’s customary start-of-semester pep talk. Then he makes his entrance with guns in hand and a maniacal agenda in mind. Some of the teachers think they can reason with him, and some of the students react too slowly to Tyler’s demands. Those teachers and students quickly become examples of just how far Tyler will go to make people listen to him.

Tyler manages to lock the majority of the students into the auditorium, and he forces them to listen as he declares how tired he is of people ignoring him. Autumn listens to her brother and knows that she has to do something to make him stop. But what? And how many more will die before she can convince him to surrender?

Not everyone is in the auditorium, however, and the few students who didn’t attend the assembly will have to find a way to figure out what’s happening and then help those trapped before too many lose their lives. In the meantime, Tyler continues to point and shoot. No one paid attention to him before, he says. Now they will have to.

Author Marieke Nijkamp spreads the events of the shooting over the entire book, and the pace doesn’t slip at all. Instead, she keeps readers engaged with spikes of adrenalin. Nijkamp handles the tension like a pro; just as readers might feel like they can breathe, she injects another electrifying moment into the book. The result: readers will most likely feel like they need to read the book in one sitting, just as this reviewer did.

Parents might find the book difficult to read because of its realism; Nijkamp truly brings to life current events, and the novel will certainly make more than one reader shudder. How many real-life shootings have occurred because of gunmen who felt lost, shunned, wronged by society somehow? In the end readers will certainly ask about Tyler, as they must about the real-life gunmen, what professionals can do to reach these troubled young men.

The bloodshed and heartache the characters feel may make readers shy away from reading the book more than once. The novel definitely hits all the right notes in terms of plot, character development, and pacing, and it’s certainly an important book to read. For the fact that the emotional impact could be overwhelming, however, I recommend readers Borrow This Is Where It Ends.

(I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)