‘This is where it ends’ by Marieke Nijkamp
In ‘This is where it ends’ we follow four protagonists from Opportunity High: Claire, Tomás, Sylv and Autumn. The point of view changes often, because the author’s in a hurry. We have to get to know the students before the novels major scene – the school shooting – starts.
‘This is where it ends’
Right now this novel is being so hyped on NetGalley and by Sourcebook Fire’s e-mails telling us to spread the word about giveaways and yada yada, so that everyone hopefully will like it.
Oh boy, does ‘This is where it ends’ need to be hyped!? Yes, absolutely! Because it’s nothing near a masterpiece, and it isn’t even close to a good read, and it wouldn’t survive on its own.
I had three major feelings while reading:
it’s a really serious subject, school-shootings, so when you as an author loan almost everything from real school-shootings as material for your story, I think you’re obliged to add new and important perspectives, either through how the story is told or through new point of views, and with educational follow ups after the shooting. But this story starts just before the shooting, and it ends right after. They’re the moments that everybody already knows from TV coverage and documentaries. Nothing new is added, and it’s really, really unambitious. It made me so angry that school-shootings are used like this – as a template for a story – just because you can’t come up with anything better that contributes with something new to the subject.
As a result of nothing new being added, the story was dragged out with soppy, unrealistic flashbacks between each and every shot, as an attempt to keep it all going juuuuuust a little longer.
Because school shootings keep happening (there have already been two in the US in October 2015), the interest in them is big. We saw that on Netgalley. Teens really need something important to be said about these shootings. But ‘This is where it ends’ adds nothing new, that teens don’t know from TV or from the explicit school-shooting movies ‘White Rabbit’ (2013) ‘Elephant’ or ‘Zero Day’ (both 2003). If you watch these movies, you know and feel a thousand times more than if you read this book. And that disappointed me BIG TIME. I really wanted this to be good, but it just lets the teen readers down.
A few more things to be said about my reading experience:
Show, don’t tell!
– The biggest writing rule of them all: ‘Show, don’t tell’ was broken over and over. That’s why I felt absolutely nothing for the protagonists. They seemed totally unreal, their background histories was so constructed, and I just can’t feel anything for cardboard.
Tells us what to feel – stereotypical
– Marieke Nijkamp tells us to feel sorry for motherless Autumn, who really wants to be a dancer like her mom, but isn’t allowed by her violent and alcoholic father. Yup, sooooo stereotypical. And – of course – it didn’t get in; just exploded on the surface.
Self-pity has never worked
– There’s a lot of self-pity among the characters, and that has never worked for getting sympathy – quite the contrary.
No mobile phone – again
– No, a mobile phone would be too simple a solution, so they can’t do that. They have to do it with long-winded tweets. Duh!
I felt nothing
– Hands on my heart: I’m a cry baby! And I’ve always been pretty sensitive. John Green, Markus Zusak and Alice Sebold can – whenever they want to – make tears run down my face. But in ‘This is where it ends’ I felt nothing – absolutely nothing.
– The sentimental flashbacks (actually one between each shot, maybe to achieve a dynamic story) felt only like a procrastination of the police intervention.
I missed … a lot
– I missed characters I believed in, emotions, realistic families and background stories, and I really missed a follow-up. Either an emotional one or the controversial but brave follow-up, confronting us not only with the usual questions (“Why?” and “Could we have prevented it?” – it did that), but with some of the possible answers to this horrific phenomena. But the novel doesn’t even dare to touch the obvious subject about the easy access to weapons and ammo in the US – like the ‘White Rabbit’ movie did in 2013, so where does that leave us?
Do you remember Utøya and Anders Behring Breivik?
– A few years ago I saw a Norweigian documentary about the teens who survived the horrible shooting in 2011 by Anders Behring Breivik on the island Utøya, where he – dressed as a police officer – killed 69 people (33 youths under 18). In the documentary we saw how the teens lived their lives with the rest of their families now. They told us about their constantly returning thoughts and flashbacks, and they showed us how they still took antidepressants but still couldn’t sleep because of night terrors. It was touching, so powerful, relatable and unforgettable. I could feel every breath and every thought, even when they just sat in silence. It was everything, that I had hoped ‘This is where it all ends’ also could have been.
(Thanks NetGalley for the e-ARC of this novel)