January 13, 2016

This Is Where It Ends- Shadowcon Mini-Views

Alright, so I just finished up the book This Is Where It Ends by debut author Marieke Nijkamp, so I thought I'd put down some thoughts about this. Let me just say to start, I was so looking forward to reading this book! I'd heard a lot of good buzz about it and the premise seemed loaded with potential: have the book take place over a period of one hour wherein students are victim to a school shooting/hostage situation. And having the POV characters be intimately familiar with the shooter opens the door to many great storytelling and character possibilities. So, premise-wise, this book had me hooked!

Unfortunately, Nijkamp just couldn't make good use of what she had. The dialogue in here feels very flat, like a rough draft attempt at a script instead of feeling like real people speaking, something that bothered me a lot because I'm used to the YA genre being very conscious about authentic dialogue between characters. But this felt far from authentic. I also was not a fan of how banal the voices of the various POV characters sounded; it felt to me like the author wanted to have poignant moments of introspection for the characters, but none of it stuck because she kept forcing it onto the page with every other line. The thoughts the characters have and how they work through problems does not feel natural at all, and this kills a large portion of what should have been the driving force of the book for me.

The biggest weaknesses by far, however, are the relationships between the various characters. None of it feels natural, and this is especially true for Sylvia and Autumn, a closeted gay couple. They lack believable chemistry; they say they love each other, the words are written on the page many a time throughout the work, but we never get to really grow attached to them as a couple or as people. Nothing of their relationship is ever explored, it's all just dumped on the page for us to lap up. And the blandness of the romance would have been fine if the book were aiming for a more neutral, down-to-earth tone. But no. Everything in here is poised to be grand: grand in how the plot unfolds, grand in how people die, grand in the dialogue... but none of that amounts to much because it's all so in-your-face blatant that it loses all its power.

I am very disappointed by this book. As much as the premise for this excited me and as much as people kept raving about it, perhaps I set my sights too high. But I don't think so. A book that tackles as much as this one tries to should not be a light read. This was a light read, and I am very saddened and disappointed by that.

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