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*I received a free copy of This Is Where It Ends from Sourcebooks Fire via Netgalley in exchange of an honest and unbiased review*
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.
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.
This Is Where It Ends is an intimate account of what happens in a high school in Opportunity when a former student comes back and locks all his friends and teachers in the auditorium before he opens fire.
In the news, school shootings are far too common, and it becomes like a media circus, both while it is happening, and in the aftermath. This Is Where It Ends manages to tell the story of a school shooting from four different students’ point of view, three of them on the inside of the school, and one just outside, training for track instead of being at the assembly. The fact that the story is told in these different perspectives, each in first person present tense makes everything that unfolds very immediate, and it was easy to be swept into the action, feel the fear, and hope with all my might that things could somehow turn out OK in the end – even when it was very clear that it wouldn’t.
Only two of the four characters sharing the events were inside of the auditorium when they realized they were trapped there. As soon as the shooter arrives, most of the people in the auditorium recognized him straight away, and even those who thought they knew him well were not exactly relieved. And once he started shooting, not completely at random, the terror increased among students and adults both. What really struck me was that in the midst of all the danger, Autumn came to life, she finally dared to tell Sylvie that she loved her, and that no matter what happened, Sylvie had her heart.
This Is Where It Ends only lasts for 54 minutes in story-time, but the action felt so tense I thought the same as Autumn, this had to take much, much longer. Between the bravery of many, the helplessness of others, I was deeply touched by this inside re-counting of a shooting. While I found the story to be very emotional, I thought it ended rather abruptly, even if the main story had a resolution, I couldn’t help but want to know what would happen to the survivors afterwards.
This is Opportunity, Alabama. Sane people don’t leave their homes when it’s white and frosty outside. We stock up on canned food, drink hot chocolate until we succumb to sugar comas, and pray to be saved from the cold.
Nothing can touch us. Not snow. Not even time.
Far and I both hold our breath. After what feels like forever, the footsteps move on. Whoever it was, they’re not out to get us. Not today.