This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Unlike most of the people who I know who have read this, my review is not going to be overly negative. I will say that I understand a lot of the criticisms but this book still had aspects that worked for me, so I am not going to be overly negative in my review.
Part of this may be because one particular character really resonated with me, keeping me turning the pages throughout the book. Sometimes a book does that to you - in spite of the flaws that you are aware of, or issues that are present - a character is still compelling, and you want to know more, you have to know what happens. This is what happened for me with this book, and with Tomás - a bright and beautiful character for me, at least, one that kept me interested.
As a Canadian I am incredibly aware of the United States, and as such I am very aware of the spectre of mass shootings. So when I saw this available on Netgalley I had to go for it, though I was aware that the spectrum of how this could be handled in a book was pretty vast.
This book is definitely not without its issues. Fareed is a caricature in many ways. Some of the relationships could have used more exploration, particularly since the author chose to have one particular relationship be a primary driver for the conflict of the book. If an author's going to do that, there should be more attention paid to fleshing it out.
The other, bigger issue is that the antagonist could have used more depth - not once do we get insight from his side, which might have helped to cover the chasm between villain and victims. The trail that he must have followed is traced out, but we have to connect the dots and speculate as to what his motivations and reasons were. In some ways that's fitting, I guess, because so often these tragedies leave us doing just that when it comes to real life and the tragedies we see play out on the news. And honestly, I think this book is less about understanding the villain than it is about getting to know the victims and the survivors, and while I understand why that doesn't work for some, it did for me.
In spite of that, though, this book gutted me. Sometimes all it takes is one or two characters to draw me in, and that happened in this book. Tomás, and Autumn and Sylvia - they carry the past on their shoulders, and their fear, yet love and strength carry them forward, and that's what kept me reading, along with the rawness of their emotions. And there are other things in that book that added to it, for me - the sense of the predatory nature of the media, the terrible curiosity and fascination of the public. It stands in contrast to the fragility and enormous pain of the victims.
In the end this would be a book that I recommend, in spite of its issues. Whether it be a stepping stone to other books (I'm going to check out Hate List next) or just as a brief foray into this topic or to get you thinking, I think it's worthy of some time.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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