Out of most of the books I had shelved to read this year, This is Where It Ends probably topped the list and was definitely in the top five of my anticipated reads of 2016. This book tells the story of a school shooting from a number of different points of views. And that's all you need to know.
It may sound remorse but as soon as I found out this book covered the events of a school shooting I knew I wanted to read it and I wanted to read it that very instant and I was devastated I had to wait for it. As a journalist, I have been in the newsroom while myself and my colleagues have been the people behind the computers trying to find people posting social posts, images and videos from such events and other events such as the Paris Attacks and Charlie Hebdo. It's my job to become involved in such an event and to want to report it. I've seen the graphic imagery that can come out of these tragedies but nothing will ever come close to being as chilling as the eye-witness accounts regularly reported by media, and accounts such as the fictional ones laid out in This Is Where It Ends.
There's a cold ruthlessness that creeps into every corner of this book that is Tyler Browne, the shooter. The way he 'takes no prisoner' and shoots down people with a methodical ease in the way it seems most shooters do. It's frankly terrifying and I think the detached cruelty held by Browne could be quite reminiscent to how we've seen real-life shooters being described. The only problem I had with the book, and is why I knocked off a half point, is that I don't think all school students are so...black and white as Browne. We did have different view points of his character, his sister who loved him, her girlfriend who hated him, and his ex-girlfriend who had loved him once. We do see the good sides of him in Autumn and Claire's POV but I think they're always overshadowed by the implications Slyvia lays down about him. The common case of shooters seems to be the isolated white male, often with a gun fascination, who seems to think the world owes him something and he's angry he hasn't got whatever he's looking for yet. And while Tyler certainly was that, the book gave him another edge that was pure evil and I'm not sure it was 100% realistic.
I definitely felt emotion while reading it and unlike other reviews I found myself attaching myself to some characters but not all the main characters. Asha, Matt, Tomás and Farseed were a few that really locked themselves into my heart. I found myself silently begging that none of them would get hurt and I could feel my stress levels rising as I flipped each page waiting to see the outcome.
Even though they were some of the main characters, I actually didn't care about Autumn and Sylvia. I found their love story too dramatic and I think it tried to take too much away from the overall plot. I understand that their relationship was one of the things that brought Tyler to breaking point but there were other factors in there as well and well, I just didn't like Autumn and Sylvia, they irritated me and I don't even have a really good reason for that. I much preferred reading from Tomás POV. I really loved him and the whole hero thing he had going on.
As a journalist, I found the subtle nods of how some media reacts to these events (incessantly tweeting people that could be in a dangerous situation for information) really interesting. It's something a newsroom needs common sense in and a certain approach to and with the internet today, it's something that can really get people in trouble.
Overall, I found this a great fast-paced read and once the 'action' gets going it 's very hard to put down. I literally had to throw the book away from me to force me to get some sleep for work the next morning!