Book Review: This is Where it Ends

Megan Wilson, Staff Writer

Bang. Bang. Shots ring out through the auditorium. This has been the reality in many schools across the country: Sandy Hook, Parkland, and countless others. Many students in the United States worry if they will be next.

Just two years ago, the bomb threat at NAI caused a similar sense of panic. Yes, it ended up being a false alarm, but at the moment, it was undeniably scary. 

The novel This is Where it Ends, by Marieke Nijkamp, shares a suspenseful, eye-opening story of a shooting at Opportunity High School. The students were normal high school teenagers having a normal day at school. The whole student body was starting a new semester with a speech from their principal. The speech ends and everyone gets up to leave to go back to class. However, the doors will not open. 

At 10:05 a.m., the shots start.

As the story moves along, we get the first-person point of view of four different students. Claire, Tomas, Autumn, and Sylv, who all face different fears about starting the new semester. Claire is worried about the future and if she and her running partner Chris will still be best friends. For Autumn, she is still mourning her mother’s death and is lost in the crowd with all of her classmates except for her secret girlfriend Slyv, and on top of that, is extremely worried about her brother Tyler, who had dropped out.

Slyv has just got accepted into Brown. She is worried that once she and Autumn leave for college, they will separate and go their own ways. But Autumn is not the only person whom Sylv has to worry about; she has a mother who is dying of a degenerative illness.

As for Tomas, he skipped the assembly to attempt to sneak into the principal’s office to go through student files. He and his friend Fareed are looking for one student in particular: Tyler. Tomas has reasonable suspicion that Tyler had been harassing his sister and feels that is the reason why he and his sister are not as close as they used to be. 

When everyone is locked in the auditorium, they turn around and see Tyler. Despite being in different places at the same time, all four of these teens share the same sense of dread as the horror unfolds. They hear the shots and know that the lives of their classmates in danger and they cannot do anything about it. 

For the students stuck in the auditorium, they wait anxiously to see what is going to happen next. Each chapter is a new, tiny little time period. Some chapters cover a span of five minutes, and others cover only one. 

Everyone is sitting there in absolute fear, and the emotions of the students conveyed throughout the book make it hard to put down. Nijkamp keeps her readers on their toes throughout the entire book. Minute by minute, the story gets more and more interesting. We find out more about every single one of the characters as they maneuver their way through this tragic situation. Every move they make could help save a life, or put one in danger.

This book covers a subject that remains a sad reality for many Americans. It’s a suspenseful and plot-twisting story, but more importantly, This is Where it Ends, offers a profound look into a cultural nightmare.  We can only hope that books like this can do their small part to close the chapter on school shootings in America.