Hi everyone. For today’s reviews, I thought I’d try something new and do a joint review. I read both of these books really close together for this exact purpose. Let’s just say it was a bit emotional and maybe not my best idea!
I’ll be doing reviews over Violent Ends and This Is Where It Ends, both which deal with school shootings in different ways.
Before now, I never read a book that was based around a school shooting, so I wasn’t sure what to expect, especially with Violent Ends given it was written by so many authors. Both of these books are incredibly timely given the rate that school shootings are happening. Knowing how often school shootings happen can really make reading these books terrifying. I find that I do radiate towards the darker topics such as shootings, drugs or human trafficking. When I knew these two books were coming out, I knew I was going to request them immediately.
I think school shootings are really interesting due to so many variables there are with the shooter. Was the shooter mentally ill? Was the shooter really angry? Are they completely inhumane? Were they just misunderstood? Could it have been prevented or was it unpreventable? Reading these two novels gave me a closer look at those questions as well as the humane and inhumane sides there are to shooters.
Title: Violent Ends
Author: Shaun David Hutchinson (Editor), Kendare Blake, Steve Brezenoff, Delilah S. Dawson, Trish Doller, Margie Gelbwasser, E.M. Kokie, Cynthia Leitich Smith , Tom Leveen, Hannah Moskowitz , Elisa Nader, Beth Revis, Mindi Scott, Neal Shusterman, Brandon Shusterman, Courtney Summers, Blythe Woolston, Christine Johnson
Published: September 1, 2015 (Simon Pulse)
Genres/Themes: Young Adult, Contemporary, Anthology
Source: Simon Pulse VIA Edelweiss (This in no way affect my review)
Rating: Four Stars
It took only twenty-two minutes for Kirby Matheson to exit his car, march onto school grounds, enter the gymnasium, and open fire, killing six and injuring five others.
But this isn’t a story about the shooting itself. This isn’t about recounting that one unforgettable day.
This is about Kirby and how one boy—who had friends, enjoyed reading, played saxophone in the band, and had never been in trouble before—became a monster capable of entering his school with a loaded gun and firing on his classmates.
Each chapter is told from a different victim’s viewpoint, giving insight into who Kirby was and who he’d become. Some are sweet, some are dark; some are seemingly unrelated, about fights or first kisses or late-night parties.
This is a book of perspectives—with one character and one event drawing them all together—from the minds of some of YA’s most recognizable names.
First Line: Susanna Byrd turned nine that Thursday morning at 7:17 a.m.
Violent Ends is a cohesive collection of seventeen stories all revolving around the characters affected by a school shooting. Each of the stories was edited by Shaun David Hutchinson.
You know those books you start and almost immediately regret? Well this was Violent Ends for for. Before you cross it off though, you may want to wait. Violent Ends wasn’t badly written, on the contrary, with writers such as Neal Shusterman and Hannah Moskowitz, it was very well written. My favorite stories were Feet First, Hypothetical Time Travel and History Lessons.
~Specific Things I Enjoyed~
- The idea to make this an anthology with so many different authors taking this character into their own hands was really original.
- I liked how different each of the stories were from each other. Some were serious and some were lighter. They were pre-shooting, post-shooting and even during the shooting, these helped give a fuller picture.
- I loved the different sides they showed of the shooter, Kirby. There were times when I’d think “He was good or okay” and then something would happen or I’d remember the shooting and change my thinking. He’s not portrayed as all good or all evil and I liked that. I felt empathy towards him and I’d feel anger towards him as well.
- The focus of the stories were always somewhat based around Kirby and how he affected the characters. Some of the characters were a childhood friend, a relative, a teacher and the gun itself.
- I found it to be very addicting, I kept wanting to read more and continue after every story.
-Some Things I Didn’t Enjoy-
- In a couple of the stories, I found that they’d made Kirby to be a bit of a somewhat “hero” at times. I’m not saying he was fully bad, but he helped two characters in similar ways and I didn’t understand the case for one of them because it was so random.
- At times it felt like Kirby was this manic pixie dream guy who a lot of people were fascinated with for whatever reason.
- Not all of the stories “worked” for me, but that’s okay.
Violent Ends gave me an interesting perspective of school shootings after only seeing them portrayed in television shows. I liked being inside characters heads that were impacted by the shooting and seeing how that affected them. I loved how there was a constant picture of Kirby in every story and that I saw part of what led to the shooting. I would recommend this book.
- Something tragic happens to the world every minute of every day, and nowhere is really safe, but home is the only place we really have to go back to in the end.
- Everyone keeps asking the same question. Everyone wants to know–needs to know–if there was some sign of something broken inside of Kirby. They want proof that he was a monster from the start. They want to take comfort in the idea that it takes a special kind of evil inside a person to kill like that.
- I never told them what I knew to be the truth. That he meant to save me.
Title: This Is Where It Ends
Author: Marieke Nijkamp
Published: January 5, 2016 (Sourcebooks Fire)
Genres/Themes: Young Adult, Contemporary, School shooting
Source: Sourcebooks Fire VIA Netgalley (This is no way affects my review)
Rating: Four Stars
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.
First Line: The starter gun shatters the silence, releasing the runners from their blocks.
My heart is heavy as I try to write this review. Unlike Violent Ends, This Is Where It Ends takes place primarily during a school shooting. It’s told through four point of views, Sylvia, Autumn, Tomas and Claire. I liked the role each character played in the story. This Is Where It Ends has some of the prettiest language I’ve read.
-Specific Things I Enjoyed-
- I enjoyed reading about the hobbies that students had, namely Claire with track and Autumn with dancing.
- We live in such a technological age that almost everyone is on at least one type of social media. I loved seeing Twitter and blog posts scattered throughout This Is Where It Ends.
- For being in Alabama, there was a great number of diversity in this book. There were queer characters, people of color, and disabled characters. I found the latter to be the most compelling given how difficult it would be in a situation as a shooting and being limited by the disability. While I liked the diversity–a ton–I felt it was a little out of place. This is Alabama we’re talking about and a small town at that.
- I thought the different settings that took place really helped the story come alive. If the story had only taken place in the auditorium, that would have been interesting too though since it’d seem like a more tense situation.
-Some Things I Didn’t Enjoy-
- Sibling Pairs- There are two pairs of siblings in this story and three out of four siblings have point of views in the novel. It was hard to remember who was who at times.
- Shooter- I felt the shooter was a bit bland, they seemed to be portrayed as the bad guy with no real characteristics other than a somewhat sad homelife, I suppose.
- Length-I wish there were more time in the auditorium and I wish the book was longer.
I liked This Is Where It Ends, but I didn’t love it. I was honestly a little let down about it because I’d heard so many praises.It was heartbreaking. I do think it’s a good story and I loved the writing. However, it didn’t really ‘click’ with me. I wish I was able to learn more about the characters, but I liked how “in the moment” it was, given the obvious point that it takes place over 54 minutes. I will definitely look out for the author’s next book.
- It’s as if all of Opportunity falls away. We’re lost between making a home and escaping one. It won’t be long before our secrets choke us, before she finally realizes I don’t deserve her and she leaves me too.
- Only dancing keeps me alive. It will free me. And I can’t let anything get in the way of that.
- This is my team. This is where I belong. Here and now, we are everyone.
- If I were in the auditorium, I’d want someone to come for me. I’d want there to be hope.
- Despite being a thousand against one, we are powerless.
- He’s comfortable with our fear.
- Together we could be so strong, but the gun has made us individuals.
- We’re more than our mistakes. We’re more than what people expect of us. I have to believe that.
- If I don’t get out of here, what will be left of me? Who will remember me? It’s easier to know who I’m not, than to know who I am. When everyone expects me to fail, it’s easier to give up than to try.
- We’ll watch the stars fade and the moon disappear.
- Getting out alive is no longer the goal–not dying yet is.
- There is nothing left but pain. Flashes of life and flashes of intense darkness. Noise. Everything hurts.
- This is where we leave Opportunity around.