The book this is where it ends by Marieke Nijkamp is told from the point of view of four different teenagers as their school goes through a shooting. Two of the characters, Sylv and Autumn are trapped in the auditorium with the shooter as Tomás and Claire attempt to help their imprisoned classmates. Aside from being told from their point of views, the book also contains tweets and blog posts from students that are trapped inside and others who had stayed home that day.
The author’s decision to tell the novel from four different perspectives—both from inside and outside of the school—allows readers to get a feel for all the different emotions that are felt. Claire worries about her younger brother who is trapped inside. Sylv and Autumn worry about the safety of themselves, each other and their classmates. Tomás struggles to deal with the fact that is sister, Sylv, and makes the brave decision to try and help his classmates. Aside from bringing awareness to the very real problem of school shootings, the book contains flashbacks showing how all four of these characters—and the shooter—intertwine. It deals with the issues of their personal lives as the books deals with loss, identity issues and love.
The presence of social media throughout the text stood out as an important part of the novel. As students tried to get help, people on the internet were quick to deny the importance and vitality of the situation. One girl, Mei, whose father is a teacher, continuously keeps the world updated on her blog. She states, “There are survivors—thank God there are survivors. But that makes it harder somehow. There are so many faces we don’t see. Are they lost to us? I don’t see my dad. I can’t see him anywhere. We all cling to our lifelines. Our phones. Our memories. Each other. I feel so useless here. None of us have any answers.” Although Mei’s voice is only heard through her blog, she is the voice of all the people who wait for answers. It stresses the seriousness of a school shooting and how a town feels after such a devastating event occurs.
At first, I was hesitant to read this novel due to its subject matter; however, after reading it I believe this is the kind of book that needs to be shared. Not only does it content and key themes make it relevant in society, the feelings of despair, worry and heartache should make readers feel something and get people to take a stand outside of their everyday lives. The book questions if school shootings can be stopped in advance and explores different reasons as to why someone could result to killing.
As I have mentioned, the author’s use of social media and her choice of plot alone relates to society and teenager culture. Books like this allow people to gain more knowledge about difficult situations. Books also allow people to experience new situations, whether they be good or bad. Writers create literature for a purpose, and Marieke Nijkamp makes hers very clear.