SPOILER FREE REVIEW
Synopsis (Taken from Goodreads.com):
10:00 a.m. The principal of Opportunity High School finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve.
10:02 a.m. The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.
10:03 a.m. The auditorium doors won’t open.
10:05 a.m. Someone starts shooting.
Told from four different perspectives over the span of fifty-four harrowing minutes, terror reigns as one student’s calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.
Goodreads Rating: 3.65/5 Stars
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
I read this book in one afternoon and it took me around two or three hours to read cover to cover. It was a short read and with the ways the chapters are set up, especially when you factor in what the time frame is within the pages.
Walking into this novel, I didn’t know much about it, apart from the fact that the subject was centered on a school shooting. This book was told through four different student perspectives and every student had some sort of tie to the school shooter, himself. Because of those switching perspectives, the reader was able to pull together the past of the shooter and of their relationships. It gave both a disjointed and intimately told story from each of these characters.
Furthermore, the story was very intense and compact, and every chapter moved through a two minute time frame. (I thought the every two minutes was a new chapter was the perfect touch to add intensity to the pages.) Due to that, I found it very easy to move quickly through this book; however, I was also slowed down by the sheer weight of the topic at hand. School shootings have become a rather statutory and repetitive event in American history, which is not an easy or welcomed fact to stomach. In addition, that makes the subject of the book very sensitive and it’s necessary to move through it with a careful and sensitive hand. I do believe that the author, Marieke Nijkamp, did handle the subject and the themes she used fairly well.
Not only that, but I walked away learning many important things about myself and the world around me. As shown by the events in the book, every word, every action, everything that a person can do can and will affect everyone around you. If anything, this had made me reflect on how lucky my life has been and I will definitely be more aware of everything I do in the future.
Also, this book had a heavy emphasis on diversity, which was nice to see in a young adult book! Now, I am a firm believer in allowing the reader to visualize the characters in whatever way they see fit, so the diversity felt a little forced in my eyes. However, do not mistake this for me not approving of the diversity – it was a very important element to the novel and one step forward for the young adult world.
But I did have one issue with the novel: the ending. I know that the author was trying to keep the theme of pacing within the epilogue, but it didn’t quite work. You had 280 pages of intense tragedy, for two pages of one character reflection. Yes, it did wrap the book up, but it was too rapid of an ending for what the rest of the book held.
Nevertheless, I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a young adult tragedy or contemporary read that is short and quick to read through. For me, it was the perfect book to get me out of my reading slump, and one that definitely has left an impact on me.
Also, make sure to check out my friend Michaela’s review of this book, over at Bookish Reviews and More!
“We’re more than our mistakes. We’re more than what people expect of us.”
― Marieke Nijkamp,