From the beginning, I’ll admit, I really wanted to love this book. It has a controversial and harrowing premise, and I was excited to get my hands on a galley copy. That being said, I’ve read other early reviews, so I think I should get my biggest gripe out of the way. My biggest problem with this book is that at no point was I really TRULY emotionally overwhelmed by the story. I didn’t cry or rage or anything. And I feel like a book like this – with a premise this good – should have been more moving, more poignant.
Now that I’ve got that out of the way, I want to tell you why I think you SHOULD read this book. This book left me feeling appalled more than once, and I especially thought that Nijkamp’s portrayal of hte media was dead-on and terrifying. Here are these kids, trapped inside of an auditorium being terrorized and targeted, and as one kid is trying to tweet out for help in the outside world, media official are trying to contact him just to get an interview exclusive with him. They don’t even care that this person is trapped inside a school watching his friends die and trying to stay alive himself. All they care about is the story. And man, I thought that was just spot-on for American media. A very well-portrayed critique.
This book is gripping until the very end, and I found it impossible to put down until I had turned the final page. Not only that, but I wonder if maybe you’re not supposed to be overcome with emotion – I got the sense that this book leaves you empty for a reason. Because senseless violence isn’t always backed by a heartfelt sob-story, often times it isn’t fair or explainable or understandable. It just is.
In an age of school shootings, I think this is the kind of book we should be reading more of, to better understand what’s going on in our own nation. And I commend Marieke Nijkamp for having the balls to write a tale like this for YA… well before it becomes a mega-trend.
Definitely worth reading, especially if recent current events have left you feeling helpless and craving a better look into what might be going on in the mind of a school shooter.