Published by Sourcebooks Fire on January 5, 2016
Source: Publisher, Edelweiss
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Amazon | Book Depository
Add to Goodreads
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.10:02 a.m.
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.
“Together, we’ll get out. Together, we’ll survive this. Together, we’ll be strong enough to face whatever comes our way. This is where it ends.”
More like, when is this book ever going to end?
Although this book was fairly short (292 pages), it took me ages to read. I had to force myself to keep reading. Nothing about it was compelling, even though it should have been.
For Pete’s sake, we’re at a school shooting.
These things are scary, they’re real, and they happen more often than the news cover. I’ve even had multiple threats for shootings at my school.
So why was I so disinterested in this story?
Every three minutes or so, the perspective changes to a different character. Let’s talk about the longest three minutes ever: full of flashbacks, endless pages of the characters’ thoughts, and nothing happening in general. I really liked where the author tried to go for this book, but I don’t think she ever got there. In the flashbacks, we see different versions of the shooter: caring boyfriend, malicious rapist, gentle brother, helpless victim. However, throughout it all I never truly understood him. Despite pages and pages of seeing what he did, it never clicked on why and how he became the way he was. We see him get bullied, drop out of school, get dumped by his girlfriend, and all these horrible acts. But the thought of coming to school with a gun: where did that come up from? I feel like the author could have explored way more on that aspect when recounting the flashbacks.
The only times I was engaged in the story was where the dialogue was. I wanted to see how the students would react, and the shooter’s reasoning in general. Alas, he was just another misunderstood white boy in a world of changing times. His character was dull, his motives were not substantially justified, and overall I didn’t get what I was quite looking for when picking up this story.
While the book dragged, I did enjoy some moments with the characters we’re reading the story through. Within the 54 minutes, we seem them mend relationships, discover things about themselves, and find growth in turbulent times.
“If you’re afraid, think of tomorrow, because tomorrow will be a new day. Tomorrow, there’ll be new chances.”
However, the execution left much to be desired and the whole time I was reading, I was hoping it would end soon. The events were slow, the characters were mundane despite their unique personalities, and I just didn’t have an emotional impact despite the heavy issues that this book highlights.
In 54 minutes, we see a shooter terrorize a school from the perspectives of four people who are somehow related to him. The addition of a shooter touches on an important topic today, but it never fell through. Instead, we are dragged along pages of memories and flashbacks that became a dull roar by the third one. Student deaths had no effect on me by the fifth one not because I didn’t care, but because it was brushed off so easily. Amidst it all was the growth of the characters this book was told through, but not even that could make me wish this book ended sooner.
Rating: 1.5 out of 5
Latest posts by Aila J. (see all)
- Eclipse the Skies Review: Sequel that left me wanting more - October 15, 2019
- The Lady Rogue Review: What Kind Of Secrets Can We Find, Dashing Through Romania? - September 20, 2019
- Serpent & Dove Review: A Witch & Hunter, Brought Together By (Un)Holy Matrimony - September 10, 2019
haha when will this book end hahaha! I hate it when i feel that way about a book. You would think a book about a school shooting wouldn't brush off the deaths of it's characters… I think maybe the goal of this story would have been better accomplished if we got to know the characters better and if it took place over longer time period.
My recent post TTT: Best Books I Read In 2015
Maybe so Jade (in regards to it being longer time period)! Seriously, it was the longest couple of hours of my life reading this book (that takes place in less than an hour). There was absolutely no impact for me. It was like, "Whoa! This person got shot? Oh. Okay." :\ And see, that led to a disconnect for me where in the end I got bored. :')
Awww…I'm so sorry to hear this was such a disappointment. 🙁 I can completely see where you're coming from though – if a book is about a topic as taboo and as horrible as school shootings, you'd expect it to have some depth and some purpose to it, right? 🙁 Nonetheless, thanks for sharing and, as always, fantastic review!
Thank you Zoe! <3 You're right, I couldn't find any depth or purpose; finishing the book left me empty and searching for the next read as soon as possible.
Oh, shame you didn't like this one that much Aila. Personally–I'm super excited for this one, though! The concept definitely sounds intriguing, and (I'm basically the OPPOSITE of everyone here) I love lots of PoVs. (If they're done in a way I enjoy.) Anyway, I'll definitely keep an open mind about this one. Thanks for the great review 🙂
My recent post YA BOOKS I READ & LOVED IN 2015
Oh, oh I hope you like it then Kara! See, I've heard both great things about this book as well as disappointing ones, so definitely give it a go! I think you'll enjoy the multiple POV's as we see the situation from different sides of the story. Enjoy!
Hmm, I have seen a few negative reviews of this one and honestly, I don't agree. I think this was an emotional and powerful book. I do agree with you that the shooter's motives weren't really fleshed out, but I thought that was the point. I mean, most every school shooter is white and it's really, really hard to find an explanation for their actions. And I can understand why the POV thing would be distracting. There were a lot of them. It took me a few chapters to get everyone straight. I am sorry you didn't enjoy this one more. Great review!
My recent post BOOK REVIEW: Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
I'm glad you thought it was emotional and powerful Cynthia! It seems that the general consensus of this book was "REALLY LIKED" or "heavy disappointment." It sucks being on the negative side, but it just didn't make as much of an impact as I expceted. (Although I really did like the diversity within the characters!) This was definitely not for me, but again I'm super happy that it resonated with you. 🙂
Oh no. 🙁 I just saw your star rating and was so, so disappointed! This one sounds really good, to me, but being as short as it is, and with as many POV's, I don't think this one would end up working out for me. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Aila!
My recent post Why Crown of Midnight Redeemed the Throne of Glass Series
It's my pleasure Ebony! Yeah, I was glad it was so short or else I'm not sure I could have finished it. Despite the length, it also draaaagged so much. I'd recommend to skip this one if you want a realistic take on a serious situation.
I can see where the author is coming from trying to give us different perspectives but if we never understand the shooter, then what's the point? Great review Aila, I can't believe the student deaths could be brushed off in that manner!
Thanks Jeann, and I agree. I know a lot of other readers highly enjoyed this one, but it had no emotional impact for me, unfortunately. And being from a school that had the threat of a shooting before, it just so, so disappointing.
Oh no, this is sadness. And even more sad is that I have seen like, 6 negative reviews of this today alone 🙁 I mean, if you are bored while reading about a mass shooting ummmm that can't be good news about the book at ALL. I may still give it a try (I almost said "shot", which seems like it would have been a horrible, if unintentional pun) at some point, but I won't exactly be running to read it for now. That's too bad, it sounded promising. Sorry it was such a miss for you 🙁
My recent post Books I’m Never Reviewing: Part Seven
It seems like people either REALLY liked this book or was really disappointed like me. I agree! A mass shooting should be terrifying, as is with my experience when a shooter threatened my school last year. But this book? Just, no impact.
(Omg that pun though) If you're in the mood, I'd say to give it a go because you might like it! Plus, it's short (even if it dragged for me.)
This is going to be difficult to read for sure
My recent post #ChristmasTreats #Giveaway + November12: Choose Your Side #StarWars #TheForceAwakens #crafting
Yikes! Sorry you had to go through THAT. I'll make sure it's not on the TBR.
My recent post *Spoiler* Review: The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Aww, thanks haha. I'm sorry too, it was just SO disappointing, you know?
Oh bummer. This could've definitely been a really poignant and important book but it sounds pretty disappointing. I know that Joey really didn't like it either, which is sad because it could have resonated with a lot of people today. It definitely fails to address the important issues if it doesn't even properly explore the motives or the reasons behind the shooting. GAH I hope your next read is better!
Thanks Jenna! I think it's worse because it seems like the author did a TON of research to get a good idea of what to write. I know some people LOVED this one, but I couldn't see it happening, especially after my own experiences with school shootings and violence. :((
I'm having the exact same reaction to another book that I'm reading. The subject matter should make me want to love it, but I'm having the hardest time with the protagonist and her thoughts. I get it, but there needs to be more to it than what I've read so far. I've not read this yet, but it's on my TBR. Great review!
My recent post Magic Bleeds + Curran’s POV Collection
Ah that's the worst feeling ever! I hope you enjoy this one more than I did. 🙂 It seems like people either really really like it or are quite disappointed (like me). Hopefully you understand and connect to the characters more than you did with your last book (I know it leaves me feeling quite hollow when I can't connect to characters).
I've read reviews from both ends of the spectrum and I'm so confused. Some people absoltely love it, and some hate it. I'd love to read it because of the school shooting aspect but the multiple POVs really puts me off.
My recent post Latte Nights Obsessions #3 | Instagram, Movies, & More!
I'd suggest you check it out just to experience it Marianne! It seems that people either really enjoy this one or are really disappointed (like me). Hopefully you fall within the former category! The multiple POV was weird, but also played an important factor in how the story played out.
Yeah, I was not a fan of this one. I thought it was pretty boring as well. Also, I couldn't tell one character from another!
My recent post DNF Report: Part Deux*
Ooh that sucks! I hate it when that happens and the characters' voices are so similar. The boringness factor is what took off so many stars. Hopefully your next read will be loads better!
Oh that's too bad. I know there's some social issues on here that are relevant nowadays, but sometimes socially relevant issues are too ambitious for some authors.
My recent post Mini Hiatus
It seems the author put in a lot of research for this one, so it may have been just me! Either way, I hope other people enjoy it, especially as it has important issues discussed in it.
I really interested in this one. The amount of POVs seems like it is a bit much though. It also doesn't seem like anything new. Still I might have to pick it up. Sorry this wasn't better for you!
My recent post Review ~ This Raging Light
I really hope you enjoy then! :)) It seems either people really like this one or are really disappointed by it (like me haha). Fingers crossed that you'll be in the former category!
So I NEARLY requested an arc of this but omg I'm glad I didn't. :O I can't stand books where it's 39489 people's POVs and there's no focus. >_> Plus I've read a few school shooting books and I already don't see how this stands out. Gah. Nope. This one is not for me, I can just tell. >_<
It's a good thing you didn't request it then! I was just so dissapointed in how little impact it had despite being such a serious and big issue, you know?