Published by Sourcebooks Fire on January 5th, 2016
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
Nothing I can say will ever do this beautiful book justice in my mind. I mean, WOW. What an incredibly gorgeous, yet heartbreaking book this was. I wasn’t sure what to expect, wasn’t sure I’d love this book as much as I wanted to, but at about 12% of the way through, the tears started falling and they never let up. I think part of the emotion was because this has happened so many times in the US. School shootings are not as rare as they once were.
I was also worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep the 4 different POV’s in my head. I wouldn’t be able to differentiate all four voices. Thankfully, it only took me a little while to get accustomed to them and before I knew it, I had no problem telling each of the voices apart. Claire, Tomas, Sylvia & Autumn each have a connection to the shooter, though the connections aren’t immediately apparent. The different connections they had to the shooter are revealed early on, for which I was grateful.
I cannot say enough about the diversity in this book. In some ways, I think the diversity within the characters was my favorite part. There were characters of different ethnic backgrounds, different family systems, and perhaps my favorite thing, main characters who were lesbian. I did not expect the LGBT aspect of the book, so to see that unfold really excited me, and in some ways, made me sob even more.
This book was very character driven and for a short book, these characters were very well developed. That was one of my concerns with this book, given the length. I was nervous these characters wouldn’t be fleshed out well, but they were.
The pace was quick, but in a book like this I wasn’t bothered by it. A whole lot of stuff needed to be packed into 54 minutes and it felt real to me. I felt the panic. I felt the terror and I felt sadness. I didn’t know it was possible to feel all of these things from a book, and I’ve been reading since I was four.
This book was the kind of book that sticks with you hours, even days after you’ve finished it. I love these type of books. The tough subjects, the books that bring the feels and this book was no different. Marieke Nijkamp’s debut is a stunning book that broke my heart from the very beginning.