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.
First book review of 2016! Wahoo!
I’ve had this book on my kindle for quite a while but for some reason I’ve been avoiding it, waiting for the right time to read it. I wanted to be in the right head place, I wanted to have the time to really immerse myself in it, I needed to be somewhere that I could get all emotional and cry and not be judged. It took a while, but I finally found the right time and place to read it and I’m really glad I did.
I have to admit I was intrigued when I saw the description for this book. Gun crime in schools is something very relevant to our world today and having never read a book on the subject before I was curious to see how such a sensitive subject would be tackled. I have to admit I was expecting to be in a highly emotional state by the end of the book, and although I wasn’t I still can’t deny how captivating the story was.
“I didn’t need to die for him to kill me.“
The format of the book was great, with the events unfolding through the eyes of four people: 2 trapped within the auditorium, 1 trapped in the school and 1 outside of the school, all of whom are linked to each other and the shooter in various ways. I will admit that although I liked all four of these characters it did take me a while to grasp who everyone was and the various friendships, relationships and family bonds.
Splitting the book up into the different time periods was something I really liked about this story and it’s quite eary when you get to the end of the book and you realise that after all that horror and death and everything that has just happened for the past 292 pages, it’s only been 54 minutes.
“We’re more than our mistakes. We’re more than what people expect of us.”
Along with the various POVs came flashbacks, which were great for seeing the events that led to the shooting and I wish that there had been more of them so I could get to know and connect with the characters a little more. Mixed with the narrative we got text messages, tweets, blog posts etc which gave us a view of the outside worlds reaction whilst the shooting is taking place. It was a nice addition, but for me it didn’t really add all that much to the story.
“I know the auditorium may be big enough to hold a thousand students, but it’s too small to hide just one.”
One thing I really struggled with was connecting with these characters who we only meet 5 minutes before the shooting actually starts. I don’t feel like I was able to get to know them enough to really feel their fear and the pain once everything started falling apart. People were dying, but I didn’t know them and so although I was sad about it I don’t feel that this book was able to give me the emotion that I had hoped it would.
For me, the emotion that I had wanted to feel through this book came with the epilogue. And it was the only point in the entire book that I cried.
“You can do far more than you ever imagined.”
The thing that makes this story shine though it how real it is. One thing I was really curious about before reading this book was if any of it was going to be from the POV of the shooter. It wasn’t and I’m kind of glad about that. I like though that we get to see it from the POV of people who are all linked to him in some way and were involved in events that led to the him deciding to take such extreme action.
I liked the reality of the book. We read a lot of fiction now a days with teenage heroes/heroines saving the world. But in reality not everyone can be a hero and teachers can be just as scared as children. The whole hing is handled so respectfully none of it seems dramatised, and Nijkamp didn’t keep her characters in that auditorium any longer then she needed to.
“This is how I shape our future.”
Massive love for Nijkamp. Not many authors would be brave enough to take on such a serious and relevant topic as this, or handle it so incredibly.
Re-Readability: Maybe not right away, but yes
I would recommend this book to fans of: books set in high school, books with relevant to the world today themes, serious topics, multiple POV books