This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

Sourcebooks Fire, 2016

Opportunity, Alabama — One close-knit community, one high school, one group of seniors getting ready to begin their independent lives. But first they must make it through one final semester, a semester that begins, as always, wtih Principal Trenton’s dreaded all school beggining-of-the-semester speech–only this semester the speech doesn’t go as planned. This semester there’s someone in the auditorium with a gun, someone who’s got a grudge against Opportunity High School, its teachers, and its students, someone who wants to make all of Opportunity pay for his anger and his sorrows.

Taking place over the span of less than an hour, this fast-paced novel follows four Opportunity students through the nightmare of a school shooting incident. Heart in mouth we are with them as they consider their lives and loves and do — or don’t — emerge on the other side to a life forever changed by the crazed boy with a gun.

I began this book on a Friday evening and though I meant to accomplish all manner of household chores on Saturday afternoon, I found myself, instead, drawn back to the book to finish reading because I simply had to know what happened and how it all fell out.

Fast paced, beautifully written, and timely, this book shows Nijkamp’s sensitivity and her understanding of teens, their worries, strengths, and troubles. Her portrayal of the four main characters and, in fact, the shooter himself allows readers to contemplate not only the complex issues in such a terrifying situation: How might one stop it? What caused it? Who might you save if you could? Where do your real loyalties lie? It also leads readers to contemplate the many factors that might lead someone to such a heinous act.

As gripping as it is, This Is Where It Ends is a hard story to read. I’m sure it was hard to write as well. Read it anyway; you’ll be glad you did. You’ll root for Nijkamp’s admirable characters and sweat with their parents and loved ones outside the school.

I received this book as an electronic Advance Reader Copy courtesy of Sourcebooks Fire and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Sparked by Sheena Snow

Product DetailsSoul Mate Publishing, 2015

The government’s been building robots in a secret program, and they look exactly like humans. They’d been building them for years before anyone outside the government found out. When the secret program was discovered, the leaders won public opinion over by offering robots up for sale to the public — who wouldn’t want a robot to do the cleaning and the gardening? But Vienna doesn’t trust them, not one bit. So when her mom brings a robot into the house to be their cook Vienna is horrified. But she soon learns there’s a lot more to robots than she imagined. That’s lucky for Vienna, because before too long one gorgeous specimen of a robot is the only thing that’s keeping her safe from the government that invented him.

I was intrigued by the premise of this story: humans and robots in society, a human-robot love story to boot. Sheena Snow has written an intriguing tale. Though Vienna is a teenager, this story reads more like an adult romance/adventure than a young adult novel. That’s not really a criticism; I simply found it surprising in a book that’s being marketed as YA. It’s an adventure and a love story, but it seems particularly unmarked by adolescent angst. It’s fairly violent but not sexually explicit.

I was drawn in and read this fast-paced book quickly. A couple of unanswered details niggled at me as I read, but I can be anĀ  impatient reader and it may be that the author is saving the reveal for future books. Sparked is billed as the first book in the Metal Bones Series.

I read this book courtesy of the author and Kate Tilton in exchange for an honest review.