I received an eARC copy from NetGalley in return for my honest opinion.
This book made me anxious. I felt like my heart was beating out of my chest the entire time. It was as if I was locked in the auditorium with everyone.
The book itself spans over the course of fifty-four minutes during this horrific event. The entire school was locked in the auditorium by Tyler Browne, the boy with the gun, after the assembly.
Like I said, the book made me anxious, but after cooling down a little bit, I started thinking about what to write about it. The book left me with more questions than answers and a severe case of anxiety, but in all actuality the book was a flop and a let down.
Readers were never given an actual answer as to why Tyler started a mass shooting spree. Nijkamp danced around the fact that Ty’s mom had passed away and he kind of blamed his sister, but we were never formally introduced to Tyler’s backstory and the inner workings of his mind before and during the shooting.
The book also shows connections between the characters, but it’s a little bit unrealistic to me. Claire and Tyler dated for TWO YEARS and she had never met his little sister, Autumn, who was a grade younger than them, but yet he had met Claire’s family? Autumn is viciously abused by her father after her mother’s death, but Tyler and Autumn’s girlfriend, Sylv, don’t do ANYTHING to stop it, and Claire had known Ty was abused, but never said anything either. If these people really cared about each other then they would have wanted them to get help, even if it took them away from them. The flashbacks throughout the book did help a little at understanding relationships and connections between the characters.
The characters could have been developed so much more, but they weren’t. For Tyler to be in control of the shooting, he sure was bland. He used to have a life and was close with his sister but something turned him evil inside. You can’t simply tell us how these characters’ interactions and relationships are, you need to show us their interactions and what makes them that way. Yes, I get Autumn and Sylv love each other, but how did they come to it? Yes, Claire broke up with Tyler at junior prom, but was him “flirting” with Sylv the only reason – if it was, Claire was a much shallower character than originally believed. Tomás spent the entire book making comments about his best friend, Fareed’s, stereotypes as a Middle Eastern immigrant. Claire and Chris had been best friends for a while, and her kissing him in a non-passionate moment is just supposed make them an item now when they had never discussed the possibility before? Tyler and Tomás had a serious beef with each other, but it’s only because Tomás put Tyler’s head through a locker? It was seriously infuriating how bland these characters and their histories were. Nijkamp had such a great opportunity to make a great piece of literature and she didn’t.
Random thought: I’ve never been in a school shooting, but I was raised in a family full of hunters. I know about guns, how to safely handle and shoot guns, and this author clearly does not know anything about guns. Nijkamp never mentions what type of gun it is, but mentions Tyler having to change out the cartridge every time he ran out of ammo. BUT a cartridge is what encases the bullet or shot, while a clip is what stores multiple rounds together as a unit, and a magazine is a storage device that is feeding into or attached to a repeating firearm. If you plan to write a book about a hot topic in today’s news such as school shootings and gun control, you should really have accurate details in your writing.
I had high hopes about this book. I had high hopes for it while I was reading it, but even at the end, I had to come to terms that this much-anticipated novel of 2016 was really just an over-hyped flop. I’m glad I was given a free copy, because I don’t see myself buying the book. If you want to check it out, go ahead, but for me, I don’t plan on buying it.
Up next is still to be determined. Hope you have an amazing weekend! Happy reading lovelies!