10:00 a.m. The principal of Opportunity 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.
10:03 a.m. The auditorium doors won’t open.
10:05 a.m. Someone starts shooting.
The novel centres around a school shooting, each perspective is that of someone who has been in contact with the shooter in some way or another – and they all have something to lose. A novel full of suspense, who will get out alive?
I’ve been waiting to read this novel since it was released and I finally picked it up at YALC in the summer. I’m fascinated by how an author gets into writing such a tough novel because, ultimately, there is a lot of risk of not getting it right. I believe that Nijkamp was very sensitive and has fleshed out the characters really well.
I was really pleased to see the LGBT representation in the novel, two of the characters are lesbians and dealing with their breakup as the shooting emerges. There is also a character with a disability, as well as multiple characters who are ethnic minorities – but this doesn’t feel forced at all.
I thought it was really interesting how the novel used social media within the situation. These are teenagers and what we have seen, particularly in response to Parkland, is how young people use social media. Of course, there would be tweets, people would be trying to reach people. This was a good addition on Nijkamp’s part.
The ending was terribly, terribly sad and just leaves the novel on a poignant note. The shooting is, unfortunately, just the start of many people’s nightmares. Some will have to face life without their family members, others will have to live with injuries similar to those in war zones.
I gave this novel 4 stars, this was incredibly well written and tackled an incredibly hard topic. In the current climate, more novels like this should be available to bring awareness to what can happen. If you liked Only Child, one of my top reads of the year, you will also find this to be an excellent novel.