Author: Marieke Nijkamp
Publication Date: January 5, 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Rating: 4.5 stars
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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.
This book gutted me in a quiet and unexpected way.
The actual story is told over the span of 54 minutes, yet there is so much history encompassed in these pages; the kind of history that speaks to what kind fo town Opportunity is, the legacy of its families, and, of course, the intimate lives of the narrators of this event. There are multiple POVs but it was never confusing and I felt like I was not only able to get to know each character but really connect with them. By the end of the book, felt regret, mournful, and relief alongside them- a rare feat for any author to accomplish, especially in such a short amount of pages. I’ll be honest, I’m usually quite picky about books that have a lot of flashbacks but this one pulled it off amazingly well.
I really enjoyed this story, not only because it was gripping in a horrifying can’t-look-away kind of way. The author did a great job fleshing out all of the characters and I wanted to applaud the different representations she included to give a true multifaceted view of how all of this came to happen.
There are tough themes in the book like bullying, abuse, and sexual assault and by the end there is so much regret and heartbreak. This book is dark, diverse, maybe controversial, and hauntingly real. A powerful debut by Marieke Nijkamp, and one that has me looking forward to her future works.