Genre Book Showdown: This is Where it Ends vs Violent Ends

I’ve been sitting on This Is Where It Ends for a long time.  I requested it months ago, but wanted to put my review out closer to it’s release date.  While I waited Violent Ends came out, and I thought it was interesting that the two were very similar.  Not only were both books about school shootings, both of them were also told from multiple perspectives, none of which are the shooter.  I wondered if these books would make for a perfect comparison review, and I was eager to put these two books in the ring and see who came out the winner.

If you’ve read either of these contenders, or both, please take a moment and let me know if you agree or disagree with my following assessment.

The Contenders:

this is where it endsThis is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publication Date: January 5th 2015
ARC Provided by Netgalley and Sourcebooks Fire

Synopsis from Goodreads:

10:00 a.m.
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.

10:02 a.m.
The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.

10:03
The auditorium doors won’t open.

10:05
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.

 

Violent Ends by Multiple YA Authorsviolent ends
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
Publication Date: August 5th 2014
ARC Provided by Edelweiss and Simon Pulse

Synopsis from Goodreads:

It took only twenty-two minutes for Kirby Matheson to exit his car, march onto school grounds, enter the gymnasium, and open fire, killing six and injuring five others.

But this isn’t a story about the shooting itself. This isn’t about recounting that one unforgettable day.

This is about Kirby and how one boy—who had friends, enjoyed reading, played saxophone in the band, and had never been in trouble before—became a monster capable of entering his school with a loaded gun and firing on his classmates.

Each chapter is told from a different victim’s viewpoint, giving insight into who Kirby was and who he’d become. Some are sweet, some are dark; some are seemingly unrelated, about fights or first kisses or late-night parties.

This is a book of perspectives—with one character and one event drawing them all together—from the minds of some of YA’s most recognizable names.

 

The Breakdown:

 

Best Main Character:

In This Is Where It Ends the story revolves around students that had a direct connection to the shooter, Tyler.  You have his sister, his sisters girlfriend, girlfriends brother, and the shooters ex.  Out of those different perspectives, my favorite was definitely Girlfriends Brother, Tomás.  Where the rest of the characters all felt very 2 dimensional to me, Tomás stood out.  He was a playful troublemaker, but he was also brave and protective.  His devotion to his sister made me care what happened to him.

It’s very hard to select a specific character from Violent Ends.  Since each chapter was written by a different author, each chapter had a different character/POV.  I believe that the goal was to use multiple perspectives to give us a clear vision of Kirby, the shooter.  Even though we never got his viewpoint, Kirby was always the focus, and I feel like that makes him the main character.  We saw all sides of Kirby, the good and the bad, and because we get such a wide view of who he was I have to select him as the winner of this category.  I feel uncomfortable calling him the best main character, since he’s the villain, but he’ll be the character from both books that will stick with me long after this review is finished.

Advantage: Violent Ends

 

Best Romantic Lead:

Neither book could ever be called romantic.  These books are tragedies.  In fact, This Is Where It Ends actually contained a small love story, and it honestly felt out of place.  There was already a relationship between Autumn and Sylv, so there was no need to include another and the inclusion of one detracted from the story for me.  That’s not to say that Violent Ends didn’t contain characters who were in love, or fell in love.  It just also focused on the months before the shooting, and the months after when people were healing.  The time frame in Violent Ends was more conducive for a believable love connection.

Advantage: Violent Ends

 

Best Supporting Characters:

Based on the way the books were written, with multiple perspectives, there weren’t really ‘supporting’ or ‘main’ characters in either book.  However, on a whole I definitely preferred the voices in Violent Ends.  In This Is Where It Ends the characters fell flat.  In my opinion it was because the victims were just all ‘good’ and the villain was just ‘bad’.  It made for a group of characters that were impossible to relate to.  I didn’t have that problem in Violent Ends.  The compilation provided us with a wide variety of personalities, in all shades of gray.

Advantage: Violent Ends

 

Best Villain:

There’s no competition when it comes to Best Villain. In This Is Where It Ends Tyler wasn’t very layered.  Nearly everything about him was villainous.  He was sociopathic, cruel, and vindictive.  There was a line in the sand, with Tyler standing clearly on the ‘bad guy’ side, and all of the victims were standing on the ‘good guy’ side.  I’m sure writing a black and white story makes for a more comfortable read for some, but for me it just makes the story more bland.  Kirby, in Violent Ends, was so incredibly complex.  We have the opportunity to read about Kirby from people who loved him, and people who disliked him.  We were able to read how kind and gentle he could be, and we were able to see for ourselves how angry and volatile he felt.  We read for ourselves all the times that he was unnecessarily bullied and abused and how much he hated because of it.  Maybe nothing at all would have changed what he did, but you read this and you can’t help but think about all the ways that it could have been different.  By the end you both loved and hated Kirby yourself, and that’s what makes him the best Villain.

Advantage: Violent Ends

 

Best World Building:

The strength of This Is Where it Ends was how it made me feel the fear of the kids.  While reading it my hands would tremble, and I would struggle to breathe.  It really got sucked me in emotionally, whether the characters were in the auditorium or if they were on the outside, watching and worrying about loved ones.  Instilling the emotion in the reader was very well done.  In Violent Ends because the story spans such a wide range of time, and because so much of the book was explaining what may have motivated Kirby, it didn’t focus so much on the fear in the moment as it did the psychology and the lasting effects.  It was good, and it was the one that actually made me cry, but I think just because of the adrenaline and the fear I have to give the advantage to This Is Where It Ends.

Advantage: This Is Where It Ends

 

Best Story:

This Is Where It Ends had an advantage when it came to expressing fear, but overall Violent Ends was the better story. Again, Violent Ends was the one that made me cry.  The reason for that is simple.  You feel so much more emotion when the characters aren’t cut and dry.  In one book we read about the kindness of Kirby and the cruelness of some of his victims. Kirby was both lightness and darkness, and the students he sought out were also both lightness and darkness.  They were all just human, living a human tragedy, and that’s exactly what made it so good.

Advantage: Violent Ends

 

Best Cover:

Both covers are pretty powerful.  On This Is Where It Ends the image of the shattering chalk is a good representation of what happens at the school.  Chalk is a reflection of innocence.  It’s a tool used in schools, and it’s also something that children play with.  Seeing a bullet smashing through, reflects the emotional and physical pain.  On the cover of Violent Ends it’s the vastness of the a school hallway.  It’s a place that should feel safe, loud with slamming lockers and chattering teens.  Except this hallway feels desolate and ghost-like.  It’s melancholy.  Both covers embody pain and heartache.

Advantage: Tie

 

Best Ending:

Violent Ends didn’t actually have a clear cut ending.  While  I loved the final chapter, written by Courtney Summers, and felt that it was one of the more powerful chapters of the story, it did feel like there should have been more… or perhaps the chapter titled Astroturf should have been the final chapter… I don’t know, either way in the end I didn’t feel like there was closure.  Whereas in This Is Where It Ends the story had a very clear beginning, middle, and end.  I felt peace when I finished.  As much as I don’t feel like there’s ever really closure after going through something that traumatic, as a reader I definitely prefer a story that leaves me with hope.

Advantage: This Is Where It Ends

 

Reviewer’s Slant:

Unfortunately the unrealistic black and white telling of This Is Where It Ends really hindered the impact of the story.  Despite throwing in a few flashbacks in a failed attempt to show Tyler in a softer light, every other action and memory of him was ‘evil’.  He was written to be a really bad person, and every one in the school was innocent and good.  I’m not at all trying to blame the victims.  Obviously you can’t.  Nobody deserves to be shot.  I’m just saying that is rarely so black and white.  Violent Ends wasn’t afraid to go there, and that’s exactly why Violent Ends was better.

Winner:violent ends

© 2016, Badass Book Reviews. All rights reserved.