By Joanna Shaw
10.00 AM – School begins again for the students of Opportunity High, the principal finishes her speech in the auditorium.
10.02 AM – The students get up to leave.
10.03 AM – The auditorium doors have been locked, they are trapped.
10.05 AM – Someone starts shooting.
This is the only description the reader gets in this gripping and heart-breaking story of a school shooting in America, not only does Marieke Nijkamp write so brutally in great detail about her characters and the terrifying situation they’re in, she also presents the unfortunate truth behind the real occurrences across America and their questionable laws regarding guns.
The book follows four of the school students, all leading very different lives, but all have an underlying connection. They have all somehow upset Tyler. Watching from different positions in the school, from the protagonist’s perspectives the reader can begin to piece together Tyler’s motive behind his plan of mass murder. But what mildly disappointed me with these perspectives is that you never see fully inside Tyler’s mind, there are no chapters detailing exactly what is happening to Tyler.
You do however gain flashback moments from his sister Autumn, who reveals some disturbing and harrowing cases of abuse from their childhood. Tyler’s ex-girlfriend Claire I would say is the most relatable character, as she blames herself for breaking up with Tyler and believes his actions are all down to her. This book focuses on so much detail, every minute is recorded so it feels like real time. Every small action that the students locked in the auditorium is the decider between life and death for each of them.
This book is very well praised and in my opinion is a brilliantly well done debut novel from Nijkamp, I look forward to reading more of her work.