**trigger warning: school shooting**
So this is the realistic horror novel of the twenty-first century.
Honestly, I’m not really sure how to review this in the way that the subject matter merits. To use the typical this-is-what-I-liked, this-is-what-I-didn’t-like system seems too… light. I did like the writing style. There was tension throughout the entire story. I felt the emotion. I liked the characters.
But saying all this is like… completely forgetting what it addresses. I can say these things for any story- but this isn’t just ‘any story’. It’s a school shooting. It’s a boy pushed so far over the edge that he traps nearly the entire student and faculty body of the school in the auditorium and systematically picks them off. It’s hundreds of kids and teachers being forced to watch their friends die. It’s the kids on the outside, forced to listen to the gunshots and be able to do basically nothing. This is the kind of book that, no matter the flaws- and there were a few major ones- you have to think. It sticks with you. Those flaws are pretty much inconsequential when you put them against a backdrop of the horror of the moment.
I do want to address them, though. The four narrating characters- Tomas, Claire, Sylvia, and Autumn- were all different, yes, but they had no flaw. They were all pretty much perfect. Yeah, Tomas gets into trouble, yeah, Claire dated the shooter and never spoke up when he obviously had some issues- but they were all mainly good. And Tyler? Where exactly did the hatred come from? I get that he lost his mom in an accident, that grief can change people, and that he was alienated from their peers, but how exactly did he go from point A to point B? He obviously had some mental issues, but it was never addressed. And the other victims were never lingered upon. You’d think that, if a teenager saw another person- friend, acquaintance, whatever- die, they might think about it a bit longer.
To sum up, I think that reading this book was totally worth it. In a world where mass shootings happen more and more frequently, whether in a school or theatre or shopping center or otherwise- it’s a terrifying subject to have to address. But we do, don’t we? And this book had some major flaws, that is true, but it made me think. And at this point- I think that’s the important part.