One of the things that frustrates me about the horror genre is that we sometimes fail to include everyday horror under the umbrella. When I talk to people about what they read and what they like and subsequently what they veer away from, the topic of horror often comes up: even today there’s a popular conception that horror needs to be one way to understand that it’s horror:
There’s a supernatural element or there’s a serial killer or there’s a supernatural serial killer that doesn’t stay dead so you have multiple sequels in a franchise with some dude wearing a mask and carrying a machete.
I’m totally fine with both, by the way, though my preference tends towards the former since I like monsters and haunted houses and talking boards used as plot devices, but personal preference non-withstanding, I’m still reading stuff that is labelled “contemporary fiction” when the underlying theme is one of dread; a dark overtone that suffuses the work and sometimes ends at a place where the good guys don’t always win. (And that, my friends, is pretty much me paraphrasing the eminent Ellen Datlow’s definition of the genre: these stories end in darkness.)
Horror is a feeling, a sensation of dread following things not working out well for the characters involved, that not everything is right in the world in the story’s aftermath.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn for example. Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn, another (which, incidentally, masquerades as a paranormal novel but actually deals with child abuse and the projection of lycanthropy as a coping mechanism.) This is where it ends by Marieka Nijkamp doesn’t need the tropes because the subject of a school shooting is horror unto itself, and regrettably, in our society, its the sort of story that needs to be told because this is the sort of thing that happens all the goddamn time.
And what does that say about our world?
This is where it ends by Marieke Nijkamp
I’m not here to proselytize: I’m here to point out that this is an uncomfortable book that contains several triggers that doesn’t have a happy ending (not really, I mean: we want the characters to survive, but you know it’s going to be horrible, and people are going to die from a senseless act of violence.) It’s not a fun read, but a necessary one.
It didn’t teach me anything other than that the world is a dark place and is occupied by people who are alone, and hurting, and who don’t know how to cope, endure, or persevere – it won’t teach you how to survive in the case that someone enters your school armed with the intent to kill.
I taught me everything in that there is still hope, and there are still heroes, and there are still martyrs even in the worst situations. It taught me that love endures even over death.
Its a brave book, and yet it doesn’t try to moralize.
It doesn’t offer a solution to the problem.
And that’s okay as much as its not okay; not okay that a senseless act of violence can bring its survivors together, not okay that a senseless act of violence occurs to begin with, not okay that there isn’t a solution to the problem, or that children suffer, or that we live in a world where this sort of event is normalized through fiction or that there’s such a disassociation between the viewer and what they see on television that this is a necessary story to tell and to read.
Necessary. Not okay but necessary.
About the Book: This is where it ends by Marieke NijkampThis Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on January 5th 2016
Check it out: Goodreads
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.
Told from four different perspectives over the span of fifty-four harrowing minutes, terror reigns as one student’s calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.