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.
Why I picked this book up:
When I saw this book on NetGalley, the idea a) of a book taking place entirely within one hour and b) of it being about a highly topical subject, i.e. that of school shootings, made me want to request it as it was a concept I’ve not come across before in YA. It took me a really long time to get round to reading this book and writing a review, so in the time after its publication date I also heard rave reviews and the fact that at least two of the main characters were LGBTQ+, and to be completely honest, as soon as there’s lesbians in YA I am there.
The first thing that struck me about the narrative was that when each chapter jumped between main characters, the first person is used for each one. Although this does add to the emotion and the suspense in this book, for the first hundred pages or so it did get quite confusing as they flipped. This isn’t helped by the fact that most characters don’t really have their own narrative voice – everything is written in the same style, and a lot of the character traits (such as Tomas’s cocky streak) seemed jammed in as if to remind the reader that the characters do have traits that translate from their normal lives into a traumatic situation. I also felt as though the climax was slightly off (don’t worry, no spoilers) some death seemed needless and the way in which some characters reacted in the school shooter situation seemed unrealistic and forced.
That being said, I can’t deny that this book was gripping and emotional – I read it almost in one sitting and struggled to put it down. Regardless of my own problems with some of the characters I did find myself quite attached to others, and I was firmly rooting for them for the whole of the book. I also enjoyed learning the shooter’s motivations and history, as gradually as the tension builds so does the readers understanding of the antagonist. Although not one of the best books I’ve ever read, it was certainly…well, enjoyable might not be the right word, but it was emotional and tear jerking at times, and it’s always good to see more queer characters emerging in YA.
“You can’t always keep your loved ones with you. You can’t always settle your life in one place. The world was made to change. But as long as you cherish the memories and make new ones along the way, no matter where you are, you’ll always be at home.”
Overall rating: 3.5/5
I was given a free copy of this book through NetGalley in return for an honest review.