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.
The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.
The auditorium doors won’t open.
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.
***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Sourcebooks Fire
Contains triggers: School shooting, abuse, assault, sexual assault, violence.
- I’m not sure if it was the author’s intention but I actually felt bad for the shooter. His sister is self-absorbed and dealing with her own issues. She left him to flail. The pressure from the community to conform. The dislike from his peers, the literal beatings from some characters who were meant to be seen as heroes. The glimpses into his past from the other POVs show a hidden depth and softness that was corrupted by loss, grief, and misunderstanding.
- Diversity was all over the place. From tragic car accidents to Alzheimer’s to lupus to different ethnicities and lesbian characters, there’s a huge range and they don’t feel like “token” diverse characters. I appreciated that. So many times I’ve read books where it feels like characters have no function beyond the diversity in the book and each character functions as a regular teen with issues like anyone else.
- That last 10% nearly gutted me. OH MY GOD. The feels between siblings were heartbreaking and like a hard slap in the face. All the things we miss when we are so focused on the general drama in our lives.
- Logistically, some of the particulars were a little off and didn’t align with the culprit. The shooter is eagle-eyed, perceptive, and a skilled sharpshooter. His motives are clearly planned and he has targets in mind. This act is not random. Somewhere in the middle of the book, this all goes haywire and an escape plan is hatched. It floored me how easily students were able to sneak when in the beginning, every little moment was caught and punished.
- The story is told from more than 4 POVs, unlike what it says in the synopsis. There are blog posts and tweets (these were particularly confusing and hopefully the formatting is improved from the ARC version). The main characters relate events like you’re supposed to know their back stories. At first, I felt bombarded with information and it was hard to keep things straight. There are so many little details inserted offhandedly that it’s too easy to forget. At the halfway point, everything starts to fall in place and there are reminders of subtle, underlying issues like lupus or Alzheimer’s .
- It might have been the numerous POVs (doubtful) or the interpretation of the shooter but for the majority, I’d say 90% of the book, I felt barely a spark for any of the characters. Each character’s section was too short and flipped quickly to another. Just when you’d start to feel something it was on to another.
- For a book that is told in real-time and spans less than an hour it felt surprisingly slow. The terror wasn’t potent or as devastating because it kept moving from character to character and their life stories-flashbacks.
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