This book is a major heartbreaker, a downer in every sense of the word. But it is also incredibly well written. Violent Ends is an anthology (short story collection) from seventeen points of view about a school shooting. Trigger warning for sexual assault, physical assault, eating disorders, and probably a few other things that I’m losing track of. Now, I knew this book would be sad going into it, clearly, as it’s about a school shooting. But I wasn’t expecting this book to be so aggressively heartbreaking.
This is the perfect scenario for a short story collection, and each piece was beautifully written. I haven’t read any works from anyone in the collection besides Neal Shusterman, but almost every piece blew me away. (Surprisingly, I found his the least interesting out of all of them). It’s amazing what these authors did to elicit emotion in such a short amount of time. Most of the stories cover the time leading up to or away from the shooting, not often focusing on the shooting except through flashbacks.
Each character felt incredibly multi-dimensional, which I believe is the biggest contributing factors to making this one of the best books I’ve ever read. However, this book did lack diversity, both in authorship and in characters. There were some hints to a bit of diversity, but of course those characters did not have good luck during the telling of this tale.
I was especially blown away by how the very first story and the very last story tied together some major pieces of the puzzle. They mirrored each other, and tied together unsavory details that gave me a better feeling of how the interpersonal relationships of these kids tended to go down. I am not often inspired by conclusions, but this conclusion felt very solidly disturbing and appropriate in its relation to the rest of this story.
Please be careful if you do decide to pick this book up, a lot of what’s inside is very disturbing and contemporary fiction like this is no joke. Also check out other reviews on Goodreads, particularly the negative reviews have a lot to say from some standpoints I hadn’t considered.