Book Review: Violent Ends

Violent Ends
By: Shaun David Hutchinson
Published by: Simon Pulse
Release date: September 1, 2015
Genre: YA contemporary, short story collection
384 pages
Source: ARC kindly provided by publisher

This is a collection of short stories, with the common theme of a boy who takes a gun to school and causes chaos and destruction. Each of the stories is from a different point of view, and by a different author. I loved the premise, so I decided to give it a try.

I still love the premise, but feel that the editing could have pulled it all together better. The seventeen contributing authors have varying styles, and while this can be useful when telling stories from differing viewpoints, there still needs to be more of a flow from story to story. My reading of the advanced copy was also muddied by the fact that there was little to no warning in the text when one story ended and the next picked up. I'm sure that the formatting of the final copy will help that along.

It seemed like a few of the stories got a bit repetitive, though most were not. There was some great layering of story elements from author to author, but a handful of characters were typical stock obnoxious teens. There were shining moments when truly interesting and unique characters got to tell their stories of how they knew Kirby. If you choose to pick up this book and find yourself drifting, push forward to find the really great contributions.

It took only twenty-two minutes for Kirby Matheson to exit his car, march onto school grounds, enter the gymnasium, and open fire, killing six and injuring five others.

But this isn't a story about the shooting itself. This isn't about recounting that one unforgettable day.

This is about Kirby and how one boy—who had friends, enjoyed reading, played saxophone in the band, and had never been in trouble before—became a monster capable of entering his school with a loaded gun and firing on his classmates.

Each chapter is told from a different victim's viewpoint, giving insight into who Kirby was and who he'd become. Some are sweet, some are dark; some are seemingly unrelated, about fights or first kisses or late-night parties.

This is a book of perspectives—with one character and one event drawing them all together—from the minds of some of YA's most recognizable names.