Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Review: Violent Ends

Violent Ends
Edited by Shaun David Hutchinson
Expected publication September 1, 2015 by Simon Pulse

It's possible that Kirby Matheson's name is unfamiliar, but everyone will know it soon enough. This is the story of Kirby told by people who knew him and people who didn't. It's the story of Kirby before and it's the story of Kirby after - after he brings a gun to school and kills six people.

I'd heard a lot of buzz about this book for some time. It's a series of interconnected stories, written by a variety of authors, telling the story of a school shooting. I was intrigued by the concept and I think it's an important topic to examine, so I was pleased to see the e-galley available.

I expected to like this a lot more than I did and I actually find myself at a bit of a loss regarding what to say about it. Generally, I love books of interconnected stories - I think it's a fascinating narrative approach. I really liked its use here - getting the stories surrounding the school shooting through a variety of voices. And I really appreciated the wide variety of voices used in this collection - there is even a story from the point of view of the gun (maybe my favorite, certainly the most memorable of the collection). I liked discovering the degrees of connectedness to the central incident through each story - some of them surprised me quite a bit (I'm thinking of one in particular with a startling reveal at the very end that left me with significantly more questions than answers). But, as with all collections of stories, some are better than others. I appreciated the complex dimensions this book reaches - violent crime is a problem in our society, one that we often blithely choose to ignore in favor of personal freedoms, but it's a problem that needs to be discussed. I appreciated that this collection addressed the mixed emotions felt by all involved in a tragedy such as this - relief, guilt, confusion, anger, sadness, and many more. There are no easy answers here and I'm glad the book took that approach.

My main complaint about this is strictly due to my reading it in digital ARC form - the author names were not listed at the start of each story, so I couldn't tell who wrote what. Ultimately, it doesn't matter since the author wouldn't affect my feelings about the story, but I was far too lazy upon reaching the end to thumb back and figure out who wrote what. Obviously, this won't be a problem in the print version (I find it easier to flip back and forth in print than electronically), so this is really a non-issue for readers.

Overall, I thought this book was well-done but I'm not sure all of it was memorable enough to stick in my mind.

Thanks to the publisher for a digital advance reader's copy, provided via Edelweiss.

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