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Violent Ends Hardcover – September 1, 2015
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From the instant New York Times bestselling author of blockbuster thrillers "In a Dark, Dark Wood" and "The Woman in Cabin 10" comes Ruth Ware’s chilling new novel, "The Lying Game." See more
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From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Seventeen chapters, each from a different point of view, tell the story of Kirby Matheson, a teenager who walks into school and opens fire on a pep rally before committing suicide. Narrators vary from those close to Kirby, like his sister, to more removed observers, such as his childhood next-door neighbor. While readers never enter Kirby's mind, his environment, upbringing, family, and social interactions breathe life into his character. He is dynamic, at times sympathetic and loyal, while also angry, lashing out or isolating himself. Kirby's various relationships emphasize his humanity and help to avoid stereotyping him as a pure villain. Each chapter becomes a window, slowly revealing what, perhaps, could have driven him to such a heinous act. Ultimately, no concrete reason is defined. Motive is left for teens to determine after exploring Kirby's experiences with bullying, family drama, and the suggestion of a predatory teacher. Although each chapter is written by a different already established YA author, the narrative is cohesive. Using different voices opens a dialogue on a topic that is too often prevalent in young people's lives. Kirby's story is one of how instead of why. VERDICT A fresh and thought-provoking take on a disturbing but relevant topic.—Carrie Fox, South Park High School, PA
“Provocatively and effectively illustrates the multidimensionality of someone considered to be a monster.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“A fresh and thought-provoking take on a disturbing but relevant topic.” (School Library Journal)
“These stories humanize a troubled teenager, as well as the people who hurt him along the way, but the authors don’t let anyone off the hook, Kirby least of all.” (Publishers Weekly)
*** “The storytelling is wonderfully intense and distinctive on such a difficult, tragic topic. Readers will be captivated, not wanting to put the book down, but also needing a break due to the extremely engaging, emotionally charged content of characters’ feelings and thoughts.” (VOYA, starred review)
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Top customer reviews
Well, I shouldn't have worried. Because Shaun Hutchinson and seventeen of the most talented writers in YA have teamed up to share the puzzle pieces of Kirby's life with insight provided by friends and classmates, who were both intimately and broadly acquainted with him. Through each story, we get a little closer to just what could have possibly drove Kirby to this end.
While each of the stories stand on their own merit, it doesn't seem fair to judge them individually. So I'll just say that in terms of the whole picture, each story adds a piece to the puzzle that is Kirby, showing just why this young man has been driven to these violent ends.
Each story ultimately asks, and sometimes outright challenges the reader, to ask the question of just what - if anything - could have been done differently to prevent this tragedy from happening. While the temptation is to just write Kirby off as a homicidal monster, something that Beth Revis's main character struggles with in "Violent Beginnings", we see accutely through stories of possibility denied like "The Girl Who Said No" by Trish Doller, or the gentle and painful truths of "Feet First" by Margie Gelbwasser, that this was a young man with complexities and challenges reinforcing his humanity, but also making the end result all the more troubling.
While Violent Ends is a challenging, and often times painful read, it's also a welcome and much needed-look at a reality that has unfortunately become more and more commonplace.
Violent Ends is an important book in all respects, but especially for younger readers. Sure to provoke a lot of conversation and discussion, and I would like to introduce this book - with care - to the young readers in my life.
Who is Kirby Matheson? The boy who befriended bullied kids? The kid who tried to protect you? Your victim? The oddball? The loner? The boy you who was once your friend? Your secret crush? The unpopular kid with whom you couldn't be seen? The kid with a gun? The monster? The shooter? Your brother?
VIOLENT ENDS tells the story of seventeen people who knew Kirby at different periods in his life and in different capacities. Each chapter is written by a different YA writer, each one of the seventeen POVs written in either first or third person, each a fascinating glimpse into Kirby. I devoured this unique novel in one sitting, eager to understand why this kid became a killer.
Of course, there are no easy answers, no real answers at all. Armchair psychologists, media, jurors and peers can theorize, but because Kirby died and we don't get his POV, there can never be real answers. I never saw him as a monster or a victim, but as a kid trying to find his place in his world. Acceptance. Friends. Esteem. An introvert who lived more in his head than among others, unskilled at asking for what he needed. The seventeen flawed narrators let him down in small and large ways, deliberately and by omission, recognized or denied their contribution to who Kirby became in varying degrees.
Yes, Kirby pulled the trigger, but he did not become Kirby-The-School-Shooter in a vacuum.
I didn't want VIOLENT ENDS to end. I wanted more from each narrator (except the gun), more backstory and more of what happened in the aftermath. I would love sequels in the separate POVs (a series?) because I was that interested. Collaborator/Editor Shaun David Hutchinson can you make this happen? Please?
My only tiny criticism is that I was a little confused in who lived, died and who knew who. If each chapter had had the narrator's name and disposition, that might have helped?
THEMES: violence, school shooting, family, friends, bullying, short-stories, peer pressure
VIOLENT ENDS is an important book that should be read by teens, their parents and their teachers. It would be a great classroom read for English, Psychology or Sociology classes. It's so good I'm about to reread, even though I have another book I can't wait to read in the queue.