Edited By: Shaun David Hutchinson
Synopsis: 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.
Huge thank you to Simon Teen Canada for this ARC!
Have you ever read a book that physically affected you? Reading Violent Ends did that to me. It left me shaken and exhausted to the core. What’s worse in the novel hit a little too close to home for me at times, when you’ve been directly or indirectly affected by violence, it’s not an easy feeling to simply wish away.
Violent Ends is a unique beast. Written with seventeen different perspectives, it’s a book that revolves around one teen, and a horrific event that changes his community. What affected me in regards to this story was that I grew up with someone who later in life became a killer.
When I was reading the perspectives of the different characters in the novel, they all provided different versions of Kirby Matheson’s character: someone saw him as a loner, a loser, a great guy, an odd guy — you never feel like you truly know who he is, which I think is part of why this novel works and is so powerful. When we think of killers, we don’t always know the details as to why a crime is committed or how they eventually turned to commit an act. If you’re close to killer or knew them at some point, you can only envision what you know about them from past experiences, and sometimes the person you knew in the past is nowhere near the person they become later on in life. It makes the novel feel very mysterious in a lot of ways based on how each character perceives Kirby’s character, he comes across almost as though he is a chameleon.
Moreover, I loved how each story also manages to stand on its own two feet. Again, you have varying perspectives as some take place before the shooting, some weeks after, and sometimes you are getting the before, in the moment and after all at once. Each story has a boiling point, and it’s one that you know if going to happen, it’s just a simple question of when. I did enjoy that the book doesn’t label which author wrote which story. While some of the writers have a more distinctive style than others, the flow from story to story is well done, and sometimes I’d forget that I was reading a different author’s story because everything feels so inter-connected. If I had to pick favourites, I’d said they were “Miss Susie,” “The Perfect Shot,” “History Lessons,” and “Hypothetical Time Travel.” These four stories in particular stirred a lot of emotion in me, but I think all the stories as a collective are powerful.
Violent Ends will leave you breathless, as it will cause you to ponder the past. It’s terrifying, but thought-provoking. Getting the feelings of seventeen different characters and their perspectives on one event makes for an interesting writing experience, and I feel like this book does so much right in terms of the subject matter is shares. Violent Ends left me haunted, and pondering my past, and it certainly rocked me to my core.