edited by Shaun David Hutchinson
reviewed by Emilie Nunn
In the thought-provoking thriller, Violent Ends, edited by Shaun David Hutchinson, seventeen different authors tell a story centralized around a tragic school shooting at Middleborough High, but the story is not about the shooting itself. From seventeen different perspectives, this novel explains how someone’s past can affect the person they become and how such tragic events impact a community and bring back old memories to those who knew the shooter. The authors illustrate how sweet, quiet, teenage saxophone player, Kirby Matheson, who has many friends, becomes such a “cold-blooded killer” and commits such a horrendous crime leaving five injured and seven dead, including himself.
Having seventeen diverse characters and points of view, the only consistent character in Violent Ends ends up being the shooter, Kirby Matheson. Kirby Matheson lives a fairly normal life growing up in a loving family, playing in the school marching band, going to summer camp, and going to dinner to play cards with friends. Kirby, being a caring friend and boyfriend, helps his dear friend to protect herself from an abusive, alcoholic father and even charms the girls in marching band, while bringing a smile and a delivering a kiss to one in particular. He is the thoughtful type of person who comforts those around him and stands up for them. He stands up for his friend from camp, Teddy, to the bullies who call him terribly cruel names. Then, he makes the choice to open fire at his high school on innocent students. In the end, the only semi-redeeming quality he acquires is the fact that he saves those that are near and dear to him, even if they were not always. For example, on the day of the shooting, he saves a cheerleader, who is also a former marching band member and friend, by telling her she deserves to stay home and take a break from all the diets and pressure her mother puts on her shoulders. Even so, he makes his once girlfriend go with him to a coffee shop, miles from school, and then leaves her there so she won’t get caught in the crossfire. He saves some, yet hurts so many.
The most unique aspect of this book is the fact that seventeen different authors wrote seventeen different chapters in seventeen different points of view. Each chapter explores a different person’s vivid memory or reaction of the shooter or the shooting. Having different authors and points of views for each chapter, every chapter has its own distinct tone and writing style that constantly refreshes readers. Some chapters may have an old childhood memory of a character resurface, filled with innocence and laughter. Other chapters may have a dark and somber storyline incorporating abuse or bullying or the dark-twisted past of others. One author in particular demonstrates the dark history of Kirby’s friend and her abusive father. The author uses second person, making the readers the abusive father. This acts as one example of how the authors’ magnificent, descriptive writing makes the readers feel a part of the story. Each chapter is filled with detailed imagery and different techniques depending on which author wrote it. Overall, this book is truly well-written with every detail that makes readers feel as if they are in the story themselves.