I'm Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid
|I'm Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid|
|Reviewer: Stephen Leach|
|Summary: A tight and deliciously scary thriller unfortunately let down by an unimaginative ending.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Maybe|
|Pages: 214||Date: June 2016|
|Publisher: Text Publishing Company|
The unnamed Girlfriend is driving with her boyfriend Jake to his parent's farmhouse out in the country. True to the title, she's thinking about ending their relationship. But something seems a little off. When she meets his parents, the Girlfriend begins to think there's something not quite right about them. On their way back they stop outside an abandoned school, and that's when things get really frightening...
I told this plot summary to a friend last night, and the look on her face was priceless.
Yup, I clarified. It is exactly as terrifying as you're thinking.
Have I mentioned lately how much I love short books? Give me the choice and nine times out of ten I'll choose a thick 500+ page hardback (or even a 700+ page behemoth on occasion), but there's something comforting about a little book you can get through in a single day. It's a treat.
I'm Thinking of Ending Things is one of those books you simply have to finish in a single sitting, because you will not be able to set it down. Reid drags out the tension masterfully, ensaring you into the mystery, taunting you with the strange sensation that there's something going on you're not aware of, that dark corners and empty rooms are hiding horrifying secrets. I'm impatient at the best of times; I had to stop myself from pawing through all the pages, forcing myself to slow down and not skim-read.
Our two leading characters are deliberately quite opaque. Though we're inside the Girlfriend's mind, the glimpse we get of her is vague, and the more we learn about Jake the more it becomes obvious there's something we're missing. There's something both of them aren't telling the other, and the ambiguity heightens the tension as the Girlfriend wanders the deserted school corridors alone.
Horror is a genre that often relies on a good setting, and this book certainly has that. Just as big, empty Gothic mansions are a staple of English horror, there's something uniquely creepy about big empty American ranches, creaking wooden farmhouses, and big fields of tall corn, especially in the dead of night. There are some touches of visceral gore with the mention of bloodied corpses, but what feels most uncomfortable is the slight sense of madness we get from Jake's parents. Something is wrong, it's obvious, but what?
Sadly, whatever I expected from the ending, it wasn't what I got. The last twenty or so pages fell completely flat, and left me with all sorts of how-and-why questions, which took me right out of the story. I was convinced the author was hiding a clever reveal, but it didn't work for me: it was nonsensical, almost amateurish, the sort of thing you'd guess but not take seriously. A pity, because I was expecting to really love this book, and I very nearly did.
If horror and mystery is your favourite genre, then you'll probably enjoy this because of that; you might even like the ending. But I found it a very anticlimactic letdown, which spoiled the whole thing for me, and I can't see myself recommending it.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
You can read more book reviews or buy I'm Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy I'm Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid at Amazon.com.
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