Here she comes to save the day!!!
Theresa has delivered another well-written review for us and I just wanted to take a second to thank her.
Theresa, thank you for providing us with fresh content regularly (especially during this trying time in my personal life). You have been a lifesaver and I don’t know what I would do with out you. You are a wonder author and blogger but more importantly, you’re a wonderful friend.
I’m Thinking of Ending Things (Release Date: June 14, 2016)
“I’m Thinking of Ending Things is one of the best debut novels I’ve ever read. Iain Reid has crafted a tight, ferocious little book, with a persistent tenor of suspense that tightens and mounts toward its visionary, harrowing final pages” (Scott Heim, award-winning author of Mysterious Skin and We Disappear).
I’m thinking of ending things. Once this thought arrives, it stays. It sticks. It lingers. It’s always there. Always.
Jake once said, “Sometimes a thought is closer to truth, to reality, than an action. You can say anything, you can do anything, but you can’t fake a thought.”
And here’s what I’m thinking: I don’t want to be here.
In this “dark and compelling…unputdownable” (Booklist, starred review) literary thriller, debut novelist Iain Reid explores the depths of the human psyche, questioning consciousness, free will, the value of relationships, fear, and the limitations of solitude. Reminiscent of Jose Saramago’s early work, Michel Faber’s cult classic Under the Skin, and Lionel Shriver’s We Need to Talk about Kevin, I’m Thinking of Ending Things is an edgy, haunting debut. Tense, gripping, and atmospheric, this novel “packs a big psychological punch with a twisty story line and an ending that will leave readers breathless” (Library Journal, starred review).
Add to Goodreads
Before we get started, I just found out that this book will be made into a Netflix film with Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, & Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) set to direct it. If nothing else, you might want to get a jump start on the novel before the movie release…Now, on to the book review.
I’m going to be honest. I considered avoiding writing a review of this novel. Why? Because I have conflicting feelings about it. Usually I write up my take within a day or two of finishing a read. And I normally write up my reactions before consulting anyone else. Well, you might be glad (or not) that I did some skimming through of both Amazon and Goodreads reviews. One thing I can report is that readers either LOVE I’m Thinking of Ending Things or HATE it. Now, when I say hate it, I mean give it one star. (My heart goes out to Reid for that alone!) What’s the main complaint? Ironic in light of the title, but some readers loathe the ending. Some didn’t understand it, while others saw it coming from a mile away. Obviously I can’t tell you what that is, since it would be a spoiler. And, some of you are going to want to make up your own minds about this novel. Just know that you might end up throwing the book across the room when you’re done. (This could be tricky if you’re reading from a device, so be careful).
Let’s start with the positives. This book is a quick read. Not only is it short, but it was able to pull me in and keep me engaged. The story is told from the point of view of a girlfriend thinking of ending the relationship with her boyfriend, yet she goes on a road trip with him to meet his parents. One thing that Reid captures very well are the complexities of relationships and also communication. Much of the narrative is a history of the couple’s time together from their first meeting and up through the present. What I found most fascinating is the idea of what we say to another person and what is left unsaid. The same thing in regards to what we do versus what we don’t do. How many people have stayed in a relationship past its expiration date because they think things might change or their feelings might change? (I can admit to doing this on more than one occasion). Reid definitely captures those emotions. He also manages to have the characters discuss both the mundane as well as the deeply philosophical. This does not appeal to all people, so some readers might find themselves hitting the snooze button to stay awake. But that is a purely subjective thing. I, personally, enjoyed the philosophical banter, which made me wax a bit poetical. That’s just me.
What about the horror, you ask? There are lots of creepy elements to this story. Reid does a great job planting details that are unnerving. And his descriptions of circumstances and events are quick reading. However, not all of these elements are tied together at the end of the story. I’m not one that needs a conclusion with everything packaged in a neat bow. I’m okay with having to wonder and surmise. But I like to look back at a story or a movie and be like: ah, that’s what that was all about! When a writer plants a seed that connects with a later event or detail that I don’t see coming, that’s what blows me away and makes me enjoy it even more. I did do that with some things in Reid’s book, but there were also others he left dangling. Some might even accuse them of being red herrings. In the end, there were aspects that could have been explored/explained further. For me, this novel should have been fleshed out some more.
I didn’t walk away from I’m Thinking of Ending Things wishing I’d had my time back. In fact, it made me reflect on many aspects of a story—what works well and what might not. Also, the edition I read included discussion questions for a possible book club. This novel has value, but you need to be prepared for the possible fallout. I suggest reading it with a friend or a group to see what you get out of it. Chances are no one opinion will be exactly the same.