Which Wednesday: Books about School Shootings

Hey guys! Sarah here 😀

Me and Faith are going to be introducing a bi-monthly (or tri-monthly, depending on how long the month is) feature.

Drumroll please….

Which Wednesdays!

We’ll be comparing 2 books of a similar topic or genre, and in the end, giving you guys our opinion on which was better. Every Which Wednesday will have a theme, and to kick it off, this week is about school shootings. Morbid. I know.

which wednesday1

The two books I’ve chosen this week are Violent Ends and Crash & Burn. Both books deal with school shootings, a topic I’ve found interesting ever since 3 years ago (aka Sandy Hook). Ever since that horrifying shooting, guns, gun control and gunmen have been pushed to the forefront of discussions. While everyone watches school shootings as if they are train-wrecks (impossible to look away from), what’s even more fascinating is the urge to look inside the minds of the witnesses and perpetrators. Did the victims know they were going to die today? Did they know their would be executor? Did they know their murder was unhinged? Where were the warning signs? And, above all, why did the shooter kill them?

These are all questions people ask in an attempt to understand the mass murder of students, in a school (a ‘safe’ space). These books attempt to sate the reader’s curiosity… Let’s see how they measure out!

ROUND 1: Synopsis. (From Goodreads)


Honestly, both synopses look good.  Crash and Burn seems to be more focused on the relationship between the ‘hero’ and ‘villain’, while Violent Ends seems more focused on the overall effect, and fleeting snapshots of the lives of victims and friends.  I’d say it’s a tie (though if you think one synopsis was better, comment 😉 ).


ROUND 2: Style of Writing

One thing that I felt was that Crash and Burn was written by a guy for a guy. So obviously, as a female, I had a really hard time relating to the various events and the main character in general. But in terms of the order of events, Crash and Burn definitely does NOT have a linear or chronological order. Here’s the author’s writing plan as imagined by me:

graph mess

Forgive my horrible graphing skills… math was never my strongest suit 😉

Basically the orange part was the only part that dealt with the actual shooting. Everything else switched from the present to the past at light speed. I found it really hard to keep track of everything going on, so I can’t say I enjoyed it… but it was an interesting attempt at conveying the ADHD of the narrator. It also was very meta… the main character was writing a book about his experience. However, that didn’t really help my confusion.

Violent Ends is an anthology by many of the biggest names in YA, so no story really had the same characters. So if you find yourself attached to one character, you can say bye-bye to seeing them again. On the upside, if you hated a character, you would probably never read about them again. Also: since different authors= different styles, it was harder to get into, and harder to enjoy certain styles (for me, at least).

WINNER: Neither. Both writing styles are polarizing.

ROUND 3: Characters

I hated Crash. I mildly disliked Burn. I loathed every other character in that book. Why? Because everything was so effed up for no reason. Crash has ADHD. Crash’s dad was a jackass. His mom: a pushover. His big sister: a devil. His little sister might be the only person I could tolerate in real life. Burn is a genius (and either has ADHD or something like Crash). Burn’s dad died in 9/11. Burn’s mom is IDK. Burn’s sister is hella weird for no damn reason. Crash, the ‘hero’ of the story, was so polarizing, in my honest opinion. You either love him or hate him. You either relate to him or sit there in confusion wondering how he functions in his own presence.

Without spoilers, I’m going to say that Crash did a lot of things I didn’t agree with. If “it’s a portrait of the modern American teenage male, in all his brash, disillusioned, oversexed, schizophrenic, drunk, nihilistic, hopeful, ADHD-diagnosed glory”, then damn we’re all screwed.


Welp, nothing we Canadians can do about it…


But seriously.


Looking at you, America, with my smoldering Ian Somerholder eyes.

I mean, am I the only one concerned? Because I don’t think the publisher realized that all the words except for ADHD-diagnosed are generally negative. Juuuust saying.

Violent ends actually had the exact opposite problem. 17 authors, 17 characters, and not enough time to relate to anyone. I’d find myself finally warming up to a character, but then the chapter ends or they die. Or I’d find a character I loathed (plenty of them here as well) and nothing would happen to them.


I should probably go punch them myself.

In both cases, the biggest problem was that the characters could not get me to care. At all. I felt like an observer the whole time… nothing was keeping me attached to the characters. So once again…


ROUND 4: Setting/World building

Both books are set in the modern world, so the books didn’t really focus on world building. However, Crash and Burn started out from the 90’s to mid 00’s (the shooting took place in 2008/2009) so the throwbacks to the games and general pop culture were interesting. Violent Ends was also set in the present, but the chronological order varied from story to story, which was interesting as well.

I guess since I do not harbor any negative feelings to either…


ROUND 5: Originality/ Interest

Both books started out with new and interesting ideas, but failed to keep my interest, Whether it be issues with the characters or stylistic clashes, I. Was. Bored.

Answer: Verily.

WINNER: No one. Again. I’m sorry.

Final score: 2-2

Individual ratings:
Crash and Burn: 2 out of 5 stars
Violent Ends : 2 out of 5 stars

WHICH ONE : Neither.

Now that I think about it, this is a really bad way to end of a post about decisions… ahem. But both books do have their ups and downs, so someone other than me (aka, you, dear reader) might enjoy them. If anyone has read these before, I would love to hear your opinions on them!

And that’s the end of Which Wednesday, folks! Thanks for reading!

14 thoughts on “Which Wednesday: Books about School Shootings

  1. Jane Whittingham says:

    Another interesting book about the repercussions of a school shooting is The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen, by Susin Nielsen, which looks at the impact of a shooting on the family of the shooter, in particular a younger sibling. It one a Governor General’s award, which is a pretty big deal.

    Liked by 1 person

    • sublimereads says:

      Oh, yes, I remember reading that! XD It was for a province wide book club, and it was a big deal. It’s so weird, I never thought about it until you mentioned it. 🙂
      Hm. I guess now that book would be very relevant. What did you think of it?



  2. The Galaxial Word says:

    There’s a new book coming out next year that was about school shootings and I can’t quite remember the name of it right now. It’s a book with a picture of different coloured chalk on the front cover, being shot through. Wait I just remembered the name, it’s called “This Is Where It Ends”, and many reviewers gave it quite critical reviews, saying the world was portrayed in black and white, victims and killers.
    I love this idea of choosing two similar books and comparing them! I might do it soon 🙂 (Don’t worry, I’ll give credit :))

    Liked by 1 person

    • sublimereads says:

      Yeah, This is Where is Ends! Initially I wanted to compare that and Violent Ends, but it wasn’t out 😛 I’ve also heard that criticism… but I feel like I’ll read it anyway 😀
      OMGGGGG YEEESSSS I completely wanted to make this a meme (but I wasn’t sure if anyone wanted to pick it up). Go for it 🙂
      I can’t wait to see what you’ll compare! XD

      Liked by 1 person

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