How do we know when something is menacing? What cues us that something is not innocent? Instinct always trumps reason.
Iain Reid takes readers on an enigmatic journey through back country roads and a desolate, deserted school in his debut fiction novel I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Jake meets his girlfriend, our narrator, at a bar one night- they strike up a conversation and really hit it off. Or do they?
I think a lot of what we learn about others isn’t what they tell us. It’s what we observe. People can tell us anything they want.
Plagued with doubt and reservation, our narrator joins Jake on a trip deep into the woods to his parents home. Along the way they disscuss number of deep, philosophical topics which enrich the plot and deepen the characters.
Depression is a serious illness. It’s physically painful, debilitating. And you can’t just decide to get over it in the same way you can’t just decide to get over cancer. Sadness is a normal human condition, no different from happiness. You wouldn’t think of happiness as an illness. Sadness and happiness need each other. To exist, each relies on the other, is what I mean.
“I’m thinking of ending things.” Is a recurring introspection as our narrator contemplates the merit of a smile, a meeting, a journey.
Are small, critical actions enough? Small gestures make us feel good- about ourselves, about others. Small things connect us. They feel like everything. A lot depends on them. It’s not unlike religion and God. We believe in certain constructs that help us understand life. Not only to understand it, but as a means of providing comfort. The idea that we are better off with one person for the rest of our lives is not an innate truth of existence. It’s a belief we want to be true.
The plot takes a terrifying turn that inverts the readers original assumptions- heart racing, palms sweating, breath quickening. Panic increases rapidly and just when it seems insuperable it increases ten-fold.
We can’t and don’t know what others are thinking. We can’t and don’t know what motivations people have for doing the things they do. Ever. Not entirely. This was my terrifying, youthful epiphany. We just never really know anyone. I don’t. Neither do you.
When circumstances couldn’t be more inauspicious, our narrator spirals into psychological turmoil.
I know people talk about the opposite of truth and the opposite of love. What is the opposite of fear? The opposites of unease and panic and regret? I’ll never know why we came to this place, how I ended up confined like that, how I ended up alone. It wasn’t supposed to happen like this. Why me?
The perfect mixture of tension and paradox- full of twists and turns I’m Thinking of Ending Things will grab on tight and not let you go until the final page is read and even then it may linger just a bit longer.
There’s only one question to resolve. I’m scared. I feel a little crazy. I’m not lucid. The assumptions are right. I can feel my fear growing. Now is the time for the answer. Just one question. One question to answer.
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A review copy was provided by Gallery, Threshold, Pocket books an imprint of Simon & Schuster via Netgalley.