I have always enjoyed books with a psychological bent. Any good book requires that the reader is able to peek into the minds of the characters. This is especially true of books in which the mind is the story, as in Iain Reid’s I’m Thinking of Ending Things.
The book begins with an unnamed character, only known to the reader as the “girlfriend”, who is travelling with her boyfriend Jake to his parents farmhouse. She says that she is thinking of “ending things” with Jake. Post an uneasy lunch with Jake’s parents, Jake and the girlfriend set out for the drive back home during a snowstorm. They take a detour along the way and end up in an isolated school. At this point the book takes a turn.
I’m Thinking of Ending Things is not an easy book to review or recommend. It is the sort of book that will appeal to a specific sort of person.Depending on how comfortable the reader is with the unknown, they will either think that it’s clever and love it, or dismiss it as unintelligible and trash it. Even though it is called a thriller, it doesn’t have the pacing of one, and in the context of this book, that’s a good thing. A lot of the book is conversation, often philosophical. This may turn off readers who do not fancy intellectual discussions or those looking for something more action-packed.
That said, this book is a treat for people who like intellectual, philosophical books a psychological bent. For such readers, the end of the book is only the beginning, and they will find themselves re-reading the book in a whole new light.
A huge part of the reading experience is the atmosphere of something not being quite right. Imagine watching a horror movie–the moments just before the monster/slasher attacks, during which one holds one breath. The frustrated waiting for the inevitable, the knowing that something is going to go wrong. That is the sort of atmosphere that the book creates. There is no great fear that shocks, just a subtle sense of dread. Reid’s masterful writing conjures up the images that evoke this uneasiness and discomfort.
This book truly bent my mind. It was like walking through a maze in which the walls keep moving. For readers who don’t mind the shifting walls, I’m Thinking of Ending Things is the must read book of 2016.
I’m Thinking of Ending Things, published by Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books; is forthcoming on June 14th 2016.
FTC disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for this honest review.