You’ll be scared, but you won’t know why – that’s what I kept hearing people say about this book, and they weren’t wrong.
I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Canadian author Ian Reid follows a first person narrative of a young woman and her boyfriend driving on the road, headed towards the house of the boyfriend’s parents. On this drive, it becomes clear from the first line in the book that the girlfriend is thinking of ending her relationship with the boyfriend. Sounds harmless enough, right? It possibly even evokes expectations of some sort of rom-com or chick-lit plot – but you couldn’t be more wrong. From the first page onwards, things just get exponentially bizarre and creepier, more than you would ever think, and it keeps it up, right until the final page.
I can’t really say much else about this book without spoiling things, which is a real shame because I am dying to hear what others thought of it. All I can say is, hats off to Ian Reid for not only writing a book about a topic that is delicate and largely misunderstood by people, but also for writing about it in such an unbelievably clever and unique way. Not only that, but it was written well, too. I really don’t have any critique for it.
This book is short but packs a punch, and I pretty much read it in one sitting. It’s the kind of book where if you read it very carefully and picked up on all of the clues and interpreted them accurately, you might figure it out – but even careful readers might be challenged. I don’t know if I consider myself a careful reader – I don’t like to figure out the plot too much because sometimes I feel it ruins the reading experience for me, and sometimes I’d rather just enjoy the ride – but for this one, I really was trying to come up with a theory as to what was going on, but I wasn’t even close.
I guess my only critique is that it might be almost too clever for those readers who I know will read it, get to the end, and go ‘That was it?’ and not understand the amount of craft and skill involved in what they just read. Because to me, this isn’t one of those in-your-face, mainstream, dramatic thrillers where there’s lots of action and plot and cheap thrills that might satisfy a reader. To me, the appreciation and admiration for this book comes from the fact that it’s the complete opposite of that, and it’s more of a mind fuck than anything else.
And unlike those books with the cheap thrills and stock action and mainstream dramatics, I’m Thinking of Ending Things actually has re-read value. Honestly, I hardly ever re-read books – the only book I can think of that I’ve read more than twice (almost seven times actually) is my childhood favourite The Margaret Trilogy by Bernice Thurman Hunter. Other than that, books usually don’t affect me enough to want to re-read them. But this one will make you want to understand exactly what went on. It’ll make you want to figure it out, and I know once some more time has passed, I will be re-reading I’m Thinking of Ending Things – something I’ve truly never been able to say about any other book.
Basically, if you like well written books and well crafted stories and want a challenge, read I’m Thinking Of Ending Things – you won’t regret it.