Title: I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 224 pages
Book Rating: C+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss
You will be scared. But you won’t know why…
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 smart, suspenseful, and intense 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 pulls you in from the very first page…and never lets you go.
The title of Iain Reid’s debut novel, I’m Thinking of Ending Things, is certainly attention-grabbing. The book summary is very intriguing. A good portion of the story is quite creepy and suspenseful. However, the novel ends with a very unexpected plot twist that is somewhat confusing.
Narrated by Jake’s unnamed girlfriend, I’m Thinking of Ending Things opens with the couple driving to Jake’s parents’ farm for a “meet the family” dinner. Despite her appreciation for many of Jake’s qualities, she is unsure about the future of their relationship so she is very contemplative as she reminisces about their six week (ish) romance. Some of her memories spark topics to talk about during their trip and these conversations veer wildly between mundane subjects and philosophical discussions.
Jake’s girlfriend’s unease continues to grow throughout the trip and she becomes somewhat alarmed upon their arrival at the isolated and somewhat rundown farm. Although Jake’s parents are nice, the dinner is uncomfortable and while she cannot quite put her finger on it, something about Jake and his parents seems off. Eager to put the entire trip behind her, she and Jake depart only to make an unexpected detour to an isolated and vaguely sinister high school.
I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid is very atmospheric with plenty of tension and an overall feeling of unease. While the unfolding story is incredibly compelling, the narration occasionally gets bogged down in stream of consciousness passages that are sometimes bizarre and oftentimes repetitive. Strange occurrences, frightening memories and brief chapters from unspecified sources are a pretty fair indication that a horrible tragedy is about to occur, but exactly what the tragedy is remains a mystery. The novel concludes with an incredibly shocking plot twist, but the final chapters are somewhat bewildering and readers might come away feeling a little dissatisfied since there are quite a few unanswered questions.
Although I’m Thinking of Ending Things might not appeal to all readers of the genre, it is still an enthralling mystery that is well-written with a very unique spin on the unreliable narrator plot device.