I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid

1. First lines. 2. Published 2016 Simon and Schuster Canada; Text Publishing 3. Winter blizzard [Public Domain] via Needpix 4. Cube Escher [Public Domain] via Needpix
Plot:

Jake is driving his girlfriend to meet his parents at the family home in a secluded country area. She is trying to decide whether to end the relationship. After a strained dinner with his parents, they start out for home in the middle of a snowstorm, but Jake takes a detour to a deserted high school, where his girlfriend finds herself alone and terrified. On the face of it, this is the story, but clues throughout the book indicate that something different is happening – the title is the first clue.

Quotes:

“The road is mostly empty. It’s quiet around here. Vacant.”

“I would rather get home and clean myself than spend however long driving deeper into these fields. Nothing makes sense. I want this to end.”

“I’ve never seen dead lambs before, other than on my plate with garlic and rosemary.”

My opinion:

Cleverly written. This seems like a straightforward story, but it’s a bit like an Escher drawing – what you read may not necessarily be what’s happening. As it progresses, the story takes on an increasingly sinister tone, due partly to suggestions of a brutal crime. Measured doses of oddities and strange behaviour add to the creepiness. A real page-turner.

The opinion of others:
  • New York Times: “Does the ending provide a solution for these brow-­furrowing choices? Yes, it does. But to my mind it is not a convincing one, neither does it live up to the novel’s stunning and startling opening. As in “The Sixth Sense,” there are clues here to be found. The ending doesn’t come out of thin air. But even after finding and identifying these truffles, most readers will be disappointed. The ending hastily disposes of unexplained and unnecessary red herrings, and the revelation is at once too tidy and too convenient to be satisfying.”
  • Kirkus: “Reid’s tightly crafted tale toys with the nature of identity and comes by its terror honestly, building a wall of intricately layered psychological torment so impenetrable it’s impossible to escape.”
Other editions:
Movie adaptation:

I’m Thinking of Ending Things is a 2020 American psychological horror film written and directed by Charlie Kaufman.


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