The more we tell ourselves that we should always be happy, that happiness is an end in itself, the worse it gets.
While browsing in my local bookstore, I came upon I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid. The cover intrigued me:
I read the blurbs on the back. At the top, it said:
You will be scared. But you won’t know why…
Neat. After finishing the epic Pillars of the Earth, I was in the mood for a relatively short book. I grabbed this one, curled up on my couch in my darkened living room, and began to read it by lamplight (because scary stories are better when they’re read in the dark).
I’m Thinking of Ending Things begins from the perspective of a young woman who is thinking of ending things during a trip with her boyfriend to meet his family. They have philosophical and psychological discussions on this road trip. She thinks about the nature of relationships, her feelings for him, and her memories with him. Not exactly the usual foundation of horror.
But…something is a bit…off. The sentences are very short, like most thrillers. Propulsive. That style makes it feel like there is more going on than a decision about ending a relationship. Something dark. Something wrong. It’s unsettling.
Gradually, the tension builds, but it is unclear what the tension is building towards or where it’s coming from. Every interaction that the main character has is loaded with anxiety, uncertainty, and confusion. It’s not scary in a “jump scare” or supernatural predator way. It’s scary in the David Lynch Mulholland Drive way: everything is weird and uncanny. It’s creepy.
And then I was done. I finished reading the book in a single evening. If you’re up for something weird, thoughtful, not-full-of-action, creepy, philosophical, fast, and confusing, you should consider trying this out.
Stars: 4 stars