I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Author: Iain Reid
Length: 5.5 hours
Narrator: Candace Thaxton
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Original Publication Date: 2016
Genre(s): Adult fiction, Suspense, Horror
“I’m thinking of ending things. Once this thought arrives, it stays. It sticks. It lingers. It dominates. There’s not much I can do about it. Trust me. It doesn’t go away. It’s there whether I like it or not. It’s there when I eat. When I go to bed. It’s there when I sleep. It’s there when I wake up. It’s always there. Always.”
Jake is taking his girlfriend home to meet his parents. But what he doesn’t know is that she’s thinking of ending things. She’s not sure why she’s doing this—making it seem like she’s ready to further their relationship—when she’s thinking of ending it. Perhaps it’s curiosity. Perhaps she wants to find more of those little moments where she remembers why she’s so attracted to Jake. Either way, none of it is what she was expecting.
I wasn’t supposed to read this book. And by that, I mean I’d never heard of it before this week. It was not on my TBR. I was already listening to another audiobook when I came across this review on Goodreads for the novel. I read the review (minus the spoiler part at the end) and instantly knew I had to read the novel. And I didn’t want to wait. The audiobook I was already listening to had a slow start and was not capturing my interest enough to keep me awake at work. I knew I’m Thinking About Ending Things would probably do a better job—and it’s super short, so that’s a bonus for me at this point in the year.
The novel follows Jake and his girlfriend on a trip to see Jake’s parents. The whole time you’re reading, you’re on edge—but you don’t really know why. I mean, there are obviously creepy things—like the narrator’s story about the creepy man or the strange calls she keeps receiving—but those aren’t enough to give you true anxiety and suspense. Everything else about the story is just weird enough for you to be anxious or on edge, but you don’t really know why—and you don’t know when something bad is going to happen. It’s an extremely tense novel—at least, it was for me. I don’t read or watch a lot of horror because I struggle with anxiety in my life—I don’t really need anxiety from television or film or novels. But sometimes the story just sounds captivating enough that I have to try. And this one was tough for me. I liked it because it was quiet horror. Nothing was inherently scary or gory or horrifying. But my anxiety was present for the entire story and after finishing it, I still have that pit of dread in my gut. Whether a book is objectively good or not doesn’t always matter to me. If it can make me really feel something—like this anxiety—then it’s pretty good in my mind.
I did not fully understand the twist at the end. Not a whole lot really happens in this novel until close to the end, which a lot of people disliked. As I said, because I knew something was wrong and kept expecting something bad to happen, it was fast-paced for me despite the “boring” plot. When the twist comes, I sort of got lost. The audiobook helps a bit with the twist—I won’t say how or why, just iykyk—but I still didn’t really “get it.” After finishing the novel, I had to read some Goodreads reviews and Q&As to find out more about it. It makes a lot more sense, now. The whole novel does, really. And it’s quite brilliant. Still very weird, still confusing, but brilliant. I won’t say I’m still not curious about some things that I felt were unanswered or didn’t make sense. Honestly I’m hoping the Netflix movie will answer those things for me. But again, even with the ending, I’m still very much a fan of this story. Things don’t have to add up for me to have liked a novel.
I know this one isn’t for everyone. In fact, I’m not really sure who to recommend this to. Perhaps people who enjoy unending suspense? Psychological thrillers? Philosophical narratives? Unreliable narrators? I don’t know. It’s so short, I’ll just say you should simply read it to find out if you like it or not. Despite the anxiety I can’t seem to shake, I really did enjoy this novel. It definitely helped me through these two slow work days, and I’m excited to watch the Netflix adaptation during my holiday time off. I’m not sure if I’ll listen to the advice we’re given at the end of the book to read it again backwards (might be annoying via audiobook), but I have to say it might be an interesting thing to try in a year or two when I forget the little details about the story. I think there are plenty of things I didn’t even realize during my first time reading (like how we don’t know our narrator’s name???? How did I not notice that????) Maybe I’ll have to do a re-read sooner than I thought.