Review: I’m Thinking of Ending Things

I'm Thinking of Ending Things
I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Book #25 for 2017
The Legendary Book Club of Habitica’s Ultimate Reading Challenge: A book with an unreliable narrator or ambiguous ending
Personal Reading Challenge: A book about a road trip
Read Harder Challenge: A debut novel
Possible Book Bingo Square: A Book About Mental Illness
PopSugar Challenge:
– A book by or about a person who has a disability
– A book involving travel
– A book with an unreliable narrator

I’m thinking of giving this book two stars. I’m really not sure how to evaluate this book. I had the meat of the thing sussed out around page 25, and that’s the same page that clinched it for Tom, so that points to either sloppiness or an underestimation of the audience. Or both. From page 25 on, it was largely just watching the thing play out and yawning whenever Jake started getting overly philosophical. Reid has a gift for creepiness, though, because even though I already knew what was up, whenever he wanted me to be creeped out, yeah, I was well and thoroughly creeped out.

I have to be somewhat vague, or else this review would just be one big hidden spoiler, but I will try to explain my major gripes about the story.
1. The presentation of the neuroatypical person as a ticking time bomb. It’s bad enough that every time some white guy shoots up a place, the media focus is squarely on his autism or his bipolar disorder or whatever they want us to be scared of that week. But as one of those quiet loner types myself, I have to wonder, is this how the neurotypical world views me? ::sigh:: I suppose it is, and that is part of the point of the interludes of non-Jake dialogue, but it still feels like Reid’s promoting it more than not.
2. The “question” theme. It just felt too pat, and looking back post-gotcha, it was far too coherent.
3. The post-gotcha text doesn’t make sense in light of the non-Jake interludes. Unless this is some massive clue to an entirely different interpretation of the whole book — one that every review I’ve read has missed — it’s a huge plot hole.
4. The gender confusion issues. Reid broadly hinted at them being really important, but then he didn’t really do anything with them.

If I knew more about the authorial intent, I would have a better idea of how well Reid executed this. I could feel a lot of Jackson and Cormier influence, but the atmospheric manipulations were sometimes too transparent, and I found I resented them for being effective anyway. And even if it was meant to be just part of Jake’s character, the super-pretentious psychobabble got old fast. As it is, though, I have to wonder if that’s more Reid than Jake. And if so, what does that mean for the story? On the other hand, if all of this post-read rumination is what Reid was going for in the first place…. Gah. I’m getting to the point I don’t care anymore about Reid or Jake or his girlfriend or his parents. I’m giving the book two stars, and you’ll just have to decide for yourself what you think.

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