book review

Want to be thoroughly creeped out by a book? Try ‘I’m Thinking of Ending Things’ by Iain Reid

imthinkignofI’m Thinking of Ending Things. Iain Reid. Gallery/Scout Press. June 2016.

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 deeply suspenseful and irresistibly unnerving debut novel, a man and his girlfriend are on their way to a secluded farm. When the two take an unexpected detour, she is left stranded in a deserted high school, wondering if there is any escape at all. What follows is a twisted unraveling that will haunt you long after the last page is turned.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll know I’m completely obsessed with creepy books! Because I read so many psychological thrillers, I’m starting to find that I don’t scare all that easy, and I’ve been on the hunt for something to genuinely terrify me. Guys, I found that book!

I became aware of this novel a couple of months ago when I saw Trang’s review over at Bookidote, and I’ve been desperate to read it ever since. I waited impatiently for its UK release, and when I downloaded it on my Kindle a couple of days ago, I was mildly horrified that I was paying over £7 for an ebook, but confident it was going to be worth every penny. I wasn’t disappointed!

I’m Thinking of Ending Things is one creepy-ass book. It’s been a while since I found something fictional so utterly unsettling. And as the blurb promises, I was scared from the very beginning, but I didn’t know why until the very end! That sounds impossible, but it’s true.

The writing style was simple, yet mesmerizingly atmospheric. Every word was chosen so perfectly as to be loaded with menace. I was completely creeped out, even by the most ordinary things. Because everything does start off relatively normally – a woman (whose name we do not learn) and her boyfriend Jake are driving to his parent’s farmhouse, where she’s going to meet them for the very first time. As they’re driving along down badly lit roads, surrounded by nothing but farmland and the gradually darkening sky for miles around, all Jake’s girlfriend can think about is ending their relationship. None of this is directly scary, but there’s such a weird, off-kilter feeling and the sense of wrongness only intensifies throughout the novel.

A lot of the story is told through the thoughts of Jake’s girlfriend, her memories, and the dialogue between her and Jake, so there isn’t much direct action (until the end… oh boy!) but somehow that didn’t make the book any less gripping. There are some parts you might find quite slow if you’re all-about-the-action… Jake’s girlfriend does a fair amount of philosophizing about their relationship, and about the concept of ‘being alone’ versus ‘being with another person forever’, amongst other complex dichotomies. However, I found these parts really interesting! It’s a book which makes you think about human nature – why we are the way we are. It explores doubt and fear and longing – the things which make us human – in all of their uncomfortable complexity.

For me, this novel was perfectly paced. It’s a short read (roughly 200 pages) and I finished it in a single sitting. The creepiness and wrongness is relentless, and it builds and builds until it’s so unbearably creepy and wrong I was literally hiding behind my blanket and jumping out of my skin every time somebody came into the room in a totally cool and casual fashion.

Despite the fairly ordinary first few chapters, normality rapidly becomes a tiny dot on the horizon, swallowed up with the shrinking sun. Genuinely creepy things start to happen… unnerving nonsensical occurrences and coincidences, combined with the inexplicably weird way Jake’s parents behave (which made me increasingly more uncomfortable the longer Jake and his girlfriend spent at the farm – I was internally screaming at them to get out of that house and back on the road!), left me physically incapable of putting the book down! I really didn’t know what was going on, or what was around the next corner, and the anxious tension and mystery of it all kept me up way past my bedtime.

Something which added to the unsettling feeling of wtf-is-going-on was that at the end of each chapter, we’d get an excerpt from a conversation about something horrific that has taken place. We don’t know who is having the conversation – the characters are unnamed – and we don’t know what’s happened, but we gradually get drip fed the details. Because I didn’t understand the context of the conversation, or how it related to the main plot thread (until the end of the book), it was jarring and unsettling, and I spent most of the book terrified of finding out.

The climax of the book has got to be one of the most terrifying, disturbing, and heartbreaking sequences I’ve ever read. I really didn’t see it coming. It was so very, very clever. Maybe it was staring me in the face all along, I don’t know, but I’m tempted to go back and read it from the beginning now that I know. I’m so, so impressed with the execution of this fantastic novel.

I can’t really say anything else about the plot because I really don’t want to give anything away – the less you know the better. All I can say is that if you’re looking for a book to scare the crap out of you, which is addictive, and which makes you think, you must check this one out ASAP!


43 thoughts on “Want to be thoroughly creeped out by a book? Try ‘I’m Thinking of Ending Things’ by Iain Reid”

  1. I love a good psychological thriller. This is definitely one we’ll need to check out! Great review. 😀 If you have any other psychological thriller recs, we’d love to know. We’ve read GONE GIRL, BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP, DANGEROUS GIRLS, THE MERCILESS (more horror but still great!) and a few others. 🙂

    1. Thanks so much! Ooh please do 🙂 Highly recommend this one if you love psychological thrillers, it’s one of the best I’ve read! I loved Gone Girl and Before I Go To Sleep too 🙂 I haven’t read the other two but I’m going to check them out now! I also love horror so if you have any recommendations I’d love to hear them! 🙂 For psych thriller recs, I would really recommend You by Caroline Kepnes, Night Film by Marisha Pessl, The Ice Twins by S.K. Tremayne, any of Mark Edwards’ books (especially The Magpies), any of C.L. Taylor’s books (especially The Lie). Out of all of those, Night Film is my absolute favourite 🙂

  2. I’ve been looking for some good thrillers! I’ve been trying to dip my toes in that genre, but unfortunately what I’ve read hasn’t been good at all. I’ll definitely keep this in mind!

    1. Ooh please do! Which books have you read in this genre? It’s definitely a genre that is very hit or miss! I have read an awful lot of rubbish thrillers, but this one was head and shoulders above the rest 🙂

      1. Honestly, they were so terrible that I don’t even really remember what they were called. I do a recent one was The Graces.

  3. Might have to look this book up some more, I’ve gradually been getting into creepy books (I mean, I’m reading one called “The Creeper Man” now so that says it all) so I’d love to find more! Lovely review! 🙂 Glad you enjoyed it.

    1. Thank you so much!! 🙂 Ooh please do, this one was definitely very creepy! And omg, I really want to read The Creeper Man – was it good? It looks really awesome. I haven’t read any of Dawn Kurtagich’s books yet, but they look right up my street!

      1. It was great, it’s a new favourite of mine! I’ve got reviews for both The Creeper Man and The Dead House on my blog if you’re intrigued, but basically I adore them both haha!

    1. Haha aww if you don’t want to be creeped out then I would agree it’s best for you to avoid this one 😛 I don’t scare all that easy with books, but this one terrified me!

  4. What a great review! (And as always, with an awesome title, haha). I typically don’t read these kinds of books, but I feel like I should read more of them. This sounds so good, I’ll have to check it out!

    1. Aw thank you so much 🙂 If you’re looking to read more in the genre, this would be a great place to start, as it was really well written and just a fantastic book in general! I never used to read books like this at all, but once I started I couldn’t stop – they’re so addictive 🙂

  5. It sounds amazing and a nice quick but satisfying read – I want to know the ending just from your review! ….but £7 for an eBook 😷😱😨🤔

    1. I know, it was steep haha, but I was so desperate to read it, I just had to deal with the blow to my bank balance lol. And I can tell you the ending when I see you on Saturday if you like 😛

  6. I read Trang’s review, and then I read a few other reviews of this book – and I’m pretty convinced I need to read this book now. I’m positive I’d be creeped out, but I need to experience it 🙂

    1. Oooh please do! It was a very creepy book (at least I found it so!) – I can’t wait to see what you think if you decide to read it! I really want more people to discuss this book with 🙂

  7. Um. I had anxiety just reading this review. I’m not sure I’m ready for this book if I’m this bad just reading a review! Man I’ve turned into such a wuss!

    1. Aww I’m so sorry my review caused you anxiety! You read lots of Stephen King – I definitely wouldn’t call you a wuss haha 🙂 It’s a different kind of creepy to traditional horror though I guess… it’s more subtle and harder to detect why it’s so creepy. I was majorly unsettled while I read it!

  8. OMGG YOUVE READ IT AHHA ❤ Im so happpyy that you loved it too!! AND THAT ENDING THOUGH?! LETS TALK ABOUT IT Im just soo excited t osee someone liking a book I recommended or reviewed ahha 😀 !! -TRANG

    1. Thanks so much for reviewing it and helping me to discover it in the first place!! 🙂 I know the ending was a shocker – I honestly didn’t see it coming at all. I really want to re-read it so I can go back and see all the clues leading up to it. I was SO TENSE during the whole scene in the school!! Did you have any other theories whilst you were reading it? Mine were way off!!

  9. Just downloaded this based on this and a few other bloggers’ reviews! I LOVE a good mystery and I’m so intrigued by all the ambiguous reviews, so I can’t wait to see what happens. Thanks for the rec! 😊 x

    1. Ahh awesome!! 🙂 So happy you’re giving this one ago. Haha it’s a really hard book to review, you have to be sooo vague! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did, can’t wait to see what you think! 🙂 x

      1. I finished it and OHMYGOD WHAT. Haha! I really enjoyed it but it gave me massive heebie jeebies. Such head fuckery! Lucky I like that sort of thing in books haha. Will definitely be a difficult one to review. 😊 Thanks for the rec! X

      2. Ahhh yay I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Indeed, it was a total mindfuck of a book. I really didn’t see that ending coming and my mouth was basically hanging open. I’m glad I’m not the only one who experienced the heebie jeebies – I was really worried people who read it after my review would be like ‘this isn’t scary’ – it really creeped me out though! Can’t wait for your review! 🙂 x

    1. Thanks so much! 🙂 And yay, please do! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!! Look forward to seeing what you think if you decide to give it a go!

  10. Brilliant review! I read this recently too and I was strangely unsettled throughout the entire book which was odd for me because I never get creeped out by books. There was something about it that stopped me from loving it completely, but I really did enjoy how unique and psychological it was.

    1. Thanks so much!! 🙂 Yes it was unusual for me too, as it seems to take a lot to creep me out these days haha! What do you think it was about the book which stopped you from totally loving it?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s