Published by HarperTeen on March 17th 2020
Genres: Mystery, Thrillers, Young Adult
This thrilling debut, reminiscent of new fan favorites like One of Us Is Lying and the beloved classics by Agatha Christie, will leave readers guessing until the explosive ending.
Welcome to dinner, and again, congratulations on being selected. Now you must do the selecting.
What do the queen bee, star athlete, valedictorian, stoner, loner, and music geek all have in common? They were all invited to a scholarship dinner, only to discover it’s a trap. Someone has locked them into a room with a bomb, a syringe filled with poison, and a note saying they have an hour to pick someone to kill … or else everyone dies.
Amber Prescott is determined to get her classmates and herself out of the room alive, but that might be easier said than done. No one knows how they’re all connected or who would want them dead. As they retrace the events over the past year that might have triggered their captor’s ultimatum, it becomes clear that everyone is hiding something. And with the clock ticking down, confusion turns into fear, and fear morphs into panic as they race to answer the biggest question: Who will they choose to die?
There’s something about a young adult mystery/thriller that I just can’t resist, even though I’ve found them a bit hit and miss in the pass. From the ever-popular One of Us is Lying to We Were Liars and A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder these books always seem to get rave reviews, and I always get drawn in to the promise of an addictive, quick read that’ll keep me guessing from page one and desperate to know how it ends. I guess it should come as no surprise then, particularly given my love for shows like Riverdale and How to Get Away with Murder, that when I saw the blurb for All Your Twisted Secrets, I knew I had to request it.
Described often as The Breakfast Club meets [insert other title here], and as perfect for fans of Agatha Christie, All Your Twisted Secrets is a locked room murder mystery. Six students with seemingly little in common are invited to the same scholarship dinner, only to find when they get there that they have an hour to choose someone to kill, or they all die. As premises go, it’s pretty explosive, and it promised plenty of drama and nail-biting intensity, as you try to figure out what the students will do and how it will end, but also who set up such a mad scheme to start with, and why. The writing style and the drama of the plot were two real strengths here; it’s definitely a book that had me flying through, hooked on every page and desperate to piece together what was happening, and I read it start to finish in one setting because I just HAD to know. The story flicks back and forth between two timelines, the hour inside the dinner, and the time building up to that, and that format worked really well I thought. As gripping as the story was, I thought the ending was both predictable AND unbelievable at the same time – I think if you read many thrillers or mysteries, you may well feel the same way.
The book tackles some important issues, from bullying to teen suicide, from friendship fall outs to college choices and the conflict between choosing the high school sweetheart or the childhood dreams. I thought they were generally well handled, and Urban mostly does a really good job of showing that poor choices don’t make someone (particularly not a teenager!) a bad person. Where so often everything is portrayed as black and white, right or wrong, I think it’s really important to show that sometimes good people make bad choices, and that the world, as Sirius says, isn’t divided into good people and Death Eaters. Having said that, I found it really odd that Urban then chose to make one of the bullying characters such a cliche who seems to show no remorse. In fact, the characters didn’t work for me at all – the stereotype descriptions given in the blurb are pretty much all the characters are. They haven’t just been summed up like that to make it fit neatly in a couple of sentences that they have nothing in common, they really seem to have no other interests or personality traits. I found them pretty much all flat and two-dimensional, and while I wanted to know what happened, that was just for curiosity’s sake rather than because I cared about any of the characters.
Buy it? This is a library choice for me.
In a nutshell: A quick addictive read, perfect for mystery fans, but not if you’re someone who can’t love a book without caring about the characters.