Thank you Edelweiss and HarperTeen for this ARC. All thoughts and opinions are mine.
Synopsis: "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? (Amazon)
Publication Date: March 17, 2020
Genre: Mystery / YA
Rating: 3 stars
***BEWARE POSSIBLE SPOILERS***
Years after her death, Agatha Christie continues to inspire murder-mystery novels, and years from now we will still see the legacy of her writing in other authors' works. While it doesn't stand out as a full retelling, All Your Twisted Secrets shows enough similarities to Christie's And Then There Were None to make it noteworthy. It was easily the hook that drew me to the story.
The premise is easy to grasp: six teenagers, who attend the same school and are connected—if not by friendship then certainly by past circumstances—are invited to dinner with the ruse of a $20,000 scholarship win, and become locked in not long after they all arrive. Soon after, tensions arise, secrets come out, and the six teens begin to turn against each other while racing against the clock to either choose one among themselves to kill, or succumb as one to the threat that is posed against them by the person that locked them in.
You can't help but race through this book, it's compulsively easy to read and entertaining. I appreciated the way that the chapters were set up, at once going into the past to show how characters related to one another depending on where they were in the present, while the clock counted down their hour locked together. But there's a usual sense of urgency that captures moments like these that I did not feel while I read this book. While it's a great novel with which to pass the time, I wasn't as invested in the characters' determination to get out as I should have been. Sure, yes, they are clearly aware that they need to escape, but there's a lot of repetition from them that something bad is going in, and it didn't really reach a high emergency level until halfway through the novel.
One of the best chapters in the story is the revelation that Sasha was the girl who bullied Maggie, Amber's sister, and who was inadvertently the reason why Maggie hit such a dangerous level of depression before ultimately committing suicide. It's such a sensitive topic, and was such a big part of Amber's life after her sister's death that the reaction it received was very well created. I don't know that Sasha deserved to die, herself, as a result of being a bully to Maggie—and then to Priya. She's an absolutely abhorrent human being, driven by pure selfishness that cannot be excused no matter what she may have lost on account of her accident. But death is such a final and harsh end to someone that has done such horrible things, it's almost as if she missed out on her true punishment.
The wrap-up of the story was alright, but nothing to be excited about. Amber's recounting of how she set everything up—while naming herself as the person who actually planned and executed the hour-long lockup of the other five teenagers—was overly long and full of details that were not always necessary. Even at the end, as she tells Diego and Priya that she's going to tell the police what she did, she goes on and on about why she's doing it and what the importance behind her actions are. This is part of the reason why some of the novel holds a casual tone rather than the necessary earnestness that it deserves: events are at times drawn out for longer than it is necessary.
I'm still a huge fan of this theme in mystery novels, and while All Your Twisted Secrets doesn't necessarily offer anything new, it's still a pleasant read.