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Recently I’ve gotten more into thrillers than I have done before, particularly with Karen M. McManus’ work and one of my favourite reads of 2019, A Good Girls Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson. So, when I heard about the release of All Your Twisted Secrets by Diana Urban I immediately added it to my anticipated reads list.
I was then lucky enough to be able to get my hands on an early copy with huge thanks to Harper360! Keep reading for my spoiler free review.
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?
Content warnings: suicide, overdose, bullying, child abuse, alcoholism, school shootings
The story opens with our protagonist, Amber. Within the first few lines she references listening to the Harry Potter score so I was winning already! Told in first person, we are dropped right into the plot. We meet the main characters in quick succession with the conflict occurring right away.
The chapters take turns switching between present day, counting down the bomb, and to the year leading up to the scholarship dinner. I really liked this approach. It meant that we could learn about the characters and their pasts in a way that wasn’t ‘info dumpy’, and it made the present day bomb situation much more tense. This dive right into the action also made this a very quick read.
With regards to diversity, there was an openly gay (side) character in a lesbian relationship and one of the main characters is Indian-American. Otherwise, as far as I could tell, there were no other canon diverse characters. Speaking of characters, as the blurb suggested they are very stereotypical high school types which sometimes felt a little trite. There was also lots of references to popular culture such as Fortnite and The Hunger Games for example.
I wanted to note that there are at least four uses (that I counted) of the word sp*z. This really shocked me and it definitely made me step back and consider my enjoyment of the story. I have only read an advanced copy so this may be edited prior to final publication.
I found the format to be very clever; the main conflict occurred in one room so the tension built swiftly. However, whilst the plot definitely intrigued me and I didn’t guess the ending or who was responsible, I couldn’t help but feel there was something lacking for me.
Perhaps I was missing the shock factor that I so desperately crave in these kinds of books? I also found that I struggled to form a close attachment to any of the characters, though I do find that quite a normal thing in thrillers, for me anyway.
If you’re looking for a fast paced mystery thriller read that cuts right to the action and will keep you guessing, then All Your Twisted Secrets by Diana Urban is the book for you. Though I do hope that the language used is looked at again prior to publication!
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