Hello, hello! This review is… a bit of a let down, I suppose, when compared to my others recently. lol sorry.
Customary warning: This is a reminder that these are my personal opinions. My thoughts and feelings are not your thoughts and feelings. I may not always be the target audience for a book; sometimes I am. If I do not like a book, that doesn’t mean you’ll dislike it. If I love a book or simply like a book, you may hate it. Take everything I say with this knowledge. If it sounds interesting to you despite what I’ve said, then go ahead and read it. You’ll only know you like something if you read it yourself.
That being said… Spoilers ahead.
All Your Twisted Secrets by Diana Urban
Synopsis From The Book
“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?
Mystery | YA – PW |Suicide, Bullying, Cyberbullying, Murder, Drug Abuse | Standing Up One Self, Lies and Truth, Identity
Initial Thoughts Before Reading:
Alrighty Tighty. I’m doing it again folks. I’m reading this novel with less than 24 hours before my book club. Can I do it? Easily. Do I want to? Well… I didn’t intend for this to happen. It just did. And that is my mistake. My awful, awful mistake. I shoulda read it on Friday, but apparently sleeping was more important. GOODNESS. Well here we go. A mystery and a thriller all in one. Flipping through shows me that there is no consistency to the narrative linear time so GG me. Lets do this!
Initial Thoughts After Reading:
Uhhh soooo… yeah. That was a book that happened. WOW okay. This is a lot to unpack.
Amber is driven by her boyfriend Robbie to a scholarship dinner where they meet with four others: Diego, Sasha, Priya, and Scott. They are supposed to be getting a scholarship for schools in the future, instead all the doors lock and they are served a bomb, a syringe, and note that says they have an hour to decide who will die or else the bomb goes off. Hell breaks lose between all of them. They try to figure out how to get out, but there is no way, and slowly they begin talking on who could have locked them in there and hated them that bad. Sasha tries to kill Scott with the syringe, and all the truths come tumbling out.
At the end of Junior year Priya and Amber decide to become friends with Sasha. For Priya its a way onto the cheer team. Sasha and Amber speak and Amber gets the chance to score the next school play: Romeo and Juliet. In time the girls grow closer and many things happens. Priya tries to do everything that she can to get into Sasha’s good graces, including stealing test scores, but ultimately fails. Sasha bullies her and priya quits both her and Amber. Robbie and Amber start dating, start deciding on schools and Robbie is adamant about Amber following him to Atlanta so he can do his baseball scholarship. Diego is beaten down by Sasha at every turn because she exploits things to get ahead. Scott sells Sasha drugs and she blackmails him. Amber helps Sahsa out but then learns she has to score musical numbers, brings alcohol to parties and dances for Sasha and after everything, she finds out Sasha is only using her and manipulating her.
In real time more fighting happens. Sasha tries to convince them to kill anybody but her. Amber is revealed to like Diego. They draw straws to decide who will die, and Priya gets the short stick. It is revealed that Sasha was one of the bullies that harassed Amber’s sister to the point of death (Amber thought it was Sasha’s sister). After a tussle, and a minute left, the syringe is used but no one dies. Sasha freaks out and tries to kill Amber, but Priya stabs her first. Sasha dies. The cops come and Amber reveals she was the one who decided to do this, because she wanted to get back at Sasha for being such a bully, but no one was supposed to die.
Open ending on what will happen to Amber.
What I Liked:
Non-linear; I think I liked this part the most, seeing how the older story worked with the current story, to reveal what happened as we move forward.
Sasha; I loved her the most of the characters because of how bad she was, dedicated to getting her own justice, and hurting others. She was a terrible person, but I thought the best of the characters.
Amber; She was a good girl, a bit boring, but not a horrible character. Her truamas and dreams pushed her forward to make her a interesting character at least.
Priya; I don’t feel like we got a lot about her, for her being Amber’s so called best friend. We saw the abuse from Sasha to her, and I totally support her dropping all the toxicity in her life, however I don’t think I knew her.
Deigo; I liked him. Didn’t know really much about him to like him too much. He was a genius nerd kid, is how I feel, and sweet and the opposite of Robbie.
Scott; Other than Sasha, I really liked him. He was the standard druggy character, only he refused to give the kids drugs that were big name drugs (like how Sasha wanted Meth.) I wish I got to know so much more about him because his life and history seems so interesting, for what we get.
Robbie; I really liked him, and also hated him all at once. He was redeemable but also not, and I really don’t know what he saw in Amber, if we are being honest. He really wanted to make the relationship work, just went about it in the wrong way and I do feel for him.
What I Would Have Liked or Changed:
Concept and Execution; I usually love these plots. I love the idea of locked door, who is locking us here plots (like 7 1/2 Deaths. That was fun) but for some reason this one just killed me. To be honest, I think I would have liked it better if I knew it was Amber from the beginning instead of it being a reveal. I think the WHY was more important in this story than the WHO, and as we get the why in the story, I liked that. Knowing it was Amber from the beginning could have added an edge of “will she get away with this?” for the whole story. It would have been a better tension than who did it, IMO. I’ve also read and seen so many of these types of stories at this point, I like them darker sooo yeah probably was just not for me and that’s okay. Also doesn’t help that she went and gave herself up, because… why? She got away with it.
Amber and Robbie’s Argument about school; SOOOO LETS TALK ATLANTA REAL QUICK. Atlanta is the home of the second LA, essentially. For big name TV shows and for a lot of movie filming. If Amber wanted to get into the movie business she could have went there. Actually, I was told (I went to school to be a film producer) that its better to go to Atlanta for certain things. I’m not sure about film scoring, but it’s not like going to Atalanta would have ended her whole life. It’s just as big with as many connections, and just as important in some ways. She could have done it. School wise, she could have applied to any school in Atlanta, although I don’t know any with film score programs, granted. Regardless, Atlanta being the end all be all to her dreams is stupid. This argument was stupid. The argument about Robbie wanting to control her life when she had her own dreams is a very valid one, very valid. But Atlanta offering her nothing? No.
Book Club Thoughts:
So we sort of agreed that the concept and execution were… to be desired. The other ladies thought it would have been better if there was truly another person out to get them, or with me that we knew it was Amber from the beginning. Also, she got away with it. Or she could have, maybe. Instead she confessed.
They really hated and loved all the characters, saying that many felt like they had inconsistencies. Like Robbie was great and then horrible, as if we weren’t sure what to think about it. In most cases we didn’t like most of the characters to a high degree. They were characters, types mostly, and we understood them although we wanted more. Wanted more on Sasha and why she agreed to be Amber’s friend. On why Amber liked Diego. On Scott.
Also, who decided that the Clown Sponge was an amazing idea? We want to know.