All Your Twisted Secrets is an absolute nail-biter. Diana Urban takes the locked room puzzle mystery and gives it a modern, scary, young adult twist. Young fans of Agatha Christie will be entranced. A stellar new voice to watch.”
In this intense psychological thriller, six teens—“the queen bee, the jock, the brains, the stoner, the loner, and the orchestra geek”—are trapped in a room with a bomb ticking down, a deadly syringe, and a note informing them that “within the hour” they must either select one person to die or face that fate together. Over the next hour, narrator and aspiring composer Amber; her boyfriend, baseball star Robbie; her former best friend Priya; her current bestie, overachiever Sasha; school valedictorian Diego; and resident drug dealer Scott must find a way to either escape or follow their captor’s wishes. As the minutes slip away, tensions grow in the room, resurfacing hidden resentments and old grudges. Alternating chapters set over the previous year further fill in the blanks until an inevitable-seeming clash reveals the students’ darkest secrets. Urban’s debut is a powerful one, rich in emotional turmoil and intracharacter conflict, with a strong message against bullying and a focus on standing up for oneself and one’s goals. Last-minute revelations will undoubtedly require a second close reading, however, and may prove polarizing. Ages 12–up. Agent: Jim McCarthy, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret. (Mar.)
Like a diabolical version of The Breakfast Club with equal parts murder and angst, All Your Twisted Secrets is a tense and exhilarating rollercoaster, sprinting against time to a shocking ending that will make you immediately want to read it again.
Reminiscent of an Agatha Christie, All Your Twisted Secrets will keep you guessing to the end. A page-turner with characters you will love and hate. Simply, a fabulous mystery!
Talk about frightening page-turners! I kept reading chapter after chapter. I had to know what happens next! And trust me—the scares just keep on coming!
All Your Twisted Secrets is an absolute nail-biter. Diana Urban takes the locked room puzzle mystery and gives it a modern, scary, young adult twist. Young fans of Agatha Christie will be entranced. A stellar new voice to watch.
Gr 9 Up—Amber, the music prodigy. Sasha, the queen bee. Priya, the loner. Robbie, the baseball jock. Diego, the valedictorian. Scott, the school drug dealer. What do they all have in common? Nothing apparently, but nevertheless, someone has trapped them in the Chesterfield—under the guise of a scholarship dinner—with a syringe full of poison, a bomb, and a note that says they need to pick one of them to die or else they all will. As the bomb counts down, secrets are revealed about each of them and they come to realize that they may be more alike than previously thought. Debut author Urban adds to the growing collection of contemporary teen mysteries with a serviceable, compelling thriller. The narrative is split between the present and the year leading up to the "scholarship dinner." Readers will be captivated as layers of each teen's life are peeled back to complicate the mystery. Amber is an intriguing protagonist; she still struggles with her sister's suicide, while juggling college applications to film score programs, scoring the school play, and her new and overwhelming relationships with Sasha and Robbie, two of the most popular kids in school. VERDICT Fans of Karen M. McManus's One of Us is Lying and Sara Shepard's Pretty Little Liars will want to check this one out.—Tyler Hixson, Brooklyn Public Library
Debut author Urban's high-pressure revenge thriller puts a sinister twist on the escape room motif.
Amber is a recently popular high school senior who, after years of avoiding social entanglements, is suddenly thrust into the popular circle. Her musical ambitions lead her to team up with queen bee Sasha to compose the score for an upcoming school play. Though Sasha appears outwardly friendly, Amber slowly learns the machinations of the in crowd and the manipulation required to attain and maintain their social hierarchy. The story of Amber's rise is told in flashbacks as she and a motley crew with tenuous ties try to escape from a terrifying room in which they have been commanded to kill one among them in order to save the rest. Each flashback provides clues to the relationships between and potential motives of each person locked in the death trap. Confusingly, relationships that are alluded to in the present never appear in the flashbacks, and other important plot elements seem thrown in after the fact by way of explanation rather than following logically from the preceding action. Though an unreliable narrator is to be expected, Amber's character is nothing if not inconsistent, leaving the reader to question who the real bad guy is and if they have just been gaslighted yet again. Amber and Sasha are white; there is some diversity in the cast, but the portrayals lack substantive texture.
A mixed bag. (Mystery/thriller. 14-18)