Rated 4 of 5 stars
This debut by Diana Urban is a solid start to her writing career! While there were some redundancies and “show rather than tell” moments in the book, it’s a fast paced and interesting YA read! Young readers who enjoy high school drama and innocent yet subtle love triangles will find this novel fulfilling on many levels. Here’s the Goodreads Synopsis:
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?
Urban writes a clever novel that beacons readers to guess what will happen next. We follow the main character, Amber, through alternating chapters of past and present day. The chapters spanning the past work their way from over a year ago and meet at present day. Amber, a self-proclaimed high school music geek, is accidentally whisked into the popular group along with her bestfriend, Priya, after a bold move to ask Queen Bee Sasha for a favor. Sasha, mean girl and “best at everything” aficionado, she gets closer to Amber as they work together on a school play. Amber has a lot riding on the play as its her college admissions music profile that will hopefully get her a scholarship which is much needed by her financially struggling family. Sasha invites Amber and Priya into her friend group and they soon learn that being popular comes with some tricks and mistakes they won’t easily undo.
After getting a note for a scholarship to meet at a banquet hall, six classmates, all with history with one another, meet. Once the door closes and locks shut, they realize that they are in for a horrible game meant to make them choose who will die in order to save the others. And this is where the games begin.
The novel is a fun read and moves quickly from past to present. The past provides the explanation needed on the relationships of the characters in the room so I thought that was clever. Readers who wonder why people hate each other are soon brought up to speed and the relationships become more real. While the story is solid throughout, there were some redundancies in descriptions (i.e. wiping hand down face, rubbing lips together or hair falling over eye) that seemed too often to gel well. These may be fixed by the final release so I wouldn’t take those too personally. I also felt that the story was somewhat predictable and became a bit preachy about bullying towards the end. The final chapter seemed to feel the longest as the main character laments so I thought that was a soft ending for one that could have been more hard hitting and linger with surprise instead of explanation. Overall though, I think young readers will enjoy this twisty, dramatic tale. Don’t you just love the cover?! This book is released NOW so go grab a copy HERE!
Raging Book Reviews Recommended
*Special thanks to @epicreads #epicreads @harpercollins #harpercollins @harperteen #harperteen for gifting me an advanced copy to review.
#AYTS #twistedsecrets #dianaurban