All Your Twisted Secrets

by Diana Urban

“My pulse raced as I stared at the syringe of poison and the bomb atop the gleaming silver platter. Within the hour, you must choose someone in this room to die. If you don’t everyone dies.

‘That’s one sick prank,’ said Robbie. ‘Who the hell would do this?’ He grabbed the note from me, his eyes darting across the page. Diego leaned against the edge of the table, studying the bomb.

‘Wait, wait, wait.’ Sasha clutched at her throat. ‘Does that mean…if we don’t kill one of us, that bomb will go off in an hour?'”

Ratings & Reviews

Book Grade: B+

I love a good mystery/suspense book, so I was excited to sink my teeth into this. Knowing that the mysterious letter indicates that the guests need to select one person to kill or they will all die from a bomb, I was hooked as the story unfolded.

Amber is a motivated teenager who is determined to become a famous movie score composer, yet her desire to write the score for a school production of Romeo and Juliet leads to her senior year being anything but predictable. Alternating between the present moment (where Amber and five of her classmates) find themselves trapped in an abandoned restaurant for a fictitious scholarship dinner that turns out to be a plot to destroy one (or all) of the teens and the year leading up to this very moment, All Your Twisted Secrets focuses on little lies, secrets, and poor choices that can lead to tragic outcomes. Trying to unravel who is behind the mysterious and deadly dinner and attempting to find each character’s hidden secret kept me hooked. Each has their flaws and redeeming qualities, so it was hard to root for one character to be the sacrificial victim. Each has their dark secrets, though, and comes face-to-face with how their secrets brought them to this very moment.

The ending was the only part that I didn’t love. About 90% of the way through the book, I saw where this was going and predicted the ending. I wanted the ending to be different (and I am not entirely sure that the end justified the means), but alas, I understand why Diana Urban had the story unfold the way that it did.

Movie Rating: PG-13

As a YA novel, All Your Twisted Secrets references stereotypical teen behavior in a way that both assumes all teens fit neatly into certain roles and makes light of certain teen behaviors. For example, early on in the story, Sasha urges Amber to sneak booze to a party and Amber (motivated by the desire for Sasha’s approval) agrees. There are multiple references to teen drinking, and there is an in-depth plot line that focuses on one character buying drugs from another character. There is a lengthy discussion about teen sex – specifically focusing on a lesbian couple who appear nowhere else in the book – but it is largely done in generalities. There is also a fair amount of swearing throughout the book (not just in the high stress locked-in-a-room scenes). Overall, this book is a better fit for older or more mature teenagers and not ideal for younger readers, but the content is very edgy.

Would I Buy This for My Library: Probably

Teen mystery/suspense books are always a hit and this one checks all the boxes – a bit of romance, lots of secrets, and an imminent threat. The ending of All Your Twisted Secrets not what I had hoped for, but that doesn’t make it a bad ending and there will absolutely be readers who feel that what happens is exactly what needed to happen. This will engage reluctant readers, guys and girls, and is intriguing enough to keep them hooked. Overall, I think that it is a worthwhile purchase, but I recognize that it does fall short at the end, so it may not be one I recommend to everyone.

Summary:

It’s supposed to be a simple scholarship dinner – just one hour and all of the six recipients will go home a bit better off. Things don’t go as planned, though, and moments after stepping into the reserved room at the restaurant, it becomes evident to Amber, Priya, Sasha, Robbie, Diego, and Scott that they might not make it out alive.

Amber reluctantly went to the scholarship dinner in hopes of securing a bit more money so that she could attend USC in the fall and study movie scores – pursuing her life’s passion. Her relationship with her popular, baseball star boyfriend is not going well and she may be developing feelings for her childhood friend, Diego. She is also having lots of friendship drama, with her longtime best friend Priya abandoning her after her new friend Sasha became a bit more controlling. Now the six of them have to be in a room together for the scholarship ceremony, but quickly after they are seated, they read a note that indicates that the dinner will not go as planned: one of them must die by poison or all of them will die when a bomb goes off in one hour.

Alternating between the present moment (where the group has a perpetual count down) and the past year leading up to Amber’s senior spring, this fast-paced thriller reveals hidden secrets and makes everyone suspicious. Keeping secrets has never been so dangerous, and all six teenagers realize that whatever happens tonight, their lives will never be the same.

Book Talk Questions:

  1. How does Amber change over the course of the year leading up to tonight? Is it for better or for worse?
  2. Sasha is adored and reviled. What does she do to earn her reputation and what is revealed over the course of the night? Do you think that she is a generally good or generally bad person?
  3. Amber is struggling with her relationship with Robbie. Why is that? Who do you agree with more in this – Amber or Robbie?
  4. What happened to Amber’s sister? Who was targeting her online?
  5. What is Scott’s secret and why does that make him a target of Sasha’s?
  6. Why was everyone gathered tonight? What does Amber plan to tell the police? What would you have said?

A Perfect Read for Fans Of…

  • One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus
  • Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard
  • We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
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