All Your Twisted Secrets
By Mary Eisenhart,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Twisty tale of teens trapped in deadly locked-room thriller.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Several characters are deeply involved with their interests and pursuits, so along the way we learn a lot of detail about writing musical scores for an ever-changing theater production, the challenges of an athlete trying to interest college recruiters, and discussion of bringing water to isolated spots in developing countries.
This is a cautionary tale about how more empathy and less laser-focused obsession in the past would have averted a raft of trouble for all the characters.
Positive Role Models
While Amber's long-estranged childhood friends eventually emerge as having some positive qualities (kindness, empathy, courage, resourcefulness) and make some efforts to repair the relationship, most of the characters are at best confused teens making bad choices (stealing booze, stealing test answers at school, partying with liquor when the parents are away, etc.) and at worst are fairly awful people.
Violence & Scariness
Violence looms over whole plot: Teens have to pick one of their number to kill so that they don't all get killed. But there's more: a fatal stabbing, a broken ankle, a girl driven to suicide by an internet bully, a boy blackmailed into selling drugs because he fears his druggie dad will be arrested and leave him homeless, a harassment campaign that makes a girl fall and knock out her front teeth, characters who do things they know are wrong because of social pressure, physical fights, etc. A number of characters are so determined to get their own way and realize their dreams that they don't care what they're doing to others. In the past, a serial killer terrorized the town. A teen busted for having a BB gun at school was not planning a massacre; he was carrying protection against his violent father.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Characters do a lot of talking about "hooking up" in flashback scenes, but it's questionable how much actually happens. In flashbacks, some brief but intense kisses. Two peripheral characters are in a same-sex relationship. Some discussion among some characters as to whether sex with the same gender counts as sex.
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Plentiful "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," "crap," and other crude language. "Damn," "hell," etc. Lots of subtly twisty verbal bullying.
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Products & Purchases
Several characters obsessed with getting into a particular college, Ivy League status, etc. Occasional mention of brand names, titles of movie soundtracks.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
In the months leading up to the locked-room nightmare, all the characters have been part of drunken parties (fueled by booze stolen from their parents) and/or used and sold drugs from pot to speed.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Diana Urban's All Your Twisted Secrets is a dark, angsty tale trapping six high school seniors, all of whom have a lot of baggage, in a classic escape-the-room scenario that gives them an hour to choose which of them to kill and do the deed -- otherwise they'll all die. Escaping doesn't seem to be a real option. Terror ensues, along with flashbacks starting a year or so earlier to flesh out the characters and the conflicts, crises, and past wrongs that have led to this moment: stealing liquor for drinking parties and the answers to a biology test for cheating purposes to win favor with the cool kids; romance on the rocks due to different life goals; a family's financial troubles due to another family's success; a kid whose sole support is his druggie dad; an online bully who drove a character's beloved sister to suicide. There are flickers of kindness and empathy as things become increasingly overwrought, a horrific conclusion that leads to overdue realizations, and lots of nastiness, button-pushing, and strong language ("f--k," "s--t," "bitch," "crap") along the way.
Where to Read
Based on 1 parent review
An intense page turner...
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What's the Story?
ALL YOUR TWISTED SECRETS opens as 17-year-old music student Amber Prescott and her baseball star boyfriend, Robbie (whom she's planning to break up with), are invited to a mysterious dinner for scholarship recipients. There they find four of their classmates -- Scott, the stoner and drug dealer; Diego, the kid whose invention made him rich; Priya, Amber's longtime and now estranged BFF; and Sasha, manipulative queen of their whole high school. They also discover that they're all locked in an escape-proof room with what appears to be a bomb, a syringe of poison, a timer, and a note explaining that they have to pick one of their number to die by the syringe unless they want the bomb to blow them all up. They've got an hour, in which disbelief, mockery, and snark quickly give way to pure terror.
Is It Any Good?
Teens grapple with the problem of who to throw under a bus in this murderous locked-room thriller in which toxic high school behavior takes center stage and chews up a lot of scenery. And that's before things get really bad. Narrator Amber struggles to be the voice of reason that gets everybody out alive as All Your Twisted Secrets come home to roost, but getting anyone to listen is another matter. And, as she says, "The thing about being trapped in a room with five other people, a bomb, and a syringe of lethal poison is that at some point, s--t's going down."
Genre fans will be caught up in the thrills. Others won't be sold on the notion that these characters are worth caring about.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about bullying -- physical, psychological, and cyber -- and how it ruins lives. How does it drive the plot of All Your Twisted Secrets?
All Your Twisted Secrets has elements in common with murder classics by Agatha Christie, especially And Then There Were None. Do you see any similarities?
If someone you want to be friends with is urging you to do something you know is wrong, does it make you reconsider whether you want to be friends with them, or reconsider your sense of right and wrong?
- Author: Diana Urban
- Genre: Horror
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, High School
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: HarperTeen
- Publication date: March 17, 2020
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 14 - 18
- Number of pages: 400
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: January 20, 2022
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