Want personalized picks that fit your family?

Set preferences to see our top age-appropriate picks for your kids.

Get age-based picks

And Then There Were None

Book review by
Barbara Schultz, Common Sense Media
And Then There Were None Book Poster Image
Masterful murder mystery takes dark view of justice.
Popular with kids

Parents say

age 18+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 19 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

And Then There Were None takes place on an island off the coast of England during the 1930s. Readers will get a feel for modes of transportation and communication in that place and time. They'll also learn a little about medicines/anaesthetics that were used (from a character who's a doctor) and about the British legal system at that time (from a character who's a judge).

Positive Messages

This mystery novel takes a jaded view of justice and human nature, but some might say that the book teaches that the harshest judgment comes from your own conscience.

Positive Role Models & Representations

All of the main characters in And Then There Were None are guilty of bringing about another's death, whether by neglect or by murder.

Violence

Not all of the murders in And then There Were None result from violence. A couple of characters are poisoned and go somewhat peacefully. However, most are dispensed with by violent means. The book includes murder committed by drowning, bludgeoning, shooting, and dropping a heavy object on a man's head from a second-story window. The reader doesn't "witness" the murders; they're discovered after the fact, but the results are described in some detail.

Sex

One character recalls a past affair with a married man, and she remembers his arms around her.

Language

The racially bigoted title and language that appaeared in the original edition of the novel have been changed, but any investigation into the history of this 1930s mystery will uncover that the original title was Ten Little Niggers. In addition, the rhyme that forms a framework for the murder mystery, which appears in modern editions as "Ten Little Soldiers" originally contained the plural of the N-word rather than "Soldiers" and used the N-word throughout the rhyme. That archaic and offensive language was changed early on in editions published in the United States (to Ten Little Indians) and later in the UK, as well. In the 1980s, both the UK and U.S. editions became known by the current title. But the book still contains characters who refer to African "natives" as inferior beings and who refer to the character Isaac Morris as a "little Jew."

 

 

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Poisonous drugs are used to commit murder (cyanide, chloral hydrate). Dr. Armstrong prescribes sedatives to inhabitants of the island to calm them down. The guests also drink whiskey and brandy. Isaac Morris is described as a "dope" dealer who sells illegal drugs.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that in prolific British mystery novelist Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None , 10 guests visit Soldier Island and a murderer uses a nursery rhyme as a framework to plan and execute the visitors' deaths, one by one, in various ways, including by shooting, drowning, bludgeoning, poisoning, and hanging. The text contains derogatory references to African "natives" and a couple of anti-Semitic remarks. The book was written for adults, but teens can learn a lot about the mystery genre from this master.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bycashmerefeet October 25, 2013

Not for kids or tweens. Maybe High School.

Definitely and adult read with premeditated murders and violence. Very descriptive. Should we be encouraging our children to read books that encourage killings?
Adult Written byahmad a. September 6, 2017

you'll not expect the ending.

It partly, and quite amusingly, reminds me of that old American murder mystery in Sunset Beach. Basically, they're the only ones on this island and someone... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byEpicNerd January 28, 2014

The most brilliantly plotted mystery of all time

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you, And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. My gosh was this book incredible! Agatha Christie herself stated after... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byLibrarymouse December 29, 2015

Agatha at her best

I love all of Agatha Christie's books, and this is one of my favorites. It's not a detective mystery like her other books. There are few clues and the... Continue reading

What's the story?

In Agatha Christie's murder mystery AND THEN THERE WERE NONE, 10 guests are invited for a stay on Soldier Island, off the coast of England, by someone named U.N. Owen. Each of the guest bedrooms, and the dining room, contains a framed copy of a nursery rhyme, \"Ten Little Soldiers,\" in which each of 10 soldiers dies, one by one; this rhyme turns out to be the framework for U.N. Owen's murderous plans. It soon becomes clear that all of the island \"guests\" were duped in different ways into coming to the island, and that whoever tricked them wants justice for past crimes that the guests committed.

Is it any good?

And Then There Were None is a grim but riveting mystery. Characters are first introduced just so that readers can distinguish them, but as the book progresses and readers get further inside their minds and their fears, the suspense builds. One of the darkest aspects of the novel is the fact there's no "good guy" here -- all of the characters appear equally guilty in more ways than one. This is an exciting book -- however grisly -- that is to be enjoyed for its page-turning plot and Christie's masterful construction around the spooky nursery rhyme.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Agatha Christie's influence as a popular mystery writer. How this 1939 murder mystery compare with more modern mysteries you've read?

  • Once you've finished reading this novel, do you think there were any clues that should have told you earlier who the murderer is?

  • Explore more of Agatha Christie's plots by reading some of her Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple mysteries, or by watching the TV adaptations on PBS or Netflix.

Book details

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

For kids who love mystery and suspense

Our editors recommend

Top advice and articles

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate