Hi friends! I’m really excited to share a review of a YA mystery-thriller with you because, well, MYSTERY. LIKE SCOOBY-DOO*. Or Agatha Christie. Or…you get the picture. But before I start I’m going to put a list of trigger warnings, because there’s quite a few. They do give slight spoilers but if you’re worried about going in please don’t hesitate to read it and make sure you’re in the right headspace.
*it really says a lot about me that the first thing to come to my mind when i think about mysteries is “scooby-doo”. smh.
TW/CW: suicide, panic attacks, bullying, drug abuse, underage drinking, physical and emotional abuse, mentions of a gun at school and fear of a shooting
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?
First of all, this book is pitched as being a Breakfast Club mashup, for fans of One of Us is Lying and Agatha Christie. Me, being woefully uncultured*, has neither seen said movie nor read said book. However, I do like Agatha Christie, so I was really excited to jump into this audiobook! And it surprised me in several ways.
*no surprise there
Amber Prescott is our main character, and we read first-person from her the entire book. I actually really enjoyed that aspect, rather than switching perspectives six times. She’s determined, self-aware, actually plays video games, loves music, and is generally just a really likeable lead.
Priya is Amber’s ex-best-friend by the time the whole “oops we’re locked in a room with poison and a bomb” thing starts. She has Indian heritage I believe. I liked her? But she kind of fell flat for me. You know those characters that you think you like but realize you only kind of give a crap about? Yeah, that’s her.
Sasha is basically the popular girl who has it all. THE QUEEN BEE. THE REGINA GEORGE.
Her character could have been developed a little more concisely, in my opinion. I don’t want to spoil but let’s just say that she had the potential for a more morally grey arc? Such as Regina George. But there was more to her than just the “shallow queen bee for no reason” plotline and I appreciated that. Also, she’s Amber’s new best friend.
Robbie was the classic jock. ALTHOUGH I was shocked that he wasn’t a football player? As in, a quarterback? Because I suppose that’s the cliche with these things. He’s actually a baseball player I had every intention of hating but was surprised by a few aspects about his character.
Diego is the nerd. But like, the sweet, really, really, REALLY clever nerd. And the guy Amber’s catching feelings for. I really adored Diego actually. He was just…cinnamon roll. Although I think he didn’t get quite the amount of page time as some of the others.
Scott. Oh, Scott. The narrator read the scene where he walked in, sporting a leather jacket, said something sassy, and I immediately went “ah. you are my favorite human*.” But honestly? Scott didn’t get anywhere near as much page time or development as he deserved. He was mostly there for comic relief (albeit needed). It kind of threw off the balance of relationships between everyone in the group.
*it’s also worth mentioning that i didn’t find out that he was the stoner until like ten seconds AFTER i claimed him and by then it was too late
The plot switched between flashbacks and present time, which actually worked really well. I was shocked to find that I couldn’t stop listening to it? Me. The “instantly rips out headphones as soon as the treadmill stops” person. So hats off to Diana Urban for crafting a story so very addicting, and the narrator for bringing to life each and every character.
I also liked how the author mixed in a lot of good lessons. I think that in teenage stories muddled by a lot of heavy stuff, it can get far too easy to simply write things off and only focus on the story. But this tackled quite a few hard topics, and didn’t feel like they were just used as a plot device.
Okay. I liked a lot of things about this novel, but in all honesty? There were a few issues. For example, like I stated above, I felt that there was uneven character development. It’s hard to balance so many characters within one small book, so it’s understandable. I just wish it had been a little more even.
Also, I predicted nearly everything. Not the ending, and not a minor twist at the end, but I had a good handle on everyone’s secrets and the big plot twist. And while I enjoyed the ride, it’s always a little bit disappointing to leave a mystery without a sense of shock every time you think about it.
Speaking of the plot, I found the scenes inside the locked room a bit repetitive and surprisingly lacking in urgency. I liked how the flashbacks would tie into the current scene, but it honestly took away a lot of the thrill and adrenaline of not knowing what would be happening next.
That’s it! I hope this was okay, and not too long. Tell me: what’s a good mystery? Have YOU read One of Us is Lying?