First Lines: I spent the last hour wondering if I would die tonight. You can drop dead from a heart attack at seventeen, right? The prospect of tonight’s dinner party made my heart ricochet off my rib cage so fiercely I was convinced my days were numbered.
I was lucky enough to have a copy of this ARC and, as a fan of Agatha Christie, especially And Then There Were None, this looked so far up my alley I was bouncing to read this. (This book officially releases March 17th.)
Six high school seniors are invited to a scholarship dinner, though they don’t seem to have much in common. A valedictorian, a queen bee, a star athlete, a music geek, a loner, and a stoner. But for all of them, this dinner turns out to be far different than they expected: it’s a trap. Suddenly, they are stuck in a room together with a syringe filled with poison, a bomb counting down to zero, and a note saying they need to kill one person or they’re all going to die. Amber is determined that everyone should get out alive…but what is their connection? Who wants them dead? As they begin tracing back their actions, it soon becomes clear that everyone has secrets. And with the clock ticking down, it all comes down to one question: who is going to die?
The story is what I like to call The Breakfast Club meets Agatha Christie. I really love that it does have that Christie feel to it, where you’re always searching for the smallest clues and it’s full of suspense.
The characters are not exactly the type I generally tend to like. They’re not…heroic, I guess. A couple of them aren’t even good people. But I’m aware that this is a bias I have and I was willing to give the story a fair shake. And honestly, when I stopped looking at each individual action as, “Well that was stupid. Why would they do that?” and started looking at it as teenagers who were desperate for something, then it started to make a lot more sense and I was more sympathetic toward them.
And honestly, these secrets everyone has been keeping? They’re dark. Some are bigger than others, but oh man. This book is gritty and real and dark.
The story is narrated by our music geek, Amber. Her high school isn’t super big, so she’s acquainted with everyone at this dinner. And because her musical abilities are so good, she kind of walks that line between popular and outcast. She was a good choice for narrator because she was so familiar with both sides.
Perhaps what I liked about this book the most was its construction. We’re not in the room the whole story–we’re also shown the events of the last year through Amber’s eyes. The story alternates between the absolute panic of the bomb and what’s happened the last 12 or 13 months. It really built the suspense on both sides of this. Most of the time, I was obviously more anxious to read what happened as the bomb counted down, but there were other events that unfolded outside of that that had my attention. I don’t always see the point of it when stories do that, but this was a necessity.
I like to think myself pretty clever, but this book left me guessing. I mean, I had suspicions from time to time, but there are virtually no clues the whole story. As you get closer to the end, you do start getting hints about things (secrets to be spilled, who’s behind this, etc.) and I certainly did not call it. I actually really enjoyed not being able to figure it out and just getting sucked into the suspense of it all. I haven’t read anything this suspenseful in a while. I had a hard time putting it down to go to bed.
This story has a lot of truths in it. It reveals a lot about human nature and what we’re willing to do to survive, even at the expense of others. It’s psychology in action and I love that.
I really enjoyed this. I can’t wait until everyone can read it!