Publishing Info: March 17, 2020 by HarperCollins, HarperTeen
Source: Audiobook borrowed from library
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: April 16, 2020
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
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?
This was…. kind of stupid. I’ll explain later in spoiler tags but I’m really disappointed with this one for a few different reasons. Non-spoilery things first BUT THERE ARE SPOILERS LATER ON in this review, so beware! They are well-marked so feel free to read the rest until you hit them!
The characters are incredibly flat and one-dimensional. There was little to no character development for any of the characters except to push them toward their dedications or their stereotypical “brands”. There’s an athlete and all he cares about is baseball. There’s a musician and all she cares about is music. The guy who’s branded as a stoner and who’s thought to be dealing drugs comes from a bad home. There’s humanity in any of these characters and they’re so incredibly flat that it made the kind of annoying when there was really nothing to get to know about them along the way. The reactions were not deep, the goals were surface-level. It just wasn’t anything to write home about.
The book felt kind of campy instead of thrilling. I actually have no problem with campy… when things are meant to be campy. KILL THE BOY BAND? Highly amusing and excellent. I don’t think this was meant to feel so slasher film (without the slashing). It actually really did feel like ONE OF US IS LYING, as mentioned in the synopsis but too bad I didn’t like the feel of that book either so that didn’t work in my favor. A few things were just too over the top and the whole plan for this book was just… ridiculous. Kids trapped in a room and someone has to die or a bomb will go off??? Eye-roll city. I didn’t *quite* know that was the plot before I read it — I just knew they were trapped together and that it was a thriller — but I probably still would have read it anyway.
I wish we had a time-ticking, nail-biting, fast-paced thriller instead of constant flashbacks to the events leading up to the entrapment. I was just hoping we would get a thriller side of things and focus on what was happening in the room instead of flashing back. The rest of the book really wasn’t twisty or mysterious except for a couple truth nuggets that were stored away so they could be revealed later, but it really wasn’t that twisty for me, being a big thriller fan. I just don’t think everything we learned was a big enough factor for this threat of “someone has to die” to happen and I kept waiting to be shocked and I really wasn’t.
Some of the high school stuff was incredibly unrealistic. I played sports and did the plays/musicals in high school. There comes a point where you have to pick one or the other. I doubted that Sasha could have been a varsity cheerleader to the point where she’s helping pick people for the squad and organizing things AND been so involved in the play AND have been so into her studies. There’s just not enough time in the world (which I guess was the point) but no, literally. It’s not possible. The practices for sports and the plays are likely at the same time, at least at some point in time, because this is high school and kids still have to practice after school. And of course everyone in this book was SO GOOD at what they do. The brightest brains, a musical composer, an all-star athlete… it was all just a bit too perfect that it felt far-fetched.
And here’s the spoiler… Turn away now if you don’t want to read it! So we find out at the end that narrator and lead gal pal Amber orchestrated this whole thing, trapping everyone in the room together to force Sasha to confess how terrible she was so she could open her eyes to this and she would be a better person after it. She was going to do it all secretly so no one would ever know it was her. Firstly, this is a BIG thing to orchestrate and you’d be in incredible trouble on so many levels. Likely, you couldn’t pull it off (and ha, she uhhh didn’t in many ways) and there’s the risk of anyone finding out meaning trespassing, breaking and entering, some kind of death threats or something, and not to mention all of your friends and potential love interest hating you for it. But here’s the kicker… Sasha DIES, stabbed by Amber’s former best friend Priya (who stops being her friend because Amber is too concerned with Sasha) and NO ONE’S MAD AT AMBER FOR MAKING THIS WHOLE THING HAPPEN. Amber TELLS Priya, the girl who stabbed someone, and potential love interest that she was the one who set it up and they’re like, no, don’t tell the cops, you’ll get in so much trouble! Priya isn’t pissed as hell that the only reason SHE stabbed someone and will have to live with that forever is because of what her former best friend orchestrated? Of COURSE everything went wrong! You’re 17 years old! You don’t understand human nature and what people do when they’re forced to confront their most horrible secrets, especially in front of other people. What an idiot. I’m even angrier typing it all out and thinking about it all over again.
The reason for this book is so stupid and having talked about it, I just can’t deal with that being the whole plot of this book. I can’t believe anyone would think that would work. And that they get away with it and no one suffers any consequences. I guess I have something to rant about now though *shrug*
Kept Me Hooked On: Time-sensitive thrillers. I wish we spent the WHOLE time with the thrilling part of things, but I did like how there was a finite space in which this all took place.
Left Me Wanting More: Of a reality check? I just don’t see this EVER happening and it was far too unrealistic for me.
I personally would not recommend this one. There are a bunch of people who enjoyed it but as a thriller fan, this really wasn’t enjoyable for me and the ending made me so mad. I just can’t recommend it because of that.