An action-packed mystery with a clever twist that’s hard to put down. Recommended for teenage girls.
Fifteen-year old Evie is a normal teenager until a solicitor from Scotland appears on her doorstep with news of a £10 million inheritance and a secret that turns her world upside down. It’s little wonder she struggles to cope and ends up being enrolled on a summer programme for troubled teens on the remote island of Lightsea. Little does she suspect that her troubles are only just beginning. At the same time as coping with her burgeoning attraction to two of the boys on the programme, she discovers the island is linked to her family secret. Evie is determined to get to the bottom of the mystery, unaware of the dangers that this will bring for both her and her new friends.
Evie is an appealing character and the reader warms to her from the moment she appears lounging on the sofa in her PJ bottoms in the middle of the afternoon. This isn’t to say she is perfect – she’s not – but it is our ability to identify with her that probably makes us like Evie so much. The other teens are equally well drawn, being distinctive without being caricatures. This is no mean feat when you analyse how few words Sophie McKenzie uses to establish both their personality and background.
It is, however, one of the adult characters that I found most impressive (but to tell you who would give away the clever plot twist!). The heart to any mystery is setting up the suspects and describing their actions in a way that makes the big revelation at the end totally believable whilst also surprising. I don’t think it’s much of a plot spoiler to say that I immediately – and with some justification – suspected Evie’s newly discovered Uncle Gavin and I imagine that this is exactly who the author wants us to focus on. His accomplices are, however, far more unexpected.
All My Secrets was hard to put down. Packed with action, I read the book cover to cover in single day. In many respects, it reminds me of the type of action adventure stories that are more usually aimed at teenage boys. This is, however, very much a girl’s book. While the focus throughout the book remains on the action-driven mystery plot (which is likely to appeal to readers of both genders), the sub-plot as Evie tries to work out her true feelings for the two boys in the story will, I suspect, only appeal to girls. Indeed, the only minor niggle I have with the book is the resolution of this sub-plot which reads more like a Mills and Boon or Chick-Lit novel. This is, however, a minor point and I can quite see that teenage girls will love the short speech where the boy Evie has decided she really likes declares his feelings for her.
Overall this is an exciting action-packed story that teenage girls will love. Boys, however, might prefer an action adventure with less of a focus on relationships. Perhaps try Necropolis (Power of Five) by Anthony Horowitz which has a female lead but remains a story that will be enjoyed by girls and boys alike.
Date: July 2015
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s Books
Author’s Website: Sophie McKenzie
Review first published on The Bookbag