I’m a massive fan of books where a character enters an exclusive world and finds that under the surface it’s not as glitzy as it seems. All These Beautiful Strangers not only reflects on the dark secrets of at the heart of this society, it also deals with the very personal unsolved mystery of the protagonist’s missing mother.
When I picked up this book, I noted that the very pages were marked with the words “I KNOW”. From that moment on, I was gripped by the question: know what? This is something that preoccupies the main character throughout. What’s great about this novel is that it layers up the enigma, wrapping each clue up with intrigue and leaving it for the reader to uncover. With flashbacks and seemingly insignificant pieces of the puzzle left in plain sight, it’s very possible to gather where it’s going- however going on that journey is half the fun.
I thoroughly enjoyed every twist and turn of the story. The best part about it- by far- was that it never became campy or ridiculous- I’ve read a few other books in this vein and that has become an easy trap to fall into. Not for this book though- while there was plenty of intrigue, it didn’t utterly dispense with reality. My one minor issue in terms of the plot was that it was rather a lonnnng, s l o w reveal. Also, I did guess the end- still it built to such a satisfying conclusion that I didn’t mind in the least.
The characters were mostly decent- though not wholly original. Perhaps rather surprisingly, the most compelling characters for me were the parents. Not only did I feel far more connected to their romance, I also felt like I was seriously invested in their side of the story. Highlight for spoiler: I also don’t know if this makes me a bad person, because the father did sit back and let something terrible happen/didn’t come forward about it after- but I felt he deserved forgiveness by the end because a) he didn’t technically do the deed and b) he suffered enough with the loss of Grace– so yeah, that’s my teeny tiny “complaint” (that’s not even a real complaint).
Overall though, I thought it was an excellent story. I’d definitely recommend it for fans of YA mystery-thrillers- this is right up there as one of the best ones I’ve read.
Rating: 4½/5 bananas
So have you read this? Do you plan to? What do you think of it? Let me know in the comments!