The Art of Secrets - James Klise

I read this book in one morning, and my first reaction after closing the book was a rather simple, but fully heartfelt "Wow!" From the author of Love Drugged, comes this truly unique and fascinating mystery novel, full of tension, excitement, anticipation, and secrecy.

When Saba Khan's family loses their apartment due to a mysterious fire, the community in which they live rallies around them, though it is unclear if all of their motives are pure. While an auction is being organized at Highsmith school, a bizarre piece of art shows up on the scene, worth over half a million dollars. In the aftermath of the discovery, everyone begins to change and fall prey to greed, jealousy, suspicion, and a spate of possibly false accusations.

Klise uses a brilliant series of unreliable narrators to tell the story, working to keep the suspense high for the entirety of the novel. Each character seems to have an answer for the theft of the paintings and for the reason behind the fire at the Khan's apartment. While Saba is at the centre of the story, a number of important characters provide a fabulous mix of opinions and half-truths that will keep readers guessing until the very last chapter (or at least, that's how it worked for me!)

Multiple perspectives and writing styles—Emails, newspaper articles, text messages, and journal entriesallow Klise to leave clues and red herrings for readers to discover, giving his audience the opportunity to formulate various endings and solutions to the case. Along with these clues, Klise uses dramatic irony, and references to other works of fiction—The Great Gatsby, Harold and the Purple Crayon, "The Lottery," etc.—to give the story depth and a character all its own. His use of humour also keeps the story from becoming too intense:
I wear a donated coat. Huge, puffymetallic blue. It makes me look like a VW Beetle. But when I'm standing at the bust stop on cold morning, I don't mind at all, because I'm a warm VW Beetle.
The conclusion is as satisfying as it is mind-boggling, and wraps everything up while also leaving some inferences up to readers. This book will stand out among the YA offerings of 2014. I look forward to award season to see what sorts of recognitions this title will receive.

Highly Recommended

(Note: This review is from an Advanced Reading Copy - Out April 22, 2014)


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