Cover Image: Twelfth


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I LOVED Twelfth; in fact it is probably the best middle grade book I've read this year.
This is a fantastic and heartwarming mystery about finding your people, being who you truly are, and finding acceptance.  Such relatable characters and situations, Key also does a great job of representing the LGBTQ+ community, as well as looking at mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.  Plus Shakespeare! And all the fun of putting on a play and being part of a theatre group!  Such a great read :)
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Janet Key's "Twelfth' is a great mystery adventure read for young readers and the Shakespeare references make it a good choice for their parents as well.
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I had so much fun reading Twelfth! The novel is told through dual timelines (the main timeline is contemporary while the other gives short sneak peaks into the lives of related characters back in the 40s-50s). The main story follows a young girl named Maren who gets sent to a summer drama camp and begins to discover hidden clues leading her to a mysterious treasure. Legend has it that there is a valuable diamond engagement ring hidden on the camp’s premises and Maren (and her friends) set out to find it. Unfortunately for them, Maren isn’t the only person on the hunt, and the malicious second party is not unwilling to get rid of anything and anyone in their way. Can Maren find the ring before it’s too late?

I don’t read many middle grade mystery novels, so I was a bit worried that I was going to find this a bit too young for my tastes. Luckily for me, I actually really enjoyed the setting, the plot, and the characters. I felt as though the characters in this book were a lot more mature than I expected–more mature than some YA novels I’ve read in the past, in fact—and it worked incredibly well.

On top of that, there is an amazing amount of representation included throughout. Though I don’t think it’s ever explicitly stated, I believe several characters were Black and brown with one Spanish-speaking character. There were also a lot of queer characters (which I kind of expected as a book about drama kids). We have trans rep, gay rep, lesbian rep, and even a historical sapphic romance.

Now that I’ve read and enjoyed Twelfth, I’m interested in checking out the other two books mentioned in the blurb. I can only hope that I like those just as much!
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Disclaimer: I received this e-arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: Twelfth

Author: Janet Key

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 4/5

Diversity: Non-binary character, Wheelchair user character, Trans character, Gay character, Queer characters

Recommended For...: middle grade readers, mystery, LGBT, thriller, theater, summer camp

Publication Date: May 17, 2022

Genre: MG Mystery

Age Relevance: 12+ (homophobia, transphobia, antisemitism, religion, religious trauma, depression, parental death, kidnapping, war, gore, violence, domestic abuse, romance)

Explanation of Above: There are some homophobia, transphobia, and antisemetic comments made to characters in the book. There is mentions of religion and religious trauma. Depression and parental death is mentioned briefly. There is a couple of kidnapping scenes, along with mentions of war and scenes of gore (vomit and some slight blood) and violence (assault on minors). Domestic abuse is alluded to in the book and there are a couple of brief scenes of romance.

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Pages: 368

Synopsis: Twelve-year-old Maren is sure theater camp isn’t for her. Theater camp is for loud, confident, artsy people: people like her older sister, Hadley—the last person Maren wants to think about—and her cinema-obsessed, nonbinary bunkmate, Theo. But when a prank goes wrong, Maren gets drawn into the hunt for a diamond ring that, legend has it, is linked to the camp’s namesake, Charlotte “Charlie” Goodman, a promising director in Blacklist Era Hollywood.
When Maren connects the clues to Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, she and her new friends are off searching through lighting booths, orchestra pits and costume storages, discovering the trail and dodging camp counselors. But they’re not the only ones searching for the ring, and with the growing threat of camp closing forever, they're almost out of time.

Review: I enjoyed this summer camp read! I loved that it was a theater camp and that the mystery was Shakespeare themed. The book had pretty decent character development and world building. The story was interesting and it kept me reading until the very end to figure out the whodunit. I also enjoyed the riddles even though I didn’t understand them. I also appreciate all of the useful material at the end of the book!

However, I knew it wasn’t going to be so good for me when the book started off with 2 full pages of characters. I did have trouble remembering all of the characters, there were a lot, and reading an ebook made it hard to flip to the front of the book to check who was who. I thought that the book was a little on the boring side in the beginning until about halfway through the book and that there was just so much slow pacing throughout the read.

Verdict: I liked it!
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Twelfth, a reference to Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and the play the campers are to perform at the end of camp, is a unique middle-grade novel of mystery, suspense, self-awareness, and the need each person has to be seen for who they are. Told in dual timelines, one set in the summer of 2015 and the other beginning in the early 1940s and continuing into the 1950s, two distinct plots wend their way toward each other until they come together in one remarkable story. I was completely immersed in both tales and appreciated how the characters from each one experienced similar struggles. I was gripped by how each set of characters chose to handle being outside societal norms and the impact on their choices that a 60-year separation in time had.

Maren and Theo are great characters. Maren arrives at the camp in a total funk, but she is actually pretty game to get things going and the summer done. She’s never sullen or whiny, just really disappointed, confused, and torn about what is going on with her family. She’s ready just to endure it all and surprises herself with what a good time she has as she works through the mystery and her personal feelings. Theo is so upbeat and delightfully driven to follow their dreams. I loved their daily vests and quest for extras in the cafeteria. I admire anyone who can take on the opinions of others like they did and come out on top. Allegra is perfect as the pair’s antagonist; we all know THAT girl.

Most of all, I loved the twists and turns the story makes. Just when I thought I knew where things were going (and they eventually do get there), the author threw a fantastic curveball. Easy to read, with a satisfying conclusion, I was delighted, inspired, and very entertained. 

Diverse and well-drawn, the characters in Twelfth felt realistic. I thought they could easily match the random makeup of people and personalities one finds in real life. The exciting story held my attention; I would have happily read the book in one sitting, and I feel even reluctant readers would stick with it. I recommend TWELFTH to readers who enjoy a fun and exciting mystery with true-to-life personal issues complicating characters’ lives and those who want some insight into the hearts and minds of someone who doesn’t fit society’s gender molds.
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I requested Twelfth as it sounded quite an intriguing mystery but when I came to read it I found that the story was a bit of a mix bag and to be honest it could of been a whole lot better.  Not a bad first novel.

Twelfth is trying to be a lot of things but only succeeds in the mystery part but only because the Charlotte Goodman chapters were short and snappy while Maren's were far too long which made me put the book down.    Usually I eat up my Middle Grades but got frustrated at the length which could of been easily sorted by adding extra chapters.   I get that Janet wanted to cover the subject of Mental Health she did a good job to an extent but I think she could be more successful if she did a separate story concentrating on Hadley and Maren's relationship.  I also didn't think that Maren was a strong main character but Theo on the other hand really made the book and  in my opinion saved the book.  To me Sal and Graham were just there .   As for the other characters I found Allegra was very annoying and again just another mean girl who really used words beyond her years like "power couple".  As for the Baddie they were just so OTT and reminded me of a very bad pantomime character and did a disservice to the book.

I do believe if Janet kept to the Mystery side it would of been a very different story and for all these reasons Twelfth is getting 3 stars
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This middle grade mystery is set in a theater camp and gives me amazing nostalgia to my days in drama club! 
It has all the Shakespeare references, the quirky (and not so quirky) theatre kids, the drama and of course the queerness. 
It's got alternating chapters, set in 2015 and the 40s/50s and great voices. 

If you liked Truly Devious and are now looking for a middle grade mystery with a bit lighter vibe and more theatre kids, Twelfth is the way to go. 
It's such a fun book and I'd really recommend it! 
4/5 ⭐
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Maren’s sister is struggling with depression after her first year of college. Maren feels like a burden to everyone, but that doesn’t mean she really wants to spend the summer at her sister’s favorite summer camp. But, when she’s dropped off, she is dropped into a mystery maybe only she can solve – is there a ghost at camp? Is there someone out there trying to find a mysterious treasure that might save the camp from financial ruin?

As a theater kid myself, I thought this was a fun summer mystery that will keep kids entertained but won’t scare them too much. Listed as middle grade, I would definitely say it’s for older middle school kids. It deals a great deal with identity, gender fluidity, and finding who you are. I thought the main story of Maren, Theo, Graham and their goofy friendship and hunt for the treasure were great fun. Incorporating Charlie’s story provided a solid background for the camp, the treasure, and the real jewel of the story – finding and embracing who you really are.
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So many great things in this novel! A heartwarming middle grade story about overcoming adversity, being your true self and pursuing you dreams. A tale of love conquering all. A testament to the power of theatre. An LGBTQ+ representation. 

I was a little disappointed in the cartoonish villain element. So much of the story was strong and realistic, while this part was just a tad campy. 

Thank you to TBR and Beyond Tours and Netgalley for my free copy. These opinions are my own.
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As a theater teacher this would be such a fun read for my studetnts. I think it is really fun summer read at a summer camp that focsues on some many element that are typical to middle school student friendship drama and family drama. It also really dives into the process of putting up a show and waht the process is looks likes. I think that was my favorite part of the book. There is also a strong LBTQ+ storyline in this whole book. There is also a duel timeline in this book that is focused on sloving the mystery of the diamond in this story. This book did have some pacing issues but as theater fan it brings back so many memories!
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My expectation of Twelfth is about a silly treasure hunt around a theatre camp, but what I received was a story of people finding their lanes without the pressure of becoming someone else. It's a mildly heavier topic for a middle-grade novel, yet it is actually a timely discussion for pre-teens who are already in the age of exploring their identity and passion.

Through the course of the novel, Janet Key implements a concept of parallelism between Maren and Charlotte Goodman, the subject to whom the diamond ring is assumed to belong, where she indicates that their similarities and differences do intertwine—creating equally meaningful respective journeys for the protagonists of the novel. The rich conceptualization of the premise never feels too dull for a novel geared toward teenagers, for its heftiness is tamped with the simplicity of its exposition; Janet elaborates the story in a way that makes sure to have the readers engage with the mystery, heightening their curious senses as much as the characters who are searching for clues around the camp.
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Thank you to the publisher, Little, Brown Books, for providing me with an advanced copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The first thing that I want to say about Twelfth is that it was incredible. I didn’t know what to expect when I went into this book because the description was kind of vague, but I ended up loving this book. It was full of Truly Devious vibes, and I cannot recommend it enough.

Twelfth is a mystery book. A mysterious slip of paper ends up in Maren’s possession on one of her first nights at summer camp. Eventually, she realizes that it is a clue, and one clue leads to another. What follows is a mystery that will leave you at the edge of your seat, trying to figure out what will happen next. The story goes back and forth between the past and the present, and it really makes for a fantastic and wild ride.

Unsurprisingly, I loved the characters in this book. I thought Maren was brilliant, and I wanted to give her a massive hug. I liked reading about her trying to solve the mystery, but I also liked reading about her trying to come to terms with her sister’s mental health issues. I liked that she wasn’t perfect and that, at times, she was selfish and angry with her family. I loved Theo, who was non-binary. I loved their interest in filmmaking and how close they became with Maren. I also loved that Maren corrected people when they used the wrong pronouns when referring to Theo. I also liked the other two side characters who helped Maren and Theo solve the mystery.

I liked the flashbacks to the past. I liked the glimpses of Old Hollywood and learning about Charlotte Goodman. I don’t want to say too much because I don’t want to spoil anything, but I thought Charlotte’s story was great, and I loved the LGBTQIA+ rep.

I also loved the mystery aspect of this book. I liked that each clue led to another clue. It reminded me of a treasure hunt, and I was very invested in the outcome. Unfortunately, though I read Twelfth Night in High School, I really don’t remember much of it, so a lot of the clues went over my head. I did appreciate the ties to Shakespeare, though, and I liked that the clues were tied to the play.

I also liked the rep in this story. I am not part of the LGBTQIA+ community, so I cannot comment on the accuracy of the rep, but it was nice seeing a non-binary character in a middle-grade book. I also thought it was nice to see Charlotte Goodman’s story in a middle-grade book, and I hope to see more rep like this in middle-grade books in the future. I also liked that there was a conversation with Dr. Jennifer Feldman at the end of this book about gender diversity.

I also liked the setting of this book. Generally speaking, I like boarding schools and summer camps. I loved that this book took place at a theatre camp, and I had a lot of fun reading about the characters learning about theatre and putting on their production of Twelfth Night.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I loved the characters, the setting, the mystery, and the rep. If you liked Truly Devious, you should definitely consider checking out this book. I cannot wait to see what this author writes next.
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This was a really fresh take on a middle grade contemporary novel! I rather enjoyed it!

The plot was what drew me to the book. I love books with a camp setting, and I do enjoy reading up and learning more about Shakespearean plays, so this was a perfect book! And the entire mystery aspect was super amazing as well! The mystery was carried out perfectly, and I for one, couldn't have predicted the exact ending. I did predict a part of it, but definitely not the entire thing!

I loved the portrayal of all characters, but Theo was my favourite! I also wish we had more depth to Hadley's situation, but in a way, that was well-carried out too. I do hope the author writes a novel on Hadley, I'll definitely read it!

Writing style:
This was where the book lacked a tad bit, but overall, it wasn't too bad!

100% recommend if you're a lover of theatre and mysteries!
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Thanks so much to Janet Key and Netgalley for an early copy in exchange for an honest review! 

I loved Twelfth! Twelfth Night is my favorite Shakespearean play, so it was amazing to see it represented not only with LGBTQ+ characters but an honest, wholesome hilarity that shaped the novel. Maren is such a relatable, real character, and the way that the timeline switched back and forth between the two time periods kept me hooked the whole way through. With a mystery, a summertime feel, and a twisting storyline, Janet Key has truly paid an amazing tribute to the playwright!
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I really enjoyed this book! Maren is such a sweet character and I loved the way how theater expanded hr horizons. The diversity was also great and I really enjoyed reading about all the characters.
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This book would be perfect for a kid who knows a lot of theater and Shakespeare who is interested in solving riddles and a mystery. As someone who doesn’t know a ton of behind the scenes information about theater, the mystery was hard for me to follow but picked up toward the end in a high stakes situation to solve the mystery and save camp. I love the inclusion of the historical flashbacks and information about identifying as non-binary in history and facing things like the lavender laws. I will be researching more as it was fascinating. I liked that the inclusion of LGBTQIA characters was a casual and accepting part of the plot. The kids stuck up for each other against bullying but it was more focused on the adventure than a sad story. I also think Maren’s feelings about her sister’s mental health were very accurate and relatable to anyone who has a sibling getting treatment for mental illness.
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