Book review: Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson
Series: Truly Devious #1
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: AmazonTBDGoodreads
Publication Date: January 16, 2018
Source: Borrowed

Ellingham Academy is a famous private school in Vermont for the brightest thinkers, inventors, and artists. It was founded by Albert Ellingham, an early twentieth century tycoon, who wanted to make a wonderful place full of riddles, twisting pathways, and gardens. “A place” he said, “where learning is a game.”

Shortly after the school opened, his wife and daughter were kidnapped. The only real clue was a mocking riddle listing methods of murder, signed with the frightening pseudonym, Truly Devious. It became one of the great unsolved crimes of American history.

True-crime aficionado Stevie Bell is set to begin her first year at Ellingham Academy, and she has an ambitious plan: She will solve this cold case. That is, she will solve the case when she gets a grip on her demanding new school life and her housemates: the inventor, the novelist, the actor, the artist, and the jokester. But something strange is happening. Truly Devious makes a surprise return, and death revisits Ellingham Academy. The past has crawled out of its grave. Someone has gotten away with murder.

Truly Devious has been on my radar forever, it just took me awhile to get around to actually reading it. June’s Monthly Motif (Crack the Case) was just the push I needed to actually dive in. To start off, I guess I should say that this book was completely not what I expected. I don’t know what I was expecting, but not this!

Anyway, I really liked Stevie. She’s a true crime fanatic, she fancies herself a detective, and she’s almost too curious about everything going on around her. She gets herself into some trouble with her snooping. And her parents just don’t understand! I’m definitely not a Young Adult anymore, but I related to Stevie so much.

First of all, I’m 28 and I feel like I’m still having this conversation with my mother:

Her parents had no idea that you could meet people outside of school and it wasn’t freaky and the internet was the way of finding your people.
(I think the next generation of parents will have a totally different outlook on this.)
But also, this quote about anxiety!!!

People say depression lies. Anxiety is just stupid. It’s unable to tell the difference between things that are actually scary (being buried alive, for example) and things that are not scary at all (being in bed under the covers). It hits all the same buttons. Stop. Go. Up. Down. It’s all the same to anxiety.

It’s like Maureen Johnson took the words straight out of my head.
I don’t even know what to say in this review because I feel like I’m going to spoil everything, so let me just say that I liked:
  • the setting! I love boarding school books!
  • the teensy bit of romance that develops between Stevie and one of her classmates!
  • the totally platonic friendship between Stevie and a different classmate!
  • Stevie’s ability to make weird connections in the two different mysteries!

I didn’t really like:

  • That cliffhanger!
I just need The Vanishing Stair right now.

#mm18: crack the case

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24 thoughts on “Book review: Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

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