Saturday, January 13, 2018

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

Title: Truly Devious
Author: Maureen Johnson
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mystery/Thriller
Source: HarperCollins via Edelweiss

New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson weaves a delicate tale of murder and mystery in the first book of a striking new series, perfect for fans of Agatha Christie and E. Lockhart.

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.

The two interwoven mysteries of this first book in the Truly Devious series dovetail brilliantly, and Stevie Bell will continue her relentless quest for the murderers in books two and three.
Review by Nara

Second, I think Truly Devious may actually be my favourite novel from Maureen Johnson that I've read. And I have read quite a few of them.

Truly Devious is a mystery/thriller novel set at the remote Ellingham Academy (literally on some isolated mountain in Vermont). Ellingham is famous for two reasons. The first is that it was set up by the richest man in the world. The second is that it's the place where a triple murder took place involving the owner's wife and daughter. Main character Stevie is accepted into the prestigious school based on her desire to become the first person to solve the murder.

Initially the book is quite slow, and I do have to warn you that it takes quite a while to finally get into the story properly. However, once you actually get into the book, it is ridiculously compelling and there are so many twists and turns in the plot. The pacing is excellent, and the only bad thing about the plot itself is that there is a cliffhanger ending.

A lot of the characters are actually quite annoying. Even the protagonist could be mildly irritating at times, but strangely this didn't affect my enjoyment of the novel that much. It kind of felt like a quirk of the characters that they were overly characterised e.g. there was this one character named Element (Ellie) who was basically the epitome of manic pixie dream girl.

Overall, as I stated before, I recommend this to everyone. I'm eagerly awaiting the release of the next book.

Overall: 9/10
Plot: 4.5/5
Romance: 3/5
Writing: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Cover: 2.5/5