Title: Truly Devious
(Truly Devious #1)
Author: Maureen Johnson
Genre: YA Mystery
Length: 416 pages
Publish Date: January 16, 2018
Murders, Violence, Underage Drinking, Drug Use
Japanese, Black, Middle Eastern,
Wheelchair, Anxiety (Stevie), Queer, Lesbian
(All minor characters, some only mentioned once)
I love mysteries! Especially when the main character channels Sherlock Holmes and other great literary detectives. Thank you so much to the best wifey in the whole world JaNae @ JHeart Loves Books for buddy reading this with me!
I’m still irritated at how it ends though, so I don’t know how good this review is going to be. Sorry.
Stevie (full first name is Stephanie, but don’t call her that) is a murder mystery podcast aficionado. She didn’t think that she would be able to get into Ellingham Academy because there isn’t anything specifically special about her, but she got in. Her goal is to solve the mystery of the Truly Devious murders. She also deals with anxiety and her friends have done a great job at supporting her through her panic attacks.
David is a second year student who doesn’t like to discuss anything about him. At first he seems like a jerk because he says some weird stuff to Stevie when they first meet, and honestly I didn’t like him either. Of course, when we finally figure out who he is, the book abruptly ends and that was just annoying.
Janelle is our POC STEM genius that loves to build things. She became friends with Stevie and Nate before they set foot in Ellingham, and she is such a sweetheart. It looks like she is gay, and after breaking up with her girlfriend prior to coming to school, she finds love with a queer character named Vi. They are cute together.
Nate is a published author, whose book came out at 14 years old. He’s trying to work on the sequel right now, but apparently when he’s supposed to be doing something, he does everything BUT that something. So if you tell him to do something else, he’ll be able to write like he’s being chased by the Gods. It’s amazing, really. He’s also pretty antisocial, but still cares about Janelle and Stevie as friends, and has put himself into awkward situations to help Stevie realize that he does care. It was very sweet of him.
Ellie is… interesting. She has no care in the world about her appearance or what others think of her. It’s pretty cool, actually but then there are times I don’t understand what she’s talking about. Just means I don’t understand her train of thought. Doesn’t mean she’s not understandable. Maybe you will.
Hayes is a YouTube star because he did this zombie apocalypse type of show that went viral. But as Stevie can see, he’s a user. And it looks like he knows it too.
Back in the 1930s, a young student named Dottie Epstein was murdered by a killer that went by Truly Devious. This took place at the Ellingham Academy, named after the creator of the school that wanted to create a new learning experience for gifted students. Things went wrong after that first murder, and the Ellingham wife and daughter were kidnapped.
In present time, Stevie has been accepted to Ellingham Academy, and it looks like Truly Devious is back to settle old scores. Can Stevie figure out this mystery that the officials weren’t able to solve back then? What about the new mystery that happens almost halfway through the book? Can she solve that one with her deductive reasoning skills?
Dun dun dun.
I personally love the friendship between Stevie, Janelle and Nate. I’m glad that they were able to get to know each other before going to Ellingham together and how they were able to deal with each other’s personality quirks while not trying to change each other.
I seem to have a thing for murder mysteries, and how Stevie channeled her inner Sherlock Holmes to make deductions on what she was seeing. I like that she didn’t allow others to ridicule her for her passions – although sometimes her anxiety would make her question a lot of things. I loved that her friends stood by her as much as possible. I love the concept of Ellingham Academy. The premise of the book was great.
There was no consent between David and Stevie when they kissed. Reading it, it looked like Stevie was into it, but there was no verbal or nonverbal consent, and that’s always something that bothers me. I didn’t save the quote but both times that they ended up kissing, it was one sided until the other person got into it. Also, Stevie never really liked David to begin with, so why make out with him? Although, I know you can’t really help who you are attracted to, but I just didn’t believe it.
Also, when Stevie was asking Janelle if she liked Vi, Janelle made sure to clarify that Vi identified as “them”. Stevie apologized and applied the correct pronoun right after that. However, whenever Vi was mentioned again in the narration, they were referenced as “she” instead of “they”. I don’t know if this was intentional or not, or if Stevie ended up forgetting, but I felt like if Janelle already established the correct pronoun for Vi, it should have been consistent even through the narration.
Also the ending. I hated the ending because what the heck. I need to know what the heck is going to happen.
I think I need to request the second book in about a month or so, or maybe even in December since the third one isn’t even coming out until 2020. That ending just really made me angry. Not completely in a bad way, but I felt like there was a lot of build up and we didn’t get much out of it? I’m still going to read the sequel though because I’m completely invested in this and I want to know what the heck happened to [REDACTED] but I’m just still salty about the ending.