Sunday, March 18, 2018

[Book Review] Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

Book Review of Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

When I first read the synopsis of Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson, I couldn't wait to get my hands on a copy of the book; it just screamed murderino!

But unfortunately, this one was a miss for me...

Let's dive in.


Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

Synopsis: 
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.


My thoughts:
Honestly, if I had known this was a trilogy, I probably wouldn't have picked it up. I was so frustrated with the pacing and then with the "To be continued..." at the end. Ugh. The very last page was so out of the blue it left me more annoyed than anything.

The characters also fell a bit short for me. I didn't like the main character much at all, so of course that put a major damper on my reading. But I also didn't care for any of the side characters either.

I thought the pacing was wicked slow and I found myself getting frustrated with that. There was also quite a bit of repetition and many errors with formatting and grammar that I noticed. On numerous occasions, I realized that I had no interest in picking the book back up when I had taken a break. But of course, I stubbornly pushed through.

The book didn't really interest me until I was very close to the end. But then, of course, when things started being revealed, it felt rushed and a bit sloppy to me. And then it just abruptly ended, much to my disappointment as I didn't know that this was a trilogy.

Overall, I think this is one that I enjoy the idea of more than I enjoy the actual work, unfortunately.

I'm on the fence with whether or not I'll continue with the series. Part of me is interested to find out what happened both in the current timeline and in the past, but a larger part of me just doesn't care. But who knows! Maybe I will read the second book and have better luck.



Thanks for reading! 
Let's end this one on a better note with some passages that I really enjoyed:

Let if go, for real. Go full Frozen. 

Stevie had no fears of the dead. The living, however, sometimes gave her the creeps.

There is something about early mornings that changes your perceptions subtly. The light is new; no one has put on the defenses of the day. All is reset and not quite real yet. 

34 comments:

  1. Oh I thought this was a standalone too! Not sure if I'd want to start another Johnson series when she still has others I'm waiting for her to finish. I thought it screamed murderino too!

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    1. I may have to check out some of her other work! But I don't think this series will be for me... We'll see! :)

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  2. Oh, wow. I'm so sorry you didn't like this, Erica! I've never read a Maureen Johnson book before, but I already have this impression that I won't like her books. The writing definitely sounds like it lacks any sort of effort, and I'm not willing to put myself through that!

    - Aimee @ Aimee, Always

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    1. Yeah... This was my first attempt with her work and it certainly didn't leave a great first impression :(

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  3. I loved this one, but I do get your issues with the pacing. For a long time the only thing keeping me going was the flashbacks. I didn't know it wasn't a standalone either so I was pissed with the cliffhanger, but I'm stubborn so I'll probably continue. I just need to know things! Great review.

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    1. :-D I may read the next book because I'm wicked stubborn and also want answers... but we'll see! I totally agree, the flashbacks were what kept me going.

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  4. You know what, I'm not sure mystery books work well as trilogies. I think I'd be okay with it if there was a new mystery with every book and the trilogy focused on a scooby gang so to speak. Yep, never good when you can't bring yourself to care about any of the characters.

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    1. I 100% agree! There needs to be some closure at the end of each. I enjoy major cliffhangers every once in a while when they are down well! But this one was just ridiculous.

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  5. Oh no, you're the third trusted blogger with not-so-favorable thoughts. Seems like everything now a days is a trilogy so I kind of assume that going into YA. Is that horrible?

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    1. I'm the same way... I was always weary of the second book in the trilogy issue. But now it's pushed me to prefer stand-alones over trilogies, simply because they seem to have become the norm.

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  6. Sigh, I'm sorry this didn't work for you. I've read another review that was really similar. It sounds like it's way too much set up for the first book and not enough plot.

    -Lauren
    www.shootingstarsmag.net

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    1. Yeah... It was such a bummer. The synopsis sounded so good!

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  7. Repetition is so frustrating, especially in a series book, because then it seems it could've just been shortened and made into less books!

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  8. Not liking a main character is usually the death knell for a book I'm reading. I'm a totally character-driven reader so actually disliking the MC? Doomed. LOL Add that to the slow pacing... and that ending... ugh. Like you, I'd probably be (mildly) curious as to how it plays out, but not enough to continue the series. Sorry this one was such a miss for you, Erica.
    Tanya @ Girl Plus Books

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    1. For sure! There are only a handful of times where I have liked a book when the MC was unlikable.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  9. I totally agree with you. I was interested int he case from the past but everything in the present, including the characters, fell flat for me.

    And then it...just ended lol

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

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  10. Aw man, I thought this was a standalone! That's a little disappointing...Sorry to hear this one was a miss for you Erica. The slow pacing has me worried, but I already bought a copy of this a couple months ago, so I guess I'll see just how slow it is soon!

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    1. I was quite sad when I realized it was a trilogy... But I hope you enjoy it a lot more than I did! :-D I can't wait to see what you think!

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  11. Aw man. I haven't read this yet so I hope I have better luck. I read 13 Little Blue Envelopes by her a long time ago and found it okay but forgettable. Sorry you weren't a fan :( I hope your next read is something you enjoy!

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    1. I hope you have better luck with this one too! :)

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  12. Too bad...

    I didn't realize this was part of a series until now. I want to try it sometime myself, so we'll see what I end up thinking of it.

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    1. I can't wait to see your thoughts! I hope you have better luck!

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  13. Aw man, the premise sounded so good! But I think I'm going to pass on this as well, since I like my books to have a slightly fast pace! Great review :)

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  14. I am sorry this one didn't work for you. I really loved it, and am excited for the next book. I really enjoyed Stevie and her love for true crime, and I found the intertwining of the mysteries interesting.

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  15. I keep hearing this one is a disappointment and that ending is killer. I guess I’ll pass.

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    1. Yeah, I unfortunately couldn't recommend it... :(

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  16. I didn't know this was going to be a trilogy either! I thought it was a standalone. I have read a contemporary by this author before and it was just okay but not brilliant enough for me to continue reading it.

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    1. Yeah, I think this may be an author that's just not for me. Thanks for stopping by! :)

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  17. You did photograph the book rather well ;)

    Love the feature photo.

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    1. haha thank you! It didn't turn out quite the way I was imagining, but it was pretty close! :)

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