Truly Devious, by Maureen Johnson (audio)

Eighty years ago, there was a kidnapping and murder at the Ellingham Academy, a special school for individual learning in Vermont. Stevie Bell, a new student at Ellingham, is determined to solve the cold case. Then a new mystery arises, with a warning: the supposed former culprit, Truly Devious, is back.

This book was a lot of fun. It alternates between excerpts from the past and current-day events through Stevie’s eyes. Stevie is a fun character, a misfit in her family that suffers from severe anxiety and is obsessed with criminology. Her anxiety disorder and coping mechanisms are spot-on, as well as her awkward attempts to fit in with other students. The other characters and students at the academy are well-written, too, and I love seeing all the different kinds of people walking around the campus. (It was fun to casually meet a nonbinary character, even if they were only a side character!) The mysteries were also well-written, and the book had a great suspenseful pace that didn’t let me put it down. (Metaphorically, since it was on audio.) At the end, after getting to know more of the details, I had to go back and reread.

There were only two things I didn’t like about the book. I didn’t particularly enjoy the audio narration by Kate Rudd. Nothing against her – generally I’m just not a fan of the way YA books are read on audio. However, I think it’s a testament to the quality of the story itself that I not only kept listening, but listened twice. The second was about closure. This is the first in a series, and I’m okay with that – however, the book ended without any conclusion at all. I would have been fine had one of the two mysteries been solved and another new possibility opened up, that kind of thing. This felt like it just stopped in the middle of a story, though, and it’ll be quite some time before the next one releases. I’ve heard some people say that they wish the book had been a standalone, and I understand that sentiment because it really does feel like I’ve read 3/4ths of a book and was unable to read the rest. That’s frustrating. I’ll likely reread it when the next book comes out and head straight into that one.

About Amanda

Agender empty-nester filling my time with cats, books, fitness, and photography. She/they.
This entry was posted in 2018, 2020, Prose, Young Adult and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Truly Devious, by Maureen Johnson (audio)

  1. Holly B / Dressedtoread says:

    I started listening on Audio and enjoying, but want the book to follow along as well! I get distracted and want to read and listen!


    • Amanda says:

      I’m looking forward to looking over the physical copy when it arrives from the library, but I knew it would take awhile so I decided audio would have to do.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Holly B / Dressedtoread says:

        I ordered myself a copy from Barnes and Noble because it looked so pretty! hehe and it has a map in it. I am still listening though…wish that copy would hurry up!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Michelle says:

    Wait. There is one mystery that is solved at the end. I mean, the character running away when accused is a pretty good indicator of guilt, so we at least have one or two answers. I never felt like there was no conclusion. In fact, I thought she did a good job of wrapping up a few plot points without giving away the long game.


    • Amanda says:

      I didn’t feel like that one was solved. Stevie starts questioning the likelihood of that, thinking it’s too easy, liking pinning the old murder on that immigrant who confessed. It all felt too open-ended, especially with that dream/light thing still hanging over it all, and there were too many unanswered questions for me. I’m not all the way through my second read (about 1.5 hrs to go as of typing this) so maybe it’ll feel more finished then? I don’t know though.


  3. Pingback: The Vanishing Stair, by Maureen Johnson (audio) | The Zen Leaf

  4. Pingback: The Hand on the Wall, by Maureen Johnson (audio) | The Zen Leaf

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