Review: Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

TDAs with many books I’ve read, I was drawn to Maureen Johnson’s Truly Devious because of the cover. (Seriously, look at it. Can you really blame me? 😍) But then I was hooked by the synopsis, which appealed to both my love of stories about quirky high school kids and my combined interest in/fear of true crime. (Speaking of true crime, my co-worker recently recommended a podcast called And That’s Why We Drink, and it’s both a paranormal AND true crime podcast! I’ve been binging episodes on Spotify. 10/10, would recommend. Just don’t listen to it at night, in your empty house, right before you go to bed… Bad idea. 😱)

Not sure what this book is about? You can find a short synopsis here! 🙂

What I Liked: Despite my fascination with true crime, I don’t actually read many mysteries. But I was especially intrigued by the setting of this one. I don’t know why, but I’m always fascinated by stories that take place at boarding schools, prep schools, or old, prestigious colleges. (Maybe it’s the stuffy academic in me. 🧐) Ellingham was one of the most interesting parts of this book, and while I enjoyed the descriptions of the Great House, Minerva, the Art Barn, and the various secret passageways, I wanted to see even more of the campus. Hopefully we’ll return to the school in the next book. (Although, considering the events of this one, I suppose that remains to be seen… 🤔)

I liked Stevie a lot, as well as Janelle, Nate, and Pix. I’m still not sure how I feel about David, but I do have a soft spot for characters with complicated backstories, and I’m curious to see what happens with him in the next book. I didn’t really like or dislike the other characters — they were sort of just there, and that’s actually fine with me. I think they worked well to keep the plot moving and establish a group of potential suspects. And I think Johnson handled the two separate timelines very well. In books with multiple timelines, I often feel drawn to one more so than the other(s), but I was equally interested in both.

What I Disliked: I knew going into this book that it had a cliffhanger ending, and that it was the first book in a series. But I almost feel like there are too many unanswered questions at the end of Truly Devious, and that — had this book been a little longer — some could have been addressed. 🙁 While a big part of me is looking forward to reading the next book… another part of me wishes that this had just been a standalone. And this is a small complaint in comparison, but there’s something that Stevie wonders if she actually saw, or if her sleepy brain merely conjured it, and I have to say, I wanted much more finality regarding that. (I’m being vague to avoid being spoiler-y. If you’ve read — or when you read — the book, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.) Was it really there? Was it not? I NEED TO KNOW. I absolutely think that’s one of the things that could have been firmly resolved in this book.

I finished this book in two days, so it’s clear that I enjoyed the mysteries enough to keep going! And like I said, I’m definitely interested in reading the second book when it comes out. But I’m hoping that it answers more questions than this one.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

About the Author: Maureen Johnson
More Books by This Author:
The Shades of London Series
The Scarlett Series
The Blue Envelope Series
The Key to the Golden Firebird
On the Count of Three
Girl at Sea
Let It Snow (co-written with John Green and Lauren Myracle)
The Bane Chronicles (co-written with Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan)

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