Review: Truly Devious (Truly Devious #1) by Maureen Johnson

Quick review for an enthralling read, for the most part. I think my reading of “Truly Devious” came at exactly the right time when my brain was craving a solid mystery to read. Definitely helped that it had a heroine that I could get behind (though admittedly, I was more intrigued following the heroine who started this novel in the prologue-verse. I can’t say more than that due to spoilers.)

This novel takes place on a dual timeline. The past centers on the foundation of a mysterious boarding school with rather interesting admission standards, but at the same time highlights a crime committed to the family that founded the school. Pieces of that crime are sprinkled throughout the book not just to draw intrigue, but also highlight a link to the present. The present focuses in the perspective of Stevie Bell, who makes it her mission to solve the cold case plaguing the school’s history for years. Stevie has interesting quirks and I like her personality. It’s cool to see her dynamic with the rest of her housemates and piecing together what she knows about the crime that happened to the founder. I liked that the pieces of the mystery are unveiled in a number of mixed portrayals – from audio transcripts to viewpoint perspectives from people who have stakes in the overarching mystery.

It’s especially telling to the tension when a crime happens on a campus already plagued by death and secrets. Stevie gets in over her head at times trying to find answers, but she has a few people helping her along the way. While a main conflict point ends up being resolved by the end of the novel, it’s not the end to the main mystery, rather a link to setting up the remaining books of the series. I definitely appreciated the cliffhanger upon finishing this book, but having some time to let it digest, I realized that I still wanted a little more from it. I definitely plan on reading the sequel to see where the story ends up and seeking more development of the characters within, though it may take me a while considering the # of holds on my library for the sequel are in the double digits. =\ Bah.

I really enjoyed “Truly Devious” for the most part and I could see myself coming back to it, particularly for the intrigue of the players in the past events and how Stevie ends up piecing together the details in the longer run.

Overall score: 4/5 stars.

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