Mauren Johnson has a new mystery/murder/boarding school series, Truly Devious, and I was just out of my mind delighted with this. I am already a gigantic fan of boarding school + mystery stories, but this one raises the bar by adding the fact that this school is in the middle of nowhere, you can only get there (and also out of it) with the one road leading out of it. Which makes everything even more thrilling and exciting. Because if something happens you will be stuck. You can’t just run away.
The book follows Stevie as she is accepted to Ellingham’s school of awesomeness. She has a mission, to solve the mystery/murders that happened when the school was just build. Yep, Stevie loves crime, well, not in the she wants to commit a crime, but more that she loves to find out what happened, she wants to solve mysteries, she wants to find out what makes people tick. I just adored that she was so dedicated to this and that she knew so much about. And I love that the school even helped her grow further by giving her special lessons that would help her later with her career in the FBI/CIA/Detective stuff.
There were a few moments that had me not liking Stevie that much. That she didn’t stick up for herself when Hayes asked her all sorts of things, that she totally went into things so deeply she forgot about her new friends, and worst of all, that she went through people’s rooms. I get that she wants to solve mysteries, but I found this pretty rude of her.
But her mind is pretty amazing. Whereas others may have tried and given up on stuff, she keeps on going. Like the Truly Devious stuff, the kidnappings, and what happens to a certain character later on, she sticks to it, goes through it all in her head, makes a board with all the connections, grabs books, goes through all her research. She might get a bit dedicated, and maybe she should learn to not drown in it, especially with her anxiety still around the corner, but I am sure that the school can help her out with that.
The book is split up in the now and then. Now is Stevie, then is Ellingham, the kidnappings, the missing student. We see how it all started, we see interviews the police held with the people who were present at that moment, we see everything unfold, yet it seems this is only scratching the surface of what is going on, I feel there is so much more that is going on. It seems multiple people are hiding secrets, and there is more to this story than meets the eye. I do hope that in the next book we will see more about the events, and maybe go even deeper into it. Plus I am really curious about that last riddle that Ellingham left behind. I have tried cracking my brain, but the only thing I did was hurt it.
Janelle was my second favourite character. I do love a girl who can build amazing stuff out of nothing and can fix anything and everything. I also loved what she did for Stevie when Stevie had that panic attack. Plus I quite like the friendship between Stevie and Janelle, they instantly bonded.
David, and why Stevie thought she knew him? I knew from the moment this was said: “In that first moment, Stevie had the feeling she had met David before. Something about him that just had a suggestion of… something she couldn’t place. Something that made her brain itch.” who he could be, and why she recognised him. The hints are there, and they are pretty clear. The author doesn’t reveal anything until the last few pages, making it a pretty good cliffhanger as I definitely want to see Stevie reaction to this news. 😛
I do have to say that I never liked David. I am not sure how to explain, but for some reason he just annoyed me. His attitude, the way he treated people around him, the way he was with Stevie. Plus I did think it was pretty eh that he kept who he was a secret and even lied about it. On the one hand I can understand, he liked Stevie (well, at least he says he does, I never saw it) and he knows that if she knows who he is that it will break them apart faster than a bull can break glass in a glass-shop.
So yeah, I wasn’t rooting or shipping Stevie and David together. Not at all.
The story remained exciting from the start to the finish, there is really never a dull moment. There are exciting moments everywhere, and even the more normal days still bring something fun/special with them.
I loved reading about the school, about the dorms, and I kept wishing I could go there as well. It seems like such an awesome place. Way more fun than normal schools, with more attention to individual needs and likes.
Plus of course the other buildings there were also interesting, there is so much still hidden. Then there is the tunnel and the observatory, I wouldn’t dare staying there for long, but I would love to visit it. Maureen Johnson really does well with describing the setting, I could really see me walking around the campus and surrounding area.
I only have one fear, that this series will end like Shades of London. A series that I dearly loved, and which never got an ending. So I am crossing my fingers and praying to the writer gods that this series will get a good ending, that it won’t be left dangling in nothing.
Well, I could go much longer about this book, but I will just say this: READ IT! READ IT NOW! It is amazing, exciting, thrilling, fun, and you won’t be able to stop reading. I can’t wait for the next book, I need it now.