Hellooo lovelies! Happy Saturday! We’ve made it to the freaking weekend, thank the gods, right? I hope you all kicked some major butt and got stuff done this week 🙂 Today I’m coming at you with a good ol’ book review and, if you’ve read my wrap up for February, you probably know I already loved this book. If you want a quick and dirty review, please go check out the wrap up, this will just be some more thoughts and whatnot.
All Stevie Bell wanted was to find the key to the Ellingham mystery, but instead she found her classmate dead. And while she solved that murder, the crimes of the past are still waiting in the dark. Just as Stevie feels she’s on the cusp of putting it together, her parents pull her out of Ellingham academy.
For her own safety they say. She must move past this obsession with crime. Now that Stevie’s away from the school of topiaries and secret tunnels, and her strange and endearing friends, she begins to feel disconnected from the rest of the world. At least she won’t have to see David anymore. David, who she kissed. David, who lied to her about his identity—son of despised politician Edward King. Then King himself arrives at her house to offer a deal: He will bring Stevie back to Ellingham immediately. In return, she must play nice with David. King is in the midst of a campaign and can’t afford his son stirring up trouble. If Stevie’s at school, David will stay put.
So. I have thoughts. This book was a RIDE, man. Maureen Johnson knows how to grab a reader’s attention and pull them into the story, I’ve thought that since I read 13 Little Blue Envelopes and that honestly hasn’t changed since that novel, I honestly think she’s grown so much as an author and honestly is kind of my go-to when I want something non-fantasy. Anyway, like I was saying, this story was as engaging and twisty as the first, and while the overall story gets 5 stars from me, there were things that I didn’t think needed to be in the story or that I think should have been expanded on/used differently.
THE FIRST THING that I thought maybe should have been expanded on was the situation with Edward King. I thought him agreeing to let Stevie back into Ellingham meant there would be more involvement from him, but it just seemed like he only called when something bad happened. It was something that was easily concealed and, considering how much our main character worried about Mr. Heartthrob David finding out. I don’t know, maybe there was some underlying reason, or maybe all Mr. King cared about was a scandal getting out about his kiddo, but that kind of…not irked, but confused the hell out of me, buuuut with all that went down I had more to think about lol.
Very much like the first book we got a lot of back and forth from the present with Stevie and the gang and the past to two students (who I’ll call Bonnie and Clyde because that’s how they’re described and I can’t for the life of me remember their names) and others who were around during the actual Ellingham murder. I really like this format because it’s like we’re getting two stories for the price of one. The author has a way of picking the smallest detail and using it to tie the two time periods together, in this case it was Bonnie and Clyde and their obsession with the criminals of the time. These weren’t my favorite chapters, but I thought they were interesting enough and added to the story (ESPECIALLY AT THE END BUT I DON’T WANT TO GIVE SPOILERS BECAUSE IM NOT THAT PERSON).
Something that I don’t think added very much to the story was Stevie’s…internship? I don’t even know if it could’ve been called that, but she was introduced to a “crazy” professor who was also interested in the mystery surrounding the school and needed someone to do research for her. Enter Stevie who jumped at the chance. I don’t know, I felt like this wasn’t used in the best way? I say that because, literally it felt like we met the professor, Stevie did her thing, enter potential new love interest, and then that ending happened (once again I’m not that spoiler-y person lol). It was just abrupt. I know it will probably be explained in Book 3 but I DON’T WANT TO WAIT.
I could honestly go on, but I’ll leave ya’ll with one more thing I need to gush about and that is the main character. There were moments when I was like “COME ON STEVIE YOU’RE BETTER THAN THAT,” like the whole situation with Edward King and David, but there were other moments when I was so enthralled with how Stevie’s mind works and how she connects things that I would look at and say, “Nah, that’s just a photo stuck together with glue, nothing special” or something. It really makes the reader want to figure out the case before Stevie and honestly, I keep tip toeing around the ending, but I honestly don’t know who did the thing or how that thing connects to the main plot BUT I DON’T CARE I’m probably going to devour the last book like I did this one, haha.
Please give Truly Devious a shot! It’s one of my favorite YA mystery/thrillers and it’s just an overall funny, cute (I know, weird way to describe a book about a murder) story about a girl sort of finding where she wants to be/feels like she belongs.