Truly Devious // anyone want to solve true crime with me??

Once upon a time, I used to be an audiobook hater because they were so sloooow. Why would I want to listen to an audiobook read 2 words per minute when I could read it myself faster?? But then I discovered this beautiful thing: the triple speed button. Yes, I am one of those people. I listen to audiobooks in the voices of speed up helium chipmunk. It is a glorious thing to multitask.

In the case of Truly Devious, I would say the format of the book caused problems. There were alternating timelines and viewpoints happening in the book and it got to be a touch confusing. I’d recommend sticking to the physical or ebook version. Fair warning.

Book: Truly Devious

Author: Maureen Johnson

Published January 16th 2018 by HarperCollins

Format: Audiobook

TW: Alcohol, Anxiety, Character death, Drugs, Kidnapping, Murder, Panic Attack, Sexism

Overview: Ellingham Academy is a famous private school in Vermont for the brightest thinkers, inventors, and artists. It was founded by Albert Ellingham, an early twentieth century tycoon, who wanted to make a wonderful place full of riddles, twisting pathways, and gardens. “A place,” he said, “where learning is a game.”

Shortly after the school opened, his wife and daughter were kidnapped. The only real clue was a mocking riddle listing methods of murder, signed with the frightening pseudonym “Truly, Devious.” It became one of the great unsolved crimes of American history.

True-crime aficionado Stevie Bell is set to begin her first year at Ellingham Academy, and she has an ambitious plan: She will solve this cold case. That is, she will solve the case when she gets a grip on her demanding new school life and her housemates: the inventor, the novelist, the actor, the artist, and the jokester. But something strange is happening. Truly Devious makes a surprise return, and death revisits Ellingham Academy. The past has crawled out of its grave. Someone has gotten away with murder. (from Goodreads)


Stevie is eat, sleeps, and breathes true crime. Above all, she aims to solve the infamous kidnapping case at Ellington Academy: the Truly Devious case. Stevie truly knew everything there was to know on the case, so it was super interesting to get into her head and understand what clues she was piecing together.

The Truly Devious crew was a charming one. The way they worked together in chaotic harmony was so fun. All of the characters were very unique and interesting to follow. Add boarding schools and secret passages to the mix and you have a fantastic mystery squad.

Not entirely character related, but character adjacent so I’m going with it. I don’t even know what the romance is in this book. All of a sudden these two characters just starting making out and I was like woah woah woah, where did this come from?? I did not see the chemistry and I openly despise one party involved. Not a fan.

The writing feels a bit choppy sometimes. The way certain moments were phrased just felt really sterile. I wanted the writing to feel more emotional and connect me to the characters a bit more. Instead it did the opposite, disconnected me from the characters and took me out of the story.

The dialogue was slightly better, but only by a bit. Certain conversations felt very forced.

I can not believe that the book ended the way it did. I need to know what happens next. I mean I kind of got some weird vibes from one person, but I didn’t expect THAT. It was cleverly woven into the story, without it being a glaringly obvious neon sign flashing ITS ME! I murdered people! come and find me.

I like how the overarching mystery will continue into the next book. The details from both the past and present are still pretty vague. I know enough to be interested, but not enough to become uninterested. It was that teetering balance that I live for when I read mysteries. The cat is yet to be debagged and I am here for it.

The overarching mystery pulled me in and makes me twitchy to read the next book. It took me a little longer to get through this one because of a disconnect with the writing, but it was still an enjoyable read. If you are a fan of mystery, boarding schools, or unique casts of characters then Truly Devious will be your jam!

11 thoughts on “Truly Devious // anyone want to solve true crime with me??

  1. oooooh I’ve wanted to read this one for a while. I love mysteries and this sounds like such an interesting one! Hopefully I’ll get to it in 2021

    Question: I was just looking on goodreads and saw you rated this book in may. Do you write your book reviews way in advance or just have awesome book memory or what?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! It is definitely worth checking out. The entire series gets better as it keeps going too!!

      Answer: I have a whole ~process~ when it comes to writing reviews. I did read this back in May and I took notes of every thought, critique, thing I liked while reading it. Then a week or so later I turned those thoughts into complete sentences. It has been sitting in my Google Drive ever since. I needed a review to post so I pulled it out, dusted it off and bedazzled it. So long story short I wrote this a while back but slightly edited to get it ready. I wish I had that good of memory but i probably couldn’t tell ya what i are for breakfast this morning so…

      Liked by 1 person

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