Truly Devious (2018) *Spoiler Free* Review // Soo Good But Barely A Mystery!


Truly Devious (Truly Devious, #1)

TITLE: Truly Devious

AUTHOR: Maureen Johnson

SERIES? Book 1/3 “Truly Devious” Trilogy

GENRE/ AGE RANGE: Young Adult, Mystery

TRIGGER WARNINGS: panic attacks (Lexapro mentioned), kidnapping, anxiety, sexism, underage drinking, use of the word cr*zy, murder, death

PUBLICATION DATE: January 18th, 2018


actual rating: 3.75/5

 “this is a real, no one can hear you kind of place”


The writing is good, it’s not difficult to read or convoluted or anything like that. It reads really realistically and the main character, Stevie reacted really realistically for a teenager. Finding cringey things cringey,  like a mum forcing you to make friends and being overbearing but you’re a social outcast and more of an introvert than an outrovert.
Honestly, I feel like this book would appeal to most teenagers on some level. Either you’ve got some form of mental health problems (anxiety etc.) or you’re an introvert or your love murder mysteries, maybe all 3. Either way, this is the first book I’ve read in a while where the teens are actually acting like teens and I’m really digging it.

  • I kind of love Stevie and I really appreciate her voice.
  • MAJOR Sherlock Holmes vibes/comparisons and I’m McLovin it
  • Okay, but for real, Stevie’s fascination with murder mysteries and old cold cases is completely relatable!


So, I actually have a surprisingly big gripe with this book, so hear me out here. I haven’t read too many mystery series but I need to say this. I have read Truly Devious before and the one thing that got me was how this doesn’t end in any satisfying or sensible way. Like, I’m all for a cliffhanger but you can’t call this a proper series if none of the books have a satisfying ending to a story and instead it’s just one large story spread over 3 books. It’s okay to have an ongoing mystery but there needs to be little things solved and other storylines going on to make it seem worth the read and not like a massive cash grab if that makes sense? Like, if you want one BIG mystery then write a longer duology, don’t split it into 3 books because it’s a Young Adult story. Nothing about this book feels complete, and I think that’s what bothers me about it.

  • Honestly, this book is marketed as a mystery but I was roughly 40-50% and I still didn’t know almost anything about the mystery and I think that says a lot about the book. And can honestly be said for the whole trilogy. It’s much more focused on romance and the school versus the actual mystery.
  • Can I be honest, I was having a lot of fun until the romance started? I don’t know why but I would have preferred any romance to start in book 2 and this book to just focus primarily on Stevie and the intro of the mystery. Or, in a perfect world, no romance at all and just use that page time to focus on strengthening the friendships and other relationships and promoting and working on the mystery. OR, instead of trying to make up for that lost page count, just make this trilogy a longer duology. I don’t think that YA means every book has to be roughly 300-400 pages, books can be longer than that and they don’t all have to include romance.


  • Did anyone else get HIGH KEY autistic vibes from Stevie??
  • There’s not many, but there are enough modern references to give you a rough idea of when this is set, but not to stick the reader in a time frame they won’t understand in 20 years which I think was a really smart decision.
  • This book is also a surprisingly good example of how hard it is to live with or have family with different beliefs/political leanings to you. There’s a lot of “just stay quiet until they’re finished and you can leave” in here when Stevie’s parents are in town and that’s totally relatable, for me at least, so I appreciated that aspect to Stevie’s character too.
  • Nate is a GOOD friend – I really hope Nate will end up a Watson-like character.
  • Don’t finish reading this at night if you’re a wimp like me! So spooky!


Okay, so I enjoyed this a lot more than I did the first time, and I really appreciate Stevie as a character + I really like how Maureen Johnson writes mystery and suspense. But I still have a lot of the same problems with this book that I had the first time, this entire book is build up and that really bothers me. I definitely enjoyed this enough to want to continue on in the trilogy though!




8 thoughts on “Truly Devious (2018) *Spoiler Free* Review // Soo Good But Barely A Mystery!

  1. Oof, I think I would get really annoyed reading this series too if the books always ended with cliffhangers 😕. Cliffhangers are fine, but there still has to be some sort of resolution in each story, like you said. Nice review, Ellyn 🙂!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I enjoyed this series, but I definitely agree with you about how it’s one mystery spread out over three books. I think that because of that, I didn’t really enjoy the last book as much as I enjoyed the first two. I feel like as the series progresses, the “big reveals” are less and less impressive because there isn’t much more story left to tell. I think the series may have functioned better as a duology rather than a trilogy, but despite all my complaints I still would recommend it to people 😂 Great review!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, it’s weird but I really think it should’ve been written differently in that sense! I agree I was a bit over the mystery by the end because of how spread out it was! That’s what I’ve been saying! Duology over Trilogy!!

      Thank you, Chana!


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