Truly Devious: An amazing YA mystery you won’t be able to put down!

truly devious book
Series Number: 1
Page Count: 416
Author Maureen Johnson weaves a tale of murder and mystery in the first book of a new series. 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…

Non-Spoiler Review


I loved loved loved this book! I read it when it first came out, and my reread was even better. The audiobook is great. The narrator is Kate Rudd and I think she did an amazing job capturing everyone's voices. Better than I could have for sure.

Stevie is such a great character. I love how she thinks. She is so smart but can be awkward at times. She is also an aspiring detective. She is super obsessed with one case, in particular, the Ellingham murders. These murders took place right after the Ellingham school opened. So it's super awesome when she gets to go to the school where the murders took place, and to make it even better, her project for the year is solving the case. But this case is not the only one she will end up working on.
This book was such a fun read. The mystery of it all made it hard for me to stop listening when I had to. All the characters in here have such different personalities which worked well. I loved seeing everyone get to know each other and have to live together! What a fun place to go to school! I also loved that we have alternate chapters from the now, Stevie and her adventures, and the past, right before and after the kidnapping and murders. It gave me more insight into the case, and I loved that!
Truly devious is full of many twists and turns and hidden things. It is my first book that I've read by Maureen Johnson, but definitely not the last. And that ending! I can not wait to get my hands on the next book!!!!

Character love

Stevie - Love this girl! I love how she thinks, I love how she figures things out, and I love how she sees the world. She is insanely smart. I loved how she went into this new school wanting to solve this case but also wanting to make friends along the way. She is such a strong character. I'm excited to see what all she uncovers in the next few books!
David - I liked David right away. I didn't fully trust him because I had a feeling he was hiding something, just wasn't sure what. I loved his relationship with Stevie. It was fun to see him get on her nerves but watch her handle it so well. He made Ellingham fun for sure.
Janelle - Love her! She is so totally opposite of Stevie, but I love how they are friends anyway. I think that Janelle is so good for Stevie. And she wants to be her friend as much as Stevie wants to be hers. I love their friendship throughout the whole book.
Nate - Nate has to be one of my favorites. I love his personality. He reminds me a lot of Stevie, but a little more of an introvert and a tad stranger. He made me laugh, even though he wasn't even trying to be funny. I really love Stevie and his weird friendship. It was perfect.
Larry - Larry is the security guard at Ellingham. I really liked him a lot. I'm glad he was there to watch over everything there and to try to keep Stevie in line, which isn't easy to do.
Element - Ellie, is what they call her for short is this artsy fun girl who is very strange in many ways. I loved her. I loved her weirdness! She was a fun addition to this awesome group of people. And I love her name, Element. Totally fit her personality.
Hayes - I wasn't a huge fan of Hayes in the beginning. Just got this weird feeling about him. He grew on me over time, but I knew he was hiding something.

Spoilery Review


Spoilers Ahead
















I had a feeling that I would love this book as soon as I read the synopsis. I love mysteries. I was scared that it would disappoint me like some other mysteries in YA have. But thankfully it didn't. This book had me hooked from the beginning and I didn't want to put it down. The characters were so fun to read. Now... on to my thoughts...
  • The Ellingham case intrigued me from the beginning.
  • Little that we learn about Dottie, I already liked her. So sad what happened to her. She was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
  • From the get-go, I was trying to figure out who kidnapped Iris and Alice. I really liked Albert. His personality, and how he loved games, and especially his vision for the school. I really thought it was an awesome idea.
  • I kept thinking that maybe the chick and that guy had something to do with the kidnapping and murder. I could totally be wrong, but I still feel like they are up to something.
  • I already don't really like Stevie's parents. They are so different than Stevie and can't see all the potential that she has. I especially hate that they love Edward King. Like seriously, who can be that supportive of him. Ugh.
  • I am so happy for Stevie that she is finally at Ellingham. I love her first encounters.
  • Her meeting Hayes for the first time was funny. He pretty much made her put all her stuff up, and once it was done he said he was busy. Oh, Hayes.
  • Her and Janelle finally meeting of the first time was awesome, so was her and Nate! I love how they have all talked to each other before they met at the school.
  • Stevie's thoughts on Ellie was hilarious.
  • I think it's such a cool concept to have the students there pretty much pick what they want their projects to be. I loved the counselor who showed Stevie the attic and everything in it. What an awesome experience to go through everything. Plus it helps us to learn more about the case as well.
  • I felt so bad for Albert throughout the whole book. I can't even imagine. And the fact that he thought Alice was still alive and would get her presents for her birthday was so sad. I knew right away it wasn't the man who admitted it. There is no way.
  • Every scene with David and Stevie is my favorite!
  • I did not like that Hayes was using Stevie and Nate to write this screenplay and everything. You could definitely tell that Hayes doesn't want to do any work.
  • I am glad that Nate helped out though. I thought it was cool that Nate and Stevie got a chance to get to know new people.
  • I couldn't believe that someone killed Hayes! Everyone said it was an accident of his own doing, but I knew, like Stevie, that there was more to it.
  • David and Stevie kissing. I knew it was going to happen, was just waiting for it.
  • I knew that Hayes didn't write his whole youtube thing. But I had no idea who did it.
  • When David tagged along with Stevie and her parents. He is such a funny guy. At this point, I still had no idea why he was lying about his parents.
  • I was so sad that Stevie looked through David's stuff. I understand why, but I wish she would have had more self-control, that, or that David didn't catch her. I really did hate that he got so mad like that.
  • I was so glad that Stevie had new information to try to figure out about Hayes death. I hate that she kind of secluded herself from everyone else.
  • Loved loved loved that Nate came in and told her they were going to that silent dance. He is such a great friend. Seriously. Such a great part.
  • Stevie's idea to have everyone go back to the rooms and play that game was genius. I honestly don't think it is Ellie. After finding out that she was the one who wrote the show, I don't think she could have killed him on purpose. And I don't think she moved all the dry ice by herself. I'm not sure exactly what happened but I know it wasn't on purpose.
  • I hate that Ellie ran. I know she was scared, but it made her look guilty. I'm kind of glad she got away.
  • Wow. That. Ending. David is Edward Kings son!!! I need to know what Stevie is thinking!!!!! I need the next book right now!

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