Published by HarperCollins (1.16.2018)
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery
Format: Audiobook, 416 pages
Length: 10 hours, 12 minutes
Narrator: Kate Rudd
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.
The two interwoven mysteries of this first book in the Truly Devious series dovetail brilliantly, and Stevie Bell will continue her relentless quest for the murderers in books two and three.
This one was overall just meh and not at all memorable. I had been craving mystery-esque kind of books when I picked this one up, and I guess I was just wanting (and expecting) much more from this story. It was lacking the driving intrigue of a great mystery that keeps you reading because it’s, y’know, mysterious, and you want to know more. This one did not have that at ALL. It’s labeled as a thriller but wasn’t even the least bit thrilling in any way. I feel like nothing really happened until the end, and then I was so put off by the story that I didn’t care anymore and was left woefully underwhelmed.
The characters were flat and inspired zero emotion. The only good thing character wise that this book had going was that the main character had anxiety, and I feel that was portrayed very well. Other than that, every single character felt fake and one-dimensional. I didn’t care about any of them, or anything that was happening. This is my second time hating a Maureen Johnson novel and I think that maybe her writing style is just not for me.
The narrator was terrible, too, which didn’t help this book at all. She over enunciated everything like she was TRYING to sound like a robot. Do not recommend the audio.
Writing style: 3/5
Overall rating: 2.5/5
Come Find Me by Megan Miranda
Published by Crown Books (1.29.2019)
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller
Format: Audiobook, 336 pages
Length: 9 hours, 56 minutes
Narrator: Michael Crouch, Jorjeana Marie
After surviving an infamous family tragedy, sixteen-year-old Kennedy Jones has made it her mission to keep her brother's search through the cosmos alive. But then something disturbs the frequency on his radio telescope--a pattern registering where no signal should transmit.
In a neighboring county, seventeen-year-old Nolan Chandler is determined to find out what really happened to his brother, who disappeared the day after Nolan had an eerie premonition. There hasn't been a single lead for two years, until Nolan picks up an odd signal--a pattern coming from his brother's bedroom.
Drawn together by these strange signals--and their family tragedies--Kennedy and Nolan search for the origin of the mysterious frequency. But the more they uncover, the more they believe that everything's connected--even their pasts--as it appears the signal is meant for them alone, sharing a message that only they can understand. Is something coming for them? Or is the frequency warning them about something that's already here?
This one fell quite flat for me, which is a shame because I was pretty hyped for it. (This was another book I read in my mystery seeking phase.) Not to say it was terrible, I just think I built my expectations too high at the beginning of the story. The mystery aspect was pretty decent – two story lines converge, drawn together by a strange signal. I was suuuper intrigued by the signal! That intrigue was what kept me going and was a cornerstone for me (which is probably why the ending pissed me off so much), because there’s not a whole lot going on in the middle of this book. The narration was quite good, but I didn’t connect to the characters like I’d hoped I would.
I did enjoy it for the most part…until the ending. I think the ending is what ruined it for me. This is where my expectations were shattered and the result that I was tragically disappointed. I was fully expecting this to be a sci-fi, or at least have some supernatural aspect. I thought there was going to be a really cool reveal about the mysterious signal, and then there just….wasn’t. It was literally nothing.
Writing style: 2.5/5
Overall rating: 1/5
Night Shift by Alex Finlay
Published by Minotaur Books (3.1.2022)
Genres: Adult, Mystery, Thriller
Format: Audiobook, 368 pages
Length: 8 hours, 34 minutes
Narrator: Brittany Pressley, Cady McClain, Devon Hales, Gary Tiedemann
It’s New Year’s Eve 1999. Y2K is expected to end in chaos: planes falling from the sky, elevators plunging to earth, world markets collapsing. A digital apocalypse. None of that happens. But at a Blockbuster Video in Linden, New Jersey, four teenage girls working the night shift are attacked. Only one survives. Police quickly identify a suspect who flees and is never seen again.
Fifteen years later, in the same town, four teenage employees working late at an ice cream store are attacked, and again only one makes it out alive.
Both surviving victims recall the killer speaking only a few final words. . . . “Goodnight, pretty girl.”
In the aftermath, three lives intersect: the survivor of the Blockbuster massacre who’s forced to relive her tragedy; the brother of the original suspect, who’s convinced the police have it wrong; and the FBI agent, who’s determined to solve both cases. On a collision course toward the truth, all three lives will forever be changed, and not everyone will make it out alive.
This is one of those stories that I enjoyed while reading, but it didn’t stick with me at all. I did enjoy it while I was listening (the narration was pretty good!), but even after a week I could barely remember anything about it.
I was happy that it wasn’t predictable. I didn’t guess the ending, which is unusual for me. I love when a story can surprise me, so this book at least had that going for it! It was also a quick and easy read, and the pacing was fast enough to maintain my interest. The main reason this book is only 3/5 and ended up being overall kind of mediocre for me is because I had zero feels about the characters or the story. I was interested to see where things went and who did it, but overall I didn’t really care what happened to any of the characters.
Writing style: 3.5/5
Overall rating: 3/5
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