Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Maureen Johnson: Truly Devious


In the first of a new series, Maureen Johnson takes readers to an elite school that is shrouded in myth, mystery and murder:

In Vermont there is a school for the brightest thinkers, inventors, and artists; Ellingham Academy. Not only is the school for the brightest but the grounds and buildings were built in the 1920s by Albert Ellingham who was always found of riddles and games. Shortly after the school is opened Albert is faced with a deadly riddle after his daughter and wife are kidnapped, sadly this is one game that where the crimes will go unsolved and Truly Devious is never found. Enter present day and True-crime aficionado Stevie Bell who is determined to be the first to solve the mystery.But Stevie was not prepared not only for the demands of school but for Truly Devious to make return and soon Stevie as more than one crime to solve.

This is the first book that I have read by Johnson so I was interested in seeing where she tool the premise of the book and how well it would unfold in the YA genre. This book was a joy to read as well as an easy read and hit me at the right time as i was looking for something along these line that was not all doom and gloom. This book really is a light read considering it is center around murders but I think how Johnson decides to tell the story made it feel this way.Johnson decided to give the information about the murder and missing persons case from the 1920, a mixture of events told from that time, interviews as well as the video production that Stevie finds herself a part of.

This book has your typical high school students stereotypes in it but a times takes them to the extreme as this school is supposed to have the best of the best in each subject or career path, so there are times when I found some of the secondary characters a bit annoying. Additionally as this book is based in high school you do have the moodiness of youth that age as well as some teenage drama with the main character, Stevie. I found that at times these events/emotions took away from what should be the primary premise of solving the 1930s murder and then the present day one as well. I think there is a part of Stevie that we as readers will all like and relate to. I mean isn't trying to solve the mystery in each book we read true crime or not part of the joy of reading? I know it is for me, this is why I really liked Stevie as a character Teen Drama and all.

Of course this book ended on a cliffhanger so that means that I am wanting to read the next book in the series, The Vanishing Star which is coming out later this year (2019). Even if there wasn't a big cliffhanger I would continue on just for Stevie.

Enjoy!!!
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Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Deon Meyer: Fever

Deon Meyer takes the reader to South Africa where the majority of the worlds population has been wiped out by a mysterious Fever:

Nico Storm and his father Willem are traveling through South Africa looking for a safe haven. As they pass ravaged town by ravaged town they do not see any hope in sight. Willem has an idea, start their own safe haven in a town that will soon be called Amanzi. They appeal to those who are of good nature and want to better not only themselves but others too. But as with all places that offer safe haven there are those who will prey on them and as towns become bigger and bigger there are always people who will disagree. This is Nico Storm's memoir of survival and the eventual murder of his father.

This was a pretty big change of pace for me, it was not so much action, suspense and darkness but more about a son and father trying to survive in a new world (but less dark and depressing than The Road). There is a mystery here so that really held my attention especially as Meyer mentions it very early in the book, but where Meyer really shines is in his storytelling and character development.

I really loved the multiple points of view as you got more of a perspective for each situations as well as getting to know the back story for many of the people who now lived at Amanzi. This was incorporate through the Amanzi history project which essentially was a recording of the personal experiences of the individual as they came to Amanzi. While the main narrator is Nico Storm (as this is his story to tell) he incorporates the recordings from the history project to both agree and disagree as to what actually happened. Much of the story takes place when Nico is a teenager so this did skew his perspective and as Nico is looking back telling this story it makes sense to add the additional information from mainly adults.

I liked that is was set in South Africa as this a different settling for me and I felt the wildlife and conditions of South Africa just seem more extreme to me than other places in the world. This perspective is probably dues to the fact that I have not had a chance to travel there yet (hopefully one day) but for me the setting was unique.

This book lets you know from the very beginning that Nico's father Willem Storm is going to be murdered and that even we have met the murderer along the way so it was very engaging to try and figure out who it was going to be. You start to weight each conversation that Nico had as well as the information that is shared through the history project. I did not see the twist coming at the end, so Meyer was very nicely able to surprise me which I always appreciate.

This is the first book that I have read by Meyer and I am very interested in checking out his other books. I really enjoyed his storytelling ways and his development of the characters in Amanzi. Highly recommended especially if you like books where society and the human race need to start over again. I honestly wish there was another novel after this one or even a novella to see where some of the main characters are now

Enjoy!!!
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