Title: Truly, Madly, Deadly
Author: Hannah Jayne
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release date: July 16th 2013
Genre: Young Adult contemporary mystery
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My rating: 3 out of 5 starsSawyer Dodd has it all. She's a star track athlete, choir soloist, and A-student. And her boyfriend is the handsome all-star Kevin Anderson. But behind the medals, prom pictures, and perfect smiles, Sawyer finds herself trapped in a controlling, abusive relationship with Kevin. When he dies in a drunk-driving accident, Sawyer is secretly relieved. She's free. Until she opens her locker and finds a mysterious letter signed by "an admirer" and printed with two simple words: "You're welcome."
Truly, Madly, Deadly sounded right up my alley. I love when books combine mystery - in this case, the murder of Sawyer's boyfriend - and a more personal, emotional storyline - Sawyer dealing with the trauma of her abusive relationship. Sadly, however, not all parts of the novel impressed me: most of the mystery storyine is well done, but the emotional aspect is very underdeveloped.
The suspense is what I liked best about Truly, Madly, Deadly. The scary atmosphere is really well-done, and it had me wondering about the different suspects. The mystery turned out to be a lot more complex than I was expecting - I thought it would just be about finding out who had killed her boyfriend, but it's a lot more complicated than that. There are various murders in Truly, Madly, Deadly, all committed to "help" Sawyer, which kept me on my toes throughout the novel. Even when I was having problems with other parts of the story, the suspense is what kept me reading and what made me finish the novel within a day.
Despite the well-done suspense, there is one part of the mystery that I didn't like, which was the ending. The culprit became obvious to me fairly early on in the novel, but I kept hoping I was wrong, that Truly, Madly, Deadly wouldn't use this cliche. Sadly, though, the cliche turned out to be true: a predictable culprit with predictable motives. Asides from the predictability, the implications of this reveal of the murderer also frustrated me because it could be seen as regressive in regards to a social issue. (Sorry for being so vague, but I can't really talk about this without revealing the ending.)
Looking at Hannah Jayne's website, I can see that she is a mystery writer, so it would make sense that this would be the strongest part of the novel. Not knowing that going into the novel, however, I was expecting the emotional side of the novel and the character development to be a lot stronger. I was really looking forward to the interplay of the mystery with the trauma of Sawyer's abusive relationship, but the latter was poorly underdeveloped. The story doesn't start until after Kevin's death, and we only see their relationship in flashbacks, so it makes sense that the main focus wouldn't be the abusive relationship. But I still find it unrealistic how little Sawyer is traumatized by the abuse she has undergone. Especially the two new love interests (who seem to only be introduced to have more suspects for the mystery) frustrated me because Sawyer's relationships with them do not seem to be affected by her past all that much. The emotional implications of other issues in the novel are underdeveloped as well: the other murder cases deal with suicide, bullying, and sexual harassment, but these issues are never really addressed; they're simply used to move the mystery along. I understand that the mystery was the main focus, but I still would have liked to see the emotional effects be elaborated on more.
Truly, Madly, Deadly reminded me a lot of the Pretty Little Liars series - both have good suspense, but are still relatively lighthearted in regard to the emotional effects of these events and issues. I enjoyed the mystery, but I would have appreciated a more in-depth look at the emotional implications, characters that are more than plot tools and potential suspects, and a less predictable ending.