Truly, Madly, Deadly by Hannah Jayne (Book Review)

July 11, 2013 Book Review, Young Adult 8 ★★★½

Truly, Madly, Deadly by Hannah Jayne (Book Review)Truly, Madly, Deadly by Hannah Jayne
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on July 2, 2013
Pages: 262
Format: ARC
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
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3.5 Stars
Sawyer 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."

Oooooo. I really love creepy mysteries, and I’ve been reading very few as of late. Anyone else noticed that plain old suspense, without paranormal or magical elements, is pretty rare in the YA book world? Or am I looking in the wrong places. Anyway, I was SO excited when I read this book’s summary. And it was a lot of creeptastic fun!As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. So, Sawyer is being stalked by some secret admirer who wants her complete and undivided attention. And honestly, I think she handles things really well… until this admirer starts framing her for all the tragic mishaps that have happened in town. She has no idea who this person is, who she can trust, where they will strike next, and how to stop them. This person sees her every move. This person has, unbeknownst to her, been in her house. She feels completely alone, with nobody to confide in. So she hides in fear, pretty much dealing with things internally. This situation would make anyone freak out, and she does. Not only is she secretly recovering from an abusive relationship and the death of a guy she loved once, she’s now being targeted by a psycho. As she tries to figure out what’s going on, flashbacks from her relationship with Kevin keep bubbling up in her mind. I was in an abusive relationship once, so I really identified with her. She knew she was worth more than she was being treated, but it was so hard to stand up for herself. And then he died. Everyone thought he was so amazing, and that they were an amazing couple. Everyone kept checking in on her and consoling her, all the while not knowing she was almost relieved to have escaped the violence from him. This girl has baggage, and I’m not sure I’d be able to handle everything the way she did. I’ve noticed a few reviewers mention that they really did not like Sawyer because she was weak, and lacked a little in good judgment. I didn’t feel that way at all. Sawyer gained strength as she dealt with all this, and I think she learned a lot about herself. Her weakness was believable, and sometimes it’s nice to see a heroine act human. 

2. Hannah Jayne’s story-building was so exciting. There were so many ups and downs as Sawyer received more and more cryptic notes and more “accidents” happened to the people she knew. I was glued to the pages!

3. I grew up reading mysteries, yet the ending of this book completely blindsided me. Usually I have a pretty good idea who the culprit is. I seriously had no clue things would wrap up this way. And I’m kind of unsure as to how I feel about it.

4. I think my biggest criticism is the fact that major elements of the book fell to the wayside in order to make room for the mystery. We get very little character analysis and development, and very little focus is made on Sawyer’s home life (her parents split, and the new woman lives with her and her dad… and she’s pregnant). Honestly, I can’t remember the names of anyone in this book and I actually had to look up Sawyer’s name before I started my review.

All in all, this book is a wonderful mystery. I enjoyed the suspense and the creepiness, so I was ok that the characters lacked memorable qualities. As a result, my review is rather short and vague, but that’s ok too. If you’re looking for a plain old, bare bones scare, this book is for you! It’s a quick read that will keep you up at night and make you jump 4 feet high when your cat pushes your bedroom door open and climbs in bed with you.

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8 Responses to “Truly, Madly, Deadly by Hannah Jayne (Book Review)”

  1. Kazhy

    Great review! Glad to know this wasn’t predictable at all. “…I actually had to look up Sawyer’s name before I started my review.” < - That's not a good sign, though >_< But I'm still looking forward to reading this! – Kazhy @ My Library in the Making

  2. Brittany S.

    Oh that’s great to hear! I’ve only read one other review so far that wasn’t bad but it wasn’t positive. I’ve been craving more YA that’s just straight mystery instead of mystery wrapped in a paranormal or what have you. I’m curious to get to this one! :)

  3. Alexa Y.

    I’m always intrigued by the mysteries and thrillers that are popping up on the YA market! It’s fun to check them out and see how well they’re plotted, and I’m intrigued by the elements of this one.

  4. Jen @ Pop! Goes The Reader

    I always find it frustrating when heroines are bad-mouthed for appearing ‘weak’. All humans demonstrate some form of weakness at various point in their lives – That’s what makes them human! I don’t want to read about a character who is always strong, capable and makes the right choices. If that were the case, how would they ever have the opportunity to learn and grow from their mistakes? Talk about a dull story!

    Moreover, I hate the idea that a girl who was in an abusive relationship is perceived as ‘weak’. It ignores the systematic breakdown of a person’s self esteem and self worth that so often goes hand-in-hand with that sort of toxic relationship. To vilify someone for that is both cruel and ridiculous.

    Anyway, my rant aside, I’ve read a number of very positive reviews for this book and I for one can’t wait to read it! Like you, I love thrillers, and relish the opportunity to read ones that don’t have a paranormal or supernatural twist. While that can be fun as well, there’s something truly terrifying about this sort of story when it’s rooted firmly in reality. It examines the darkness of the human condition and character and serves to remind us that often times the greatest monsters are the men and women sitting right next to us. What can be scarier than that?

  5. Kim

    I love it when endings completely blindsides me. I also love thrillers and this one sounds like one really worth reading. I think it’s realistic for a character to start out ‘weak’ and it’s always nice to see their character arc as they change and grow stronger through the story. Great review :)

  6. Renae M.

    When reading a mystery, it’s so great when a plot twist surprises you, especially if you’re well-versed in the genre. I’m kind of at the point where it takes a lot to surprise me, so the fact the you didn’t see the end coming has me excited. It’s disappointing to hear that certain elements of the book aren’t as well-developed as you would have liked, though—characterization in particular. Characters are the most important aspect of a book for me, (even if they’re not strictly likable), so when you say the author let other things take priority over character development, I get a bit nervous, haha.

  7. Jaime Lester

    I liked this story alright. It definitely threw me for a loop. I had no idea who the stalker was, and usually I can figure it out pretty early on. But the mystery was the best part. Like you said, the character development wasn’t there, which is disappointing. Characters are the heart of a story, and when the characters aren’t well written, I can’t get into a story.

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