Parents' Guide to

Truly Devious, Book 1

By Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Clever murder mystery at truly hip, mature boarding school.

Truly Devious, Book 1 Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 11+

Based on 3 parent reviews

age 10+

Simple, yet exceptionally good book; tweens can handle it.

TRULY DEVIOUS is a really good/and exciting murder mystery that tweens can handle. I think ages 10-12 are perfect, at least not 14-- it is something tweens can handle. The book goes from past to present and its about Stevie who wants to solve a murder. Of course you would expect lots of gruesome, bloody violence but there's not much of it. Only some mild blood- - but nothing tweens can handle, and the violence is not explicit its pretty mild. Most of the ''violence'' is talking about murder, than showing/describing any dead body-- except in one scene where they find a dead body (not gruesome nor gory; limited injuries) Besides that, there is some language still not offensive to one and other just to show expression. Still, its not really a problem as tweens will be captivated by the amazing mystery and adventure the book has, so they wont focus much on the language (language is mostly infrequent).There's some mild romance of teens, but nothing to racy-- or raunchy-- tweens can handle as this is the age where they start to like each other/feel attracted and that's all the book has. Mild drinking is also frequent, but nothing to excess-- and no one gets heavily drunk/or dangerous, but do expect very mild drinking at parties which is completely normal. Again, romance, language and alcohol, isn't really serious as the tweens will be captivated by the amazing mystery/adventure the book has, so they will probably forget about the ''inappropriate'' stuff. The story also follows messages of bravery, teamwork and perseverance. Stevie is brave, strong and is willing to work with other students. PS: Some amazing science facts are briefly explained in the book. For kids who have read mystery books they will definitely enjoy this one! I recommend Truly devious for kids aged 10 and up, if they are mature. If children are not ready by the age of ten, you may want to wait until they are 11-12 max. Children (pre teens/tweens) should read this book by a young age, because as they grow this title/book may not be as captivating as it is for tweens now. If your tweens are sensitive they should start at age 11-12. You may want to have a talk with your tween and ask them if they are Ok with the book. If they say anything you may want to take the book away. Besides that, this is a good book 10 year old's will enjoy!

This title has:

Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
1 person found this helpful.
age 11+


this book was fantastic! it's the first one in a 5-part series and definitely a great start. i would say kids around 10-11+ can read it because the plot is interesting only until a certain age, and then it may become a bit outdone. there isn't much violence (nothing a tween/early teen cannot handle!) and the romance/sex is nothing to worry about. there are a few straight and opposite-sex kisses, however, they are mild and, in my opinion, pretty disney-channel type. the violence is also gentle and mostly just conversations and references. in terms of drinking/drugs/smoking, a student drinks, the main character plus her friends do not drink other than a few sips, and there is a mention of smoking and vaping. the language is okay and okay for 10/11/12 year olds to read.

This title has:

Great messages
Great role models

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (3):
Kids say (21):

Like the author's Shades of London series, this trilogy start takes place in a hip boarding school that readers immediately will want to attend, even if there's a murderer in their midst. It's that cool. There's a study yurt, snowshoes issued to everyone -- it's Vermont -- a mansion, secret tunnels everywhere, and the students have fascinating fields of study. There's an opera singer, a visual artist, a video game maker, a novelist, an inventor, and an actor/YouTube star, for starters. And there's Stevie, who studies crime and wants to study everything about Ellingham Academy, where murders took place in the 1930s. The story jumps back and forth between 1936 and the present, cleverly piecing together brief stories and detective interviews from the past until a death of a student in the present pulls the reader into two complex cases at once. It also pulls the intellectually focused Stevie into an uncomfortable realization: She said she always wanted to see a dead body, and now she's facing the reality of it, with the shock and loss that goes with it. Her growth as a character adds depth to the story.

Readers will devour this mystery quickly and may be disappointed that so many loose ends remain. There's setup here that seems meant for other books in the series -- lots of time pawing through Albert Ellingham's desk tchotchkes and pondering the last riddle he wrote, for example -- making Truly Devious not stand alone as well as it could. But it does promise intriguing books to come.

Book Details

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