Release Date: July 2, 2013
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
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." (courtesy of Goodreads.)
I went into Truly, Madly, Deadly not knowing what to expect. Was it a paranormal, a mystery, or a thriller? The synopsis leaves us dangling on a little cliff, not knowing what we'll see when we fall. Truly, Madly, Deadly is a classic psychological thriller, full of murder, suspense, and things that go bump in the night.
We meet Sawyer just after her boyfriend was killed in a drunk driving accident. She's at the awkward point where people are starting to get on with their lives and are both expecting her to get on with hers but at the same time are surprised when she isn't spending every second of the day in mourning. Sawyer is indeed in a difficult position, because she is both lost without Kevin and relieved that he's gone. Kevin's controlling, abusive behavior is revealed in a series of flashbacks throughout the books.
Sawyer is a pretty messed up girl - in a way that feels realistic given all the difficulties in her life recently. Her parents split up, her dad quickly remarried, and her mom moved across the country demonstrating that her job is a lot more important than her daughter. Sawyer is understandably unhappy about her imploding family, but handles things quite well - doling out a snarky comment and eye-roll here and there but largely going along without major rebellion. Her jerky dad, on the other hand, overreacts to everything Sawyer does and refuses to accept that he deserves any criticism for the difficulties in Sawyer's life. When you add in Kevin's abuse, you have a girl whose self-esteem is about as low as it can get, blames herself for other people's bad behavior, and places too much value in other's opinions.
Now to get to the thriller part...the body count gets pretty high in this book. No one is safe - boyfriends, best friends, teachers, family, Sawyer herself - anyone could be dead at a moment's notice. Not only are people dying right and left, but it seems like the evidence is pointing to Sawyer herself as being a suspect. Sawyer doesn't remember killing anyone, but she starts to question herself. Then you have the stalking. As a reader, I felt that prickly, shivery feeling up and down my back throughout the book. Someone is watching Sawyer and by extension, the reader. But who is it?
It turns out that I guessed the culprit very early on, but it was merely a hunch. The plot twisted so frequently that I wasn't sure "whodunnit" until the last few pages. There are so many different suspects and red herrings mixed amongst the solid evidence. As someone who isn't a huge fan of thrillers normally, I loved how Truly, Madly, Deadly kept me on my toes.
Truly, Madly, Deadly excels as a thriller, but is just okay on the contemporary YA front. There were too many stereotypical high school tropes for my taste. The former best friend/queen bee/mean girl/jealous rival. The geek. The hot new guy. Loyal, perky best friend. Crappy, largely absent parents. I particularly disliked the romance element, which happened way to quick and didn't have enough background for me to believe it. On the other hand, all these cardboard characters played important roles in the thriller plot, so they served their function. I thought the thriller element was good enough that I could look past the parts I didn't like as much.
If you're a fan of thrillers, you will love Truly, Madly, Deadly. Even if thrillers aren't a typical read for you, Truly, Madly, Deadly will keep you engaged and in constant suspense. I find the silent threat far more frightening than a huge scary alien running towards you. The unknown threat of Truly, Madly, Deadly is what made it deliciously fun.
Rating: 3.5 / 5
Here's How to Buy the Book!