The Hand on the Wall / Maureen Johnson
A bunch of us at work were super super into the Truly Devious series, so there was a bit of clamouring for first dibs when the third book came out on Overdrive – my boss won, by dint of being the one who made the purchase, and therefore knowing exactly when it had been added to our library, but I came in a close second!
As with many series, the sequels don’t really live up to the first book. I felt like a lot of this book was a little rushed, and could have done with more editing – some parts especially were very ham fisted, and I could almost have done without them.
I find this to be an issue in a lot of YA lately, where there’s almost a pressure to be as diverse and inclusive as possible, which leads to a lot of authors drawing attention to how much their characters represent all walks of life – but that takes a reader out of the moment. If the only thing your character adds is a “representative”, then really, are they serving any real purpose?
I’m sure it’s much easier for me to say all that sitting here and reading it than it is for people who are trying to write more inclusively, but I’m going through a course of institutional racism in libraries, and the whole point about how white people never have to name their whiteness really stands out to me in books of this sort.
The book itself was okay I guess, but if the first book had been of this calibre, I doubt I would have been as excited about the series as a whole. The conclusion to the mystery was rather unexciting, and felt quite unsatisfactory and anticlimactic. I’m pretty sure if I were Stevie and I solved the mystery of the century and that was the solution, I wouldn’t feel very proud of myself. Knowing how it ends, I don’t think I’d really recommend the series as much as I did when I’d only read the first book.