Review: “Truly, Madly, Deadly” by Hannah Jayne

Truly Madly Deadly - Hannah JayneTitle: “Truly, Madly, Deadly”

Author: Hannah Jayne

Genre: YA contemporary, mystery, thriller

Publication Date: July 2, 2013 (Sourcebooks Fire – North America)

Source: NetGalley Review Copy

Summary: They Said It Was An Accident…

Sawyer Dodd is a star athlete, a straight-A student, and the envy of every other girl who wants to date Kevin Anderson. When Kevin dies in a tragic car crash, Sawyer is stunned. Then she opens her locker to find a note:

You’re welcome.

Someone saw what he did to her. Someone knows that Sawyer and Kevin weren’t the perfect couple they seemed to be. And that someone—a killer—is now shadowing Sawyer’s every move…

☆: 2.5/5 stars – great suspense, but bad stereotypes sunk this one for me like a stone.

Review: Oh, “Truly”. How badly I wanted to like you. While you scored some awesome points in the technical arena for worldbuilding, plot, and character building, in other more realistic areas, you totally failed. Moreover, you went and used a trope that not only infuriated me, but you once again cast a shadow over a dark past a certain group has been trying to get over for years within pop culture. While I can recommend “Truly” for its suspense, the rest? Not sure I can.

Okay, so: great, paranoid worldbuilding. Great character building when it came to Sawyer as the MC, but the main cast as a whole needed far more work. The plot was good as was the pacing – Jayne definitely knows how to write suspense, and keep tension on literally every single page. I liked that, and as that’s hard to achieve, I’ll give her props.

But what I wasn’t okay with were two things: the lack of post-abusive relationship PTSD reality, and the fact that this book (slight spoiler alert) plays on the much used Demented Homosexual trope for the climax and resolution (the ending) of this book.

I was very not okay with the latter of those two.

Speaking as someone of the LGBTQ community, I was pretty offended by the ending. I won’t say who or how the trope applies, but it applies. A lot of pulp fiction from the 30s onward played a lot on this trope, and it hasn’t appeared too much within YA. And I was hoping it wouldn’t – until this book. Don’t get me wrong – Jayne can write, and write well. But her choices in how she could have ended this book? They’re impeding progress in getting gay YA books published where the bad guy isn’t gay. This is going backward. And this is not okay.

The post-abusive reality: there’s a semi-love triangle, and Jayne has a huge continuity error here (or maybe she just didn’t think of it?) concerning Sawyer’s recent past with an abusive boyfriend/relationship. Guys, she wouldn’t be making out with two other guys after being physically/emotionally abused for so long. She’d be having PTSD episodes. She’d be having panic attacks. She would not be looking for new romance – she’d be looking to heal. And while I’ll admit using the stalker/love triangle parts of the story plays quite well into her eventual healing, Jayne’s continuity error makes it all the more unrealistic. Which, for thriller and mystery books (regardless of genre), is kind of important if it’s within the contemporary aegis.

So, this one’s a mixed bag. While on the one hand the writing is great in most technical areas, the reality parts are not only insulting, but damaging to social/civil rights progress within getting gay YA published as a whole. But that’s just how I feel – you may feel differently. “Truly, Madly, Deadly” is out now from Sourcebooks Fire in North America, so check it out and see how you feel about these issues. Stop by the blog on July 19, 2013 for a joint discussion on this book as apart of the blog tour, too.

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