Wednesday, February 26, 2020

The Vanishing Stair (Truly Devious #2) by Maureen Johnson-- Frustrating series that I want to finish??

The Vanishing Stair

Stevie's been sent back to Pittsburgh after the death of Hayes and the disappearance of Ellie.  Only Mr. King, her arch-enemy, can convince her parents to let her go back.  The problem with that is, Mr. King doesn't do favors without expecting something in return.

So now Stevie is back and she's supposed to keep an eye on David-- which is complicated for her now that she knows who his dad is.

Working with a local professor, Stevie begins to get closer to figuring out what happened at the school-- past and present.  But she soon realizes that she can't help everyone, and she can trust even fewer of them.

I have very complicated feelings to share about this book and series overall.

My thoughts while reading this book ranged from “I hate this book” to “how was this published” to “okay, this isn’t THAT bad” to “meh”.

I liked the first book in this series okay (review linked above). I didn’t love it and I got irrationally mad at the lack of ANY answers, but I thought that the historical mystery was interesting. I was hopeful that this book would dive right into that mystery and be way better than the first one. I was soooo wrong.

This book started out so incredibly boring and mediocre. The writing, the characters, the plot— everything screamed lazy to me. At one point l almost decided to quit this book and series forever, but I wanted the 400+ pages I read in the first book to be FOR something— mainly, finding out who kidnapped/killed the people in the 30’s mystery.

So I went along, rage reading— and magically at like 75% in, it got good!! Okay, maybe not good, but WAY better. THINGS actually happened besides people wandering around Ellingham being super annoying.

Here are some of the questioning thoughts I had:

  • If you're going to have a big, bad overlord villain in a book, you need to tell me why this person is as bad.  Stevie constantly refers to Senator King as evil, the devil, and monstrous, but are we ever told why??  She briefly mentions not agreeing with his political stances (doesn't mention specifics on what these are), and yes, he's a shitty father to David-- but those things don't add up to the antichrist status she assigns to him.
  • At one point, Stevie is on a plane with Mr. King and she wishes that the plane will crash (killing her in the process), so that world will be safe from Mr. King.
  • Ummm???  Am I missing something??  You want to martyr yourself and save the world from WHAT exactly?? I need to know beyond you say so.  It's lazy writing.
  • It takes some MAJOR suspension of disbelief to accept that this girl who isn't even all that special or smart just plays Nancy Drew for a few weeks and solves one of the biggest unsolved murder case in American history.  I mean, it's entertainment, so I'm trying to let this go, but it's hard.
  • None of these characters are compelling enough for a 3 book series. Stevie is okay, Janelle and her partner are barely there, the new characters added (Mudge & Hunter) could've been interesting but were so underdeveloped.  David is such a caricature, overly weird and obnoxious and exaggerated outbursts.  Nate is the only character that I feel like we know and want to know.
  • USE YOUR WORDS.  This is another book where the main conflict could've been solved with a few words being said.  Instead, these characters say nothing for no reason other than to create drama.
  • One of the big questions I had in the first book was why would Ellingham Academy want her there?  This book didn't help answer that, and in fact made me question it more.  It seems like the school is about to come into a bunch of money if the Ellingham kidnapping remains unsolved.  So why would they bring in this girl-genius detective to figure it all out?

I know you're probably thinking that there's no way in hell I would continue in this series......

And the fact that I'm reading the 3rd book right now might seem ridiculous.... I know.  But......

Ughh.  I just really care about the historical mystery for some reason.  Which I guess says something positive about the book.  The last 25% of this book picked up and I really started to get INTO getting the answers.  And now I am too damn curious not to see it out.

Hopefully the 3rd book will address the lazy- he's bad because I said so- villain, make David a little more bearable, and won't introduce an unneeded love-triangle.

OVERALL: It's kind of a mess??  I pretty much hated the first 2/3rds of the book, but it got better at the end????  I definitely wouldn't recommend this series, but I still want to finish it anyway for unknown reasons.

Date Published: 1/22/2019
How I got this book: Library (Audio)
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books/ HarperCollins

Add to your To-Read List!!

My Rating: 2.5/5

Character: Francis Josephine Crane
Book: The Museum of Intangible Things by Wendy Wunder

  • Francis idolized Bonnie & Clyde, so this book about friends on the run would totally be her style.


  1. I have mixed feelings about this series too actually. I mean I liked Truly Devious well enough but the whole Senator storyline kinda left me cold. the historical mystery though was more interestig to me. I just haven't summoned up the will to read the second book yet, and it doesn't sound like I'd like it that much, maybe... but I'm glad it did pick up towards the end! Maybe I should just get these from the library if I do ever keep going...

    1. Oh thank goodness!! I was feeling like the only one!! Yes, get it from the library-- they are readable books, but I'm not sure they're good??

  2. I actually really liked this series, but don't even get me started on King. When you finish, I will direct you to one of my blog posts, and it will click. This was my least favorite of the trio, but I still liked it. I think you will be happy with the last book. Lots of answers, and a lot of focus on the original mystery.

    1. I definitely need to talk to you when I finish.