Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Review: The Devil You Know by Trish Doller

The Devil You Know by Trish Doller
Publisher: Bloomsbury Kids
Publication Date: June 2, 2015
Rating: 3 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads):

Eighteen-year-old Arcadia wants adventure. Living in a tiny Florida town with her dad and four-year-old brother, Cadie spends most of her time working, going to school, and taking care of her family. So when she meets two handsome cousins at a campfire party, she finally has a chance for fun. They invite her and friend to join them on a road trip, and it's just the risk she's been craving-the opportunity to escape. But what starts out as a fun, sexy journey quickly becomes dangerous when she discovers that one of them is not at all who he claims to be. One of them has deadly intentions. 

A road trip fling turns terrifying in this contemporary story that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.

What I Liked:

I feel like this book was good, or could have been better, but it didn't leave up to its fullest potential. I'm not sure what it proved, in the end. This book was too short for me to be satisfied, but not in terms of the story, but in terms of the character development. I feel like this book could have been more developed, and at least one hundred pages longer in story. I thought it was a good story, but it could have been better. Not my favorite of Doller's books, but I'm glad I read it.

Cadie wants to have fun, but she's tied down by responsibility. She works and goes to school (sounds like yours truly, except in college - bigger bills), but has to take care of her four-year-old brother because her father just doesn't do the fathering thing anymore. Her mother died from pancreatic cancer, and her father hasn't been able to move on. When Cadie goes out one Friday night (for the first time in forever), she meets handsome cousins. They agree to go on a road-trip for the next few days, totally spontaneous, with strangers. But the trip turns dangerous and deadly very quickly, and Cadie doesn't know how to trust or where to go.

So many three-star reads lately! This week, I challenged myself to read all contemporary novels. Monday through Friday, five contemporary novels. So far, three of the five of them have received a 3-star rating. But I have high hopes for the remaining two. I had high hopes for this one too! I loved Doller's Something Like Normal and Where the Stars Still Shine. This one didn't impress me.

I definitely could connect with Cadie on a certain level - I feel the same way that she does. Bogged down with responsibilities and obligations, especially financially, to your education and your family. Never having fun, never having time to have a serious committed relationship. I understand her desire to get out, to be spontaneous, to live a little. 

Cadie goes a little too far, in my opinion. She meets Matt, and thinks he's cute. Then she meets his cousin Noah, and the two of them hit it off immediately. She goes too far when she agrees to go on the road-trip with him and Matt (they're not from the area, just passing through). Tell me who does that?! With random strangers?! More on that later.

The story itself is very intriguing and creepy! Holy crap, I was totally creeped out at multiple parts of this book. Job well done, Doller. The psychological thriller part of this book is well written! In general, Doller is an amazing writer. I personally think there should have been more to this book, but the structure was good. 

The ending is expected, in my opinion, and things wrap up way too fast. See below!

What I Did Not Like:

Woah this book was short. This bothered me because the story could have been so much more! I felt like an element of the story was missing. I couldn't say what should have been added and whatnot, but this book felt way too short. Not in the omg-I-need-to-read-more way, but in the where-is-the-rest-of-this-it-doesn't-make-sense way.

Well, the story flowed and made sense. But I felt like the story did not live up to its fullest potential. There could have been more, another layer to the story, more creepy strikes from the killer. Instead, this story came off as a bit cliche, because it was a very basic story. If that makes sense. I feel like I've read this story before... because this one felt like the skeleton of something bigger and more developed.

I didn't really connect with either male protagonist. There really is only one - Noah - but I connected with neither him nor Matt. I expected to at least connect with Noah, to be rooting for him or something, but I didn't really feel much towards him. I mean, I guess he's an attractive and totally swoon-worthy love interest, but that is really all that he is. 

The background of Matt and Noah didn't really impress me or shock me. I just didn't care at that point. I raised an eyebrow and was like, really? Okay. I don't know what I was expecting but I wasn't impressed by what I got. 

The murder and the creepy stuff was very creepy and chilling. At the same time, they seemed very random and not coordinated? Meaning, the acts seemed scattered and not well linked together. I guess this could be a good thing or a bad thing, but I didn't really like it.

The romance was... weird. I think I liked it? I have no idea. I'm all for feminism and the empowerment of a woman's decisions when it comes to intimacy and partners and whatnot, but I don't necessarily agree with Cadie's actions. I personally don't hook up with strangers, or take things further with a person I've known for a day or two, but that's me. Not trying to say she's wrong, but I wouldn't do those things.

I don't really understand the point of this book. What did Cadie learn? Is she satisfied from her adventure time? Has she learned to be more cautious? Or to take even more risks, after this experience? What changed for Cadie? I don't understand the character development.

And then the ending itself - it was predictable, but then it wrapped it so quickly! There was one event that was SO coincidental, I totally squinted at the book in irritation. Also I didn't really get a feel for the aftermath of the climax, like Doller felt the need to end the story as fast as possible, in five pages. Unnecessary, as this book is like, 250 pages long (i.e. very short). I think nearly a year passes after the climax, in the last chapter, and I didn't really pick up on this. Why does so much time have to pass? The climax just happened. 

So I had issues with the book. It didn't feel complete, though I could see that this is a great story. I know Doller can do better!

Would I Recommend It:

Eh, no. Three stars is okay but I'd recommend Doller's first book, Something Like Normal or Where the Stars Still Shine, before recommending this one. I like how Doller incorporates mental and emotional trauma and issues in her books, but I wasn't impressed by this book. I'll still be reading any of Doller's books in the future, of course!


3 stars. Another three-star read - I feel like nearly all of my last two or three weeks of books have been three star reads. Hopefully tomorrow's read - another contemporary - will be better! I have high hopes for Gina Ciocca's Last Year's Mistake.

Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!


  1. Sad that this was only an okay-read! I’ve seen this one quite a bit around the blogosphere but never really heard much about it. Oh well, have to see for myself soon. Great review! :)

  2. Gorgeous review Alyssa :D I'm glad you liked this book. But aw, I'm sorry it was another 3 star book for you :\ I don't like books that are only 3 stars for me, lol :) But yay for creepy :D Not a book for me, but maybe one day ;p I do like the cover. <3

    1. Another one indeed! And my next one is also a three-star read. Those reviews are so hard to write!

  3. Oh bummer. I was debating about reading this one myself. I go for the occasional thriller every now and then and this one sounded like it would be good. But if there was a lack of character development, I feel even more hesitant to read it. Maybe I'll wait it out and see if the library gets it.

    Great review though! Glad to hear you were able to enjoy parts of it if not the whole!

    1. It might be? You might like it? I didn't think there was much character development, especially knowing Doller's work and characters in previous books.

      Thank you!

  4. 3 stars can be on the good okay or on the meh okay and it seems that your latest reads have all been on the meh 3 stars as of late! I hope you'll have better luck with your next read!

    1. Soooo many three star reads. Another one tomorrow two, unfortunately!

  5. I have a copy of this one and I do love mysteries. I think I will read it (if I get to it), since you like it.

    1. I hope you like it more than I did, Liza! I mean, three stars isn't BAD...

  6. Oh no, I was hoping this would be as good as her previous books. I'm getting ready to read this one, so I hope I enjoy it.

    1. You might like it more than I did, Sandra! Happy reading.

  7. Hmm, I wish this was as good as the premise made it sound, I still want to give it a go though - three stars isn't so bad. Great review <3 Benish | Feminist Reflections

    1. You should! I hope you like it, Benish! Thank youuuu :)


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