I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Trouble Is a Friend of Mine by Stephanie Tromly
Published by Kathy Dawson Books on August 4th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Amazon・ Good Books・Book Depository
Preparing to survive a typical day of being Digby's friend wasn't that different from preparing to survive the apocalypse.
Her first day not in school (because she cut) in her new hometown that will soon be her old hometown (because she's getting out of Dodge as fast as she can) Zoe meets Digby. Or rather, Digby decides he's going to meet Zoe and get her to help him find missing teenager. Zoe isn't sure how, but Digby—the odd and brilliant and somehow…attractive?—Digby always gets what he wants, including her help on several illegal ventures. Before she knows it, Zoe has vandalized an office complex with fake snow, pretended to buy drugs alongside a handsome football player dressed like the Hulk, had a throw-down with a possible cult, and, oh yeah, saved her new hometown (which might be worth making her permanent hometown after all.)
A mystery where catching the crook isn't the only hook, a romance where the leading man is decidedly unromantic, a story about friendship where they aren't even sure they like each other—Trouble is a Friend of Mine is a YA debut you won’t soon forget.
You know those books that are maybe not objectively the greatest but are still quite solid and tons of fun so whatever nothing’s perfect? Trouble Is a Friend of Mine is one of those books (for me at least, I’ve seen other reviews calling it both flawless and irredeemably awful so perspective and all of that).
Let’s get the negative out of the way first, shall we? I figured out the mystery within four chapters (something I am often times utter crap at), Zoe, the main character/narrator’s characterization mostly consists of sarcasm, dad issues and is friends with Digby, and Digby, the character the book arguably centers around, is the definition of a manic pixie dream boy with the analytical and social skills of the BBC’s Sherlock.
If any of those things are deal breakers for you, you’re probably not going to like this book.
That said, I liked it, like, a lot. A MPDanything combined with an MC that basically only serves as a viewpoint into said MPDperson’s life is normally enough for me to throw a book across the room in a frustrated rage (looking at you TFiOS), Trouble had enough going for it that I was able to relax and ignore the more critical parts of my brain for a bulk of the reading experience.
I was hugely appreciative of the hilarious supporting ensemble. While none of the characters were all that deep (Zoe is dry and skeptical, Digby is too clever for his own good, Henry is exasperated and a bit of an idiot but sweet, Sloane is Regina George, etc), they work their designated type so well it and have just enough detail thrown in that it comes across as intentional and fun instead of flat and boring. They also play off each other really well and the end result was a climactic action sequence that left me laughing my ass off and desperate for a sequel (seriously, point me to the petition, I want more).
It also helps that there was so much top notch quippy banter with the occasional slapstick moment thrown in for bonus comedy. Digby’s kind of like one of those dolls with the pull string and a voice box and every time you wind him up he spits out cutting observations and witty one-liners. If that’s not your thing, he’s going to get super old, super fast. Fortunately, it is very much my thing so I loved it.
The third thing that made this book really work for me was how it felt dealt with its tropes, specifically either by flipping them around (example: Henry, the Adonis jock girls fall over themselves to hook up with who refuses to have sex with any of them because he wants his first time to be special) or cheerfully calling them out (example: when Zoe’s mom lets her run off into danger bc YA parenting, Zoe, and therefore the narrative, takes a moment to stop and inner-monologue about how YO THAT IS KIND OF SOME SEVERELY CRAPPY PARENTING). To me, it all came across like the book is fully aware that it isn’t perfect but it’s trying and having a lot of fun which is apparently all I need to work with.
As far as the plot goes, Trouble is definitely the fluffy end of the crime and mystery intensity scale. While there is some dark and unexpectedly dramatic stuff, it’s light on consequences and overall seriousness. It’s kind of like Scooby Doo, one dimensionally creepy, evil adults’ plots are foiled by a band of incredibly clever, determined and meddlesome kids. If you watch Scooby Doo and shout things like ‘IT WOULD NEVER GO DOWN LIKE THAT WTF IS THIS’ then again, this book is probably not for you. If you watch like ‘well this is all fun and games so whatever’ then you may want to check this book out.
Basically, if the headline HILARIOUS BAND OF UNLIKELY FRIENDS GET UP TO SHENANIGANS AND SOLVE CRIME intrigues you and you don’t demand a lot of complexity out of your plot, Trouble Is a Friend of Mine is definitely worth bumping up your TBR. It’s short, it’s quick, it’s fun, I liked it, the end.