Review: Trouble Is a Friend of Mine

Trouble Is a Friend of MineStephanie Tromly, Trouble Is a Friend of Mine

Zoe Webster is an utterly normal teenage girl who’s just trying to survive her parents’ divorce and her subsequent move to a small town in upstate New York. But her life is turned upside down when she meets her neighbor and classmate Digby, who’s basically the opposite of normal. He’s rude and annoying, he wears suits all the time, and he’s obsessed with the recent disappearance of a local teenage girl. Somehow he ropes Zoe, along with his former best friend Henry, into his plan to investigate the disappearance. Their research leads them to a perverted gynecologist, a drug ring, and a possible cult, as they eventually learn that the girl’s disappearance isn’t quite what it seems. Meanwhile, Zoe tries to sort through her feelings for Digby, who has involuntarily become one of her closest friends, and maybe even something more.

A lot of the hype for this book compared it to “Veronica Mars,” a TV show I really enjoyed, but unfortunately I don’t think such comparisons are particularly accurate. Yes, like VM, this book features a teen detective who solves a mystery with his friends, and there’s even a reference to the VM theme song in the book. But in my opinion, the similarities really end there; VM is much funnier and its mysteries more compelling than the events of the book. I just wasn’t engaged by the novel at all, despite the fact that there’s nothing particularly wrong with it. Maybe my issue is that the characters didn’t seem real to me. Zoe, the narrator, is essentially a blank canvas — she’s so forgettable that I had to look up her name. Digby has more personality, but since we see him through Zoe’s eyes, he remains pretty mysterious throughout the book. I didn’t get much insight into what makes him tick or why he wants to hang out with Zoe. Overall, this is not a bad book, and fans of YA mysteries might like it, but I was hoping for more.

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