Trouble Is a Friend of Mine by Stephanie Tromly
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Sherlock meets The Breakfast Club in this story of a wisecracking girl who meets a weird but brilliant boy and their roller-coaster of a semester that's one part awkward, three parts thrilling, and five parts awesome
After her parents get divorced, high school junior Zoe Webster moves with her mother from Brooklyn to upstate New York, determined to get back to the city and transfer to the elite private school her father insists on. But then she meets Philip Digby--the odd and brilliant and somehow attractive?--Digby, and soon finds herself in a series of hilarious and dangerous situations all centered on his search for the kidnapper of a local teenage girl who may know something about the tragic disappearance of his kid sister eight years ago. Before she knows it, Zoe has vandalized an office complex with fake snow, pretended to buy drugs alongside a handsome football star dressed like the Hulk, had a serious throw down with a possible religious cult, challenged her controlling father, and, oh yeah, saved her new hometown.
For fans of John Green and David Levithan, this is a crime novel where catching the crook isn't the only hook, a romance where the leading man is decidedly unromantic, a friendship story where they aren't even sure they like each other, and a debut you won't soon forget.
I think that there will be those that love this book and it will be a success but I'm afraid it really didn't do it for me.
Zoe is meant to be the main character but I felt that she was overshadowed by Digby who this book really seems to be about. Zoe's parents having divorced force her mother to move and her to relocate to a new school Her father is somewhat overbearing and a control freak, he takes control of her choices and is forcing her to go to a new prep school that she doesn't entirely want but she agrees with whatever he suggests. Digby arrives at her house one day with no explanation of who he is and starts asking her some strange questions and believe it or not this eccentric stalker type 16 year old boy and Zoe become friends. Digby is strange to say the least and he hatches a plan with Zoe's help to find a teenager who recently went missing from the same school.
To be honest I found it all a bit too far fetched and unbelievable; here we have a girl who is new to the area and school who forges a relationship with a boy who exhibits manic tendencies, he texts her with random and weird demands ,G4 1550 Bring food' and appears to be just a little unhinged most of the time.
Tromly has obviously watched the Cumberbatch interpretation of Sherlock Holmes and has based the rather empty character of Digby on him. Unfortunately although this works for Sherlock Holmes it does not have the same effect through a 16 year old boy. He simply does not have the maturity to pull this off and for me that left the whole essence of the book just pointless and flat. There were some good attempts at comedy and some of the dialogue was very funny but there was just not enough substance to hold it all together.
The characters were not believable - Zoe was pathetic and needy, Digby was completely unauthentic and the supporting characters were not developed enough for the reader to connect with them. It started off interestingly enough with Zoe standing outside a house full of explosives and wondering how to get back in and I really thought that this was going to be an explosive read. Sadly that was not the case more like a damp squib - it was very slow to begin with and then did pick up a bit but with no real reason (none given by the author) of why a 16 year old seemingly disturbed boy would want to solve a missing person case with no connection to that person (or none that we are told of) the plot and story lacked authenticity.
The other thing that mystified me was how it was possible that Digby had managed to get the support of others, who held him up to be a bit of a character and not the weird person he comes over in the book. He was really quite creepy just 'appearing' in Zoe's room and then getting people to follow her because he said she couldn't look after herself! Really a bit stalkerish (if there is such a word) in my opinion. As this is aimed at YA's I am a bit concerned that this behaviour could be seen as 'normal' - I mean is it acceptable that a young boy can wander around the streets at all times of the day and night spying and breaking into buildings just because he believes he can solve a crime?
In summary the funny parts were entertaining but the rest was really quite boring and lacked depth; I almost gave up and didn't finish the book but did soldier on to the end which in itself was rather lack luster although it has been left for a sequel should Stephanie Tromly think it deserves another book, but if she does I'm afraid I wouldn't want to read it - sorry.
Can't really give this more than 3 stars.
I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.