Fifteen-year-old Devin Rhodes can’t wait to get rid of that baby title freshman. As a svelte sophomore, she thinks she’ll have a boyfriend who’s a man, not a little kid. Her shy best friend, Cass, isn’t so sure. She doesn’t like how Devin winks and shows off her lacy bra, or how she steals shimmering brown lip gloss from the pharmacy just because she can. But no one expected Devin’s newfound love of trouble to lead to death. When her body is found in a ravine, Cass has a sick feeling that she knows exactly why it happened. She was the last person to see Devin alive, and the bitter words exchanged could have made her jump. That must be why she feels like Devin’s spirit haunts her, and why her half of their beloved “best friends” necklace feels like a rope around her neck. But can it really be Cass’s fault? While all she wants to do is block out every single memory of Devin laughing, taunting, or just being alive, Cass will need to dig into her darkest memories to solve the mystery of Devin’s death.
Devin Rhodes is Dead provided a tantalizing puzzle that gripped me from the first page – and no, that wasn’t a hyperbole! As soon as I read about how Devin’s body was being lowered into the ground and how conflicted Cass felt, I ran through the novel. This YA novel is told in alternating “before” and “after” Devin’s death chapters. It is easy to follow, but not predictable. It also has sharp insights into teen girl friendships and abusive relationships. Devin shared a “best friend" necklace with Cass, yet their relationship was toxic. It was filled with manipulation and betrayal. However, Wolf cleverly avoided the trap of making Devin a two-dimensional mean girl by including her weaknesses. Devin desperately needed love and understanding, so she sought affection in the arms of boys who always just wanted a good time. The novel contains a warning to such teens. After all, Devin would have had Cass’s friendship forever if she had been kinder. Cass herself was a fresh new voice. Her insecurities about weight and boys are not exaggerated; instead, they help readers understand the conclusion of the mystery. Girls will be better able to understand the intricacies of female relationships portrayed in Devin Rhodes is Dead, but teen boys might also enjoy the gripping whodunit.