The Truth by Jeffry W. Johnston
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication date: February 2nd 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Thriller, Mystery
Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble
Lie, torture, kill—there’s nothing Chris and Derek wouldn’t do for their younger brothers…
When Chris wakes up tied to a chair in a dark basement, he knows that he’s trapped—and why. He shot and killed Derek’s little brother. He had his reasons, but no matter how far Derek goes to uncover the truth about that night, Chris’s story won’t change. It can’t. There is far too much at stake…
Derek is desperate to prove his brother didn’t deserve to die. And if kidnapping his brother’s killer is the only way to the truth, than he’ll go to extremes. But Chris’s truth is far more dangerous than Derek could have imagined, and knowing could cost both their lives…
I received a free ebook copy from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
This is a short, quick and easy read, it took me about 2-3 hours. It’s a mystery/thriller story as well as a tragedy and it will keep you wondering what the big “truth” is.
It’s a story about family, sacrifice, and the reveal of said truth. There are two pairs of brothers in this equation: Chris and Devon, and Derek and Caleb. I just realized the characters share initials for a reason. Nice.
The story starts with Chris waking up tied to a chair in a basement. It’s Derek who’s kidnapped him, and Derek wants to know why Chris shot and killed his little brother only a few days ago.
The Truth reveals the, well, truths, bit by bit throughout the story. It alternates between “then” and “now” sections, i.e. it switches between Chris talking to his kidnapper and flashbacks to what happened before, during, and after Chris shot Caleb. A lot of the reveals are predictable and I was worried the very final reveal would be too, but I actually didn’t see it coming. Perhaps I should have because I had plenty of pretty wild theories throughout, some much wilder than the actual truth, but for some reason what actually happened didn’t cross my mind. I feel like an idiot, haha.
The brothers, particularly Chris and Devon, have a Sam-and-Dean-Winchester-esque relationship. At least that’s the association I got almost immediately. Chris is 16 years old, Devon is only 10. Chris is fiercely protective of Devon and always puts him first, forgetting to have fun himself and actually act like the teenager he is. After their father was killed in the line of duty three years ago, Chris ended up taking over that role. Their mother admits that Chris is a “better parent than [she is].”
The book keeps you guessing and it’s fast-paced and fairly intriguing. You read and wonder what the hell Chris could be hiding that he’s willing to lose his fingers for. Still it’s only an okay book. I mean, I didn’t dislike it, but I didn’t love it either. It lacked something that kept me from giving it more than 3 stars. Just that little something that would have made it into a complete page-turner. I can’t really tell you what that is, it might be just me.
I did want to feel more connection with the characters though. I wish it made me really care about Chris and Devon, Devon in particular.
There are also some lose-ish ends, like what happened to Rita? What was the purpose of her character outside of being some sort of love interest? I didn’t feel the connection between her and Chris, so to me she didn’t even work as the love interest. She says she said no the first time Chris asked her out (pre-story) because she legitimately wasn’t interested in him, but now she suddenly is? Why? Because he killed someone and she feels bad for him? I wanted just a little bit more there, without the book turning into a romance. The Truth doesn’t really need the romance part at all, but maybe the author felt like he should have at least one female character in the novel who’s not the mother? Possibly. But in that case you should probably avoid making her the love interest only.
The constant “I know there’s something you’re not telling me” from Derek got a bit repetitive after a while too. I get it, you have to move the plot forward because there is something Chris is not telling Derek, but is there another way to get to that point? Or is Derek psychic? He seems pretty certain Chris is hiding just that one thing.
That aside, this is an interesting little thriller. It’s easy to read and I admit I was surprised by the ending and I, like most readers, like being surprised. It’s not gory, despite the garden shears, but there are some mentions of child abuse (including rape) so if you need warnings for that then consider this your warning. It’s nothing descriptive or graphic at all though.
I recommend this book for fans of young adult psychological thrillers/mysteries and interesting sibling dynamics. Don’t expect a masterpiece, but expect to be asking yourself some interesting questions after you’ve read the final page.