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VM was one of my fav shows and it set off an obsession I had a few years back with teen detective literature and YA mysteries. Unfortunately, I never found anything particularly good, let alone anything reaching VM brilliance.
Escape Theory wasn't a hard core mystery but the premise, set-up and style were really well crafted. Devon doesn't believe all around good guy Hutch killed himself by Oxy OD at their scenic boarding academy. She begins to investigate and put pieces together with the help of her role as peer counselor to those closest to Hutch - wealthy and popular kids she is not at all in with.
Clues and new pieces on information are doled out at a steady pace and I stayed interested. The mystery wasn't too hard to solve and you'll probably figure it out before the book, but it never gets boring or too obvious. The author manages to inject a seedy but not melodramatic underworld into the boarding school and while it never got quite as noir or dark as VM it never got clichéd
The real brilliance to this story are the characters. They are incredibly well drawn and felt very real. The relationships are authentic and character turns and depths are organic and sincere. It lets the teens be teens (not adult caricatures) while also not relying on standard high school clichés (jocks, nerds, cool, uncool).
At the same time though there is an ever present but subtle rich/poor divide particularly between Devon, a scholarship student, and the wealthy inner circle. The way this way played really reminded me of VM with the way it gave the school community texture that you always sensed could become serious tension with the right catalyst.
While I would have like Escape Theory to go a little more in depth, be a little be more mysterious and have a bigger bang to the conclusion/revelation Escape Theory was still a fantastic YA mystery and overall great book.
I highly recommend it and can't wait for more in the series. I will definitely be reading them!