- Trouble is a Friend of Mine (2015)
- Trouble Makes a Comeback (2016)
- Trouble Never Sleeps (2018)
I can’t remember where I first saw this trilogy, but they sounded like a good combination of funny and ridiculous, and that’s exactly what they were. While these didn’t become my new favorite books, I really did enjoy reading them, and they made me laugh multiple times. Some of the time they were a little too YA (especially the overdone love triangle in the second book), but for the most part the snark carried them through.
The story opens because Zoe and her recently-divorced mother have moved to upstate New York, and Zoe hates it. The only way for her to get back NYC is by getting into a prestigious private school for her senior year (she’s currently a junior), so she’s ready to work hard at her schoolwork and just try to get the heck out of Dodge. But when Digby shows up with a whole set of theories about what happened to the high school girl who disappeared last spring, Zoe finds herself getting dragged into a lot more than she bargained for.
Here’s the thing: Yes, Digby is obnoxious. No, the plot makes no sense. Yes, the combination of very serious scenarios (i.e. kidnapping) with over-the-top heist-adventures is absolutely ridiculous. No, I do not believe a few high schoolers could pull this kind of thing off. Yes, if Digby was someone I knew in real life I probably wouldn’t like him, and yes, if this was real life I would definitely caution Zoe to stay away from him because he’s kind of weird. But you know what? This is fiction, it doesn’t ever pretend like it’s not fiction, and sometimes I enjoy a book like this the same way that I enjoy fantasy – sometimes you just roll with the fact that magic is a thing. Or, in this case, that there’s a brilliantly intelligent, probably mentally ill high school kid who can pull off all kinds of ridiculous antics.
A lot of reviews for these books make all the complaints that I listed above, and I think they’re all valid complaints. You just have to decide whether or not you can go along with the absurdity. If you can, these books are funny and fun. If you’re looking for characters who are more snark and entertainment than they are real people, then you’ll probably enjoy these.
While each story has its own small story, the over-arcing plot is about Digby’s sister, who was kidnapped several years earlier. I wasn’t sure how that was all going to play out. How it played out was just as ridiculous as everything else in these books, but still weirdly satisfying.
I do wish these books had taken some more time to develop characters instead of just having people to do what needed to happen to make the story work, if that makes sense. Zoe, despite narrating three books, isn’t particularly interesting or individual, she’s just there. There’s extra drama with her parents and what she wants to do with her future, and all of that could have been better explored. The books are really about Digby, but he’s also weirdly unknowable, and while we do get some answers, he could have benefited from some more development as well. But in the end, these aren’t books that “have” to have well-rounded characters – these books are about the heist, not the people who perform it. But that lack of characterization is what makes these books just fun fluff instead of something really great.
If you’re willing to suspend disbelief and just jump on for the ride, these books are pretty entertaining. Overall recommended for what they are instead of what they could be.