posted at Thursday, May 15th, 2014 at 12:00 AM | Reviews, Young Adult
Published by Delacorte BFYR on October 8, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery, Thriller
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A week ago, Dinah’s cousin Claire cut her wrists.
Five days ago, Dinah found Claire’s diary and discovered why.
Three days ago, Dinah stopped crying and came up with a plan.
Two days ago, she ditched her piercings and bleached the black dye from her hair.
Yesterday, knee socks and uniform plaid became a predator’s camouflage.
Today, she’ll find the boy who broke Claire.
By tomorrow, he’ll wish he were dead.
The fact that Josin L. McQuein released two novels within her debut year is impressive. What I find even more impressive is that both are good and that they fall into such different genres. Of Arclight and Premeditated, I preferred the latter, which has much stronger characterization and a lot of great messages. It also has the added benefit of being different from the bulk of YA offerings.
The blurb promises a girl bent on revenge, hardened and out for blood. Dinah does sort of fit this, but not quite. Everything’s much less certain than I was expecting. Though Dinah definitely wants to make the guy who raped her cousin Claire pay, Dinah’s not really sure on how to do it, distracted by hope that Claire will wake from the coma that resulted from a botched suicide attempt and her own lack of experience with the revenge game. I didn’t expect Dinah’s narrative voice to be so comic, if blackly so, or for the novel to have so much characterization and thoughtfulness to it.
Dinah does go all out. She moves in with her aunt and uncle across the country, grateful for a chance to escape her mother, who is a monster bitch. She visits the hospital regularly and Claire is ALWAYS at the back of her thoughts. McQuein successfully establishes the bond between the two, which I give her major props for. Also, though it’s a bit less epic than expected, the vengeance wreaked on Brooks Walden, the rapist, is largely in the realm of things teens could easily do.
The best part of Premeditated was that McQuein included a bunch of positive messages in a non-preachy way. Dinah’s edgy, pierced, tattooed, dyed, but cleans up her look to go to the prep school where she will find and destroy her sister’s rapist. Along the way, she really begins to think about who she is and how she wants to present herself, and comes down sort of in the middle. It’s not that any particular look is wrong, but about her finding out what works best for her. Also, Premeditated promotes reconsidering first impressions, which is generally a good idea. Oh, and there’s a lesbian couple included just because and not as token characters. The ending’s left just the right amount of open-ended too, leaving room to hope or not hope for romance depending on how you feel when you finish. View Spoiler »Personally, I have to ship it after that adorable makeout scene in the tree house. « Hide Spoiler
That said, I did have a few issues with Premeditated. The characterization bordered a bit too on the quirky, even for me. Dinah’s friends, Tabs and Brucey, seem to have all the precise skills and knowledge needed for her vengeance plot. Perhaps worse, when it comes down to it, Dinah does very little of the actual destruction of Brooks Walden. Abigail-not-Abby’s character also seemed to flip flop a lot. At first introduction, she’s a nerd with no social skills. Then later she seems to be hanging with the popular crowd. Her methods of interaction and her choice of subject matter varies from scene to scene as is convenient.
Though this wasn’t a huge drawback, I did figure out the resolution short of the halfway point. I didn’t really mind, but, if you like your mysteries complex and hard to divine, then you will likely be disappointed with Premeditated. I found the characters and the suspense plenty to keep me entertained, even if I knew where the book was going.
Josin L. McQuein’s Premeditated is a fast-paced novel about rape, family, and friendship. Though perhaps not ideal for traditional mystery fans who will figure out the twist too easily, I think this is a great one for readers of contemporaries, particularly those who enjoy darker themes.
“If Dinah wanted to date Tabitha, she’d tell me to my face. Then I’d give her forty dollars for dinner and a movie.”
Tl;dr – Book in a GIFfy: