Last week, I wrote about Poor Little Dead Girls, a thriller about a middle-class girl who is catapulted into Richie Rich territory via athletic scholarship. (The thriller part involves a secret society! And lots of other crazy stuff, like eugenics and blood diamonds and murrrrrderrrrr!) Totally coincidentally, today’s book, Josin L. McQuein’s Premeditated, is ALSO a thriller about a middle-class girl who enters the world of the very, very privileged. Unlike Sadie, though, Dinah isn’t remotely interested in using the prestige of her school’s name to make her way into the Ivy League. No, Dinah has finagled her way into the Eleanor Lowry School for one reason, and one reason alone: REVENGE.
See, it was her younger cousin, Claire, who was supposed to be at Lowry. But Claire’s in a coma caused by extreme blood loss and head trauma, with a not-so-great chance of full recovery. Dinah’s going to find the boy that started Claire down that dark path—Brooks Walden, golden boy of Lowry—and she’s going to destroy him.
A major way in which Premeditated is far, FAR superior to this season of the TV show Revenge: Dinah has a modicum of subtlety and discretion. In other words, she doesn’t do her plotting and planning whilst out in public, or in the same room as her enemies. Also, although she, like Revenge’s Emily Thorne, isn’t entirely in her right mind and isn’t necessarily someone that you’d want to be besties with, she’s almost entirely sympathetic. She’s been driven to an emotional breaking point—Claire’s situation is far from the only factor at play—and her fortitude in dealing with her warring feelings toward the Brooks she gets to know in person versus the Brooks she knows from Claire’s diary is almost as impressive as her unrelenting determination to deliver justice.
For the most part, the secondary characters are great, too. With the exceptions of her mother (who is the most horrible YA parent I’ve had the displeasure of spending time with in a while) and the true villain* (who is SUCH a moustache-twirler than it is ALMOST funny…except that he’s done such terrible things that it isn’t), all of the secondary characters feel real enough that they could carry their own stories. Dinah’s interactions with her best friends, Tabs and Brucey, feel comfortable, real and affectionate, as do her uncle’s interactions with the trio, and the interactions between the Lowry quartet that Dinah infiltrates are written in such a way that it’s clear that they’ve known each other for years as well—although the story itself is a totally different genre, the implied history and the relationships between the characters were so well-handled that I was reminded of Sarah Dessen.
So, yeah. Don’t be put off by the super-boring cover! Premeditated is good stuff, and I’m looking forward to McQuein’s next!
*That’s really not a spoiler. It’s clear from, like, page three that Brooks isn’t really at the heart of what happened to Claire. It’s doubtful that many readers will hold Dinah’s mistake against her—the evidence she’s working with WOULD seem pretty damning in real life, and in real life, we don’t generally go LOOKING for twist endings—and again, she’s got so much pain/fury that she’s not entirely thinking straight.
If she isn't writing Bookshelves of Doom or doing her librarian thing, Leila Roy might be making stuff for her Etsy shop while re-watching Veronica Mars, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Babylon 5, Black Books or Twin Peaks. Well, that or she’s hanging out on Twitter. Or both.