- Premeditated by Josin L. McQuein
Dinah always supported her sweet, naïve fourteen-year-old cousin Claire, so when Dinah moved across the country, Claire was left to her own devices. Now Claire’s in a coma and Dinah’s determined to find out why. When she reads in Claire’s diary that Claire fell hard for a boy who then raped her, Dinah seeks revenge on the guy. She is abetted by an able pair of allies, who come up with a slate of subtle but diabolically effective sabotage efforts to slay the guy’s chances at the choice colleges that represent the only future his overbearing father will accept. Narrator Dinah’s steadfast adherence to her plans undermines her better angels and instincts, and she makes a serious error in judgment that readers will see coming a mile away. Though the story is compulsively readable, the credibility gaps in most of the plot points are as problematic as the predictable outcomes and clichéd, two-dimensional characterizations. Many readers, however, will overlook these flaws in favor of the appeal and cleverness of the revenge plan and the mystery that is obvious enough for them to solve long before the protagonist does. The dialogue is witty and the pacing works, even if Claire’s situation is dramatically overplayed and the villain—rapist, blackmailer, coward, homophobe—lacks only a mustache to twirl to be a full-fledged caricature. Readers who enjoy melodrama that doesn’t demand anything more than strong emotional investment directed at clearly delineated targets will appreciate this entry in the make-the-bullies-pay genre.