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Cross Her Heart, You’re Going to Die

Josin McQuein's Premeditated:  Edmond Dantes meets Montresor

Cross Her Heart, You’re Going to Die

BOOK REPORT for In Memory of Premeditated by Josin McQuein

Cover Story: Psycho Ex
Drinking Buddy: Um, I Brought My Own
Testosterone Level:  It's Quiet...Too Quiet
Talky Talk: Best Served Cold
Bonus Factors: No More Wire Hangers, Kick Ass Aunt and Uncle, Mother Night
Bromance Status: That Crazy Girl Who Doesn't Know When to Quit

Cover Story: Psycho Ex

Now that's an evocative cover. Not a giant teen face, but just the eye. The angry eye, peering through the shattered glass. You'll never escape her. You're a dead man.

"Brian...you never called meeeeee...."

The Deal:

Dinah has always been close to her younger cousin, Claire. Even when Dinah's family moves across the country to Oregon, they still keep in touch. I mean, they're practically sisters.

But the distance counts for something. And one day a boy named Brooks Walden hurts Claire. Hurts her real bad.

I guess he didn't hear me when I told him to stop...

And Claire slits her wrists, banging her head when she collapses. She's now in a coma, from which she may never recover.

Under the guise of helping out Claire's parents, Dinah moves back east. She removes her piercings, dies her black hair blonde, and abandons her Goth clothes for the uniforms of Lowry, the preppy private school where Claire was about to start as a freshman.

Brooks Walden has to die.

Oh, not immediately. Dinah's not about to go down for murder. No, she'll do this right. She'll get to know Brooks. Make him a friend. Find out what makes him tick, what scares him, what his dreams are. And then, with the help of her old friends Tabitha and Brucey, she will utterly crush him. Ruin him. Destroy the boy who destroyed Claire.

And then she'll kill him.

Drinking Buddy: Uh, I Brought My Own

Dinah is the sort of spunky, intelligent, independent girl that makes for good YA. She's also cold-blooded, ruthless, and willing to do anything, pay any price, to bring Brooks down. With the help of insane computer expert Brucey and Tabitha, a kind of Martha Stewart/Marilyn Manson hybrid, they come up with plan after plan to ruin him: adulterated food, framing him for crimes, playing on his severe phobia of water...hey, compared to what he did to Claire, this is child's play.

But Dinah is not evil, and she's not as hard as she believes she is. Claire once liked Brooks for a reason, and as she gets to know him, she only gets to see the handsome, intelligent boy with a dead mother and distant father. She has to keep reminding herself of her cousin, half-alive in a hospital, to keep her on track.

Testosterone Level:  It's Quiet...Too Quiet

Dinah and her friends are subtle. Instead of publicly denouncing Brooks or tampering with his brake line, they hit him where it hurts: his reputation. In a world where people live and die by their college applications, it doesn't take much to bring down a colossus: a bug in the principal's ear about Brooks's drinking, missing a scholarship interview, a confrontation with mall security. Dinah, Tabitha, and Brucey are devious little elves, and I found myself flipping pages, waiting to see when the you know what would hit the fan. I felt sorry for Brooks...almost.

Talky Talk: Best Served Cold

The thing about ruining someone's life is...you ruin someone's life. And if Brooks was wearing a 'date rapist' T-shirt and bragging about driving a girl to suicide, Dinah would not be having a moral crisis. But Claire fell for Brooks for a reason. He's charming, vulnerable, and kind of cute. Dinah's plan to befriend him works a little too well...they actually do become friends. He tells her secrets. He lets down the defenses.

And even though he totally has it coming, can Dinah justify hurting someone who trusts her? Is this helping Claire? Is this the right thing to do?

Incidentally, the book does NOT justify sexual assault. It's just that the only girl who knows the whole truth is in a coma.

Bonus Factor: No More Wire Hangers!

Dinah's mother wins the YA bitch of the year award. She's a self-centered social climber, and Dinah's father is too spineless to stand up to her. When her brother strikes it rich, Dinah's mother moves the family to Oregon, just so she won't have to be the second-richest family member.

Dinah moves back to Oregon to kill Brooks and support her aunt and uncle. And maybe to avoid her own mother. A mother who's phone calls essentially begin with 'So is she dead yet?'

Bonus Factor: Kick Ass Aunt and Uncle

Creepily, my wife's aunt and uncle are also named Paul and Helen

Dinah moves in with her Uncle Paul and Aunt Helen. Paul has just made a fortune by developing a hot new video game. Since Dinah's father provided the start up capital, Paul wants to share his windfall with Dinah's family...and maybe spoil his favorite niece a bit. Even when things go south with Claire, he and Helen are still determined to watch out for Dinah and give her a happy life.

Anyone who ever had to leave home to find peace and stability will appreciate this awesome couple.

If you're not familiar with this Vonnegut book, it's about an American spy who stays in Nazi Germany under the guise of being a traitor. He smuggles valuable intelligence to the Allies, while pretending be a pro-Hitler propagandist. After the war, he ponders which side he truly helped the most, and if he hadn't started to believe what he'd been saying all those years. It's a good read, you should give it a shot.

Anyway, Dinah was always a Goth girl, she went to the 'poor' school, and was friends with the strange kids. At Lowry, however, she's got to reinvent herself. Wear the uniform. Be a rich kid. Toe the line. Wait to strike. All the while laughing at the fake kids and their money.

Except where does the masquerade end? The longer Dinah is 'good Dinah' the less connection she feels with her old self. She keeps telling Tabitha and Brucey that this is all for the greater good, but just where does the acting stop? And is she even acting anymore?

Bromance Status: That Crazy Girl Who Doesn't Know When to Quit

Okay, this book was a wild ride, and I loved the idea of revenge for a good cause...but you're scaring me a bit here. It's over. Calm down. Watch where you're pointing that thing...

Disclosure: Delacorte blah blah blah free book blah blah blah I got no money.

Brian Katcher's photo About the Author: Brian Katcher wrote his first YA novel when he was down and out in Mexico. He now lives in Missouri with his wonderful wife and daughter. He divides his time between writing and working as a school librarian. Brian still misses the preachy YA books of the eighties.