Sunday, October 27, 2013


One of the hot new young adult writers this year is Josin McQuein, who wrote Arclight and Premeditated, both of which were published this year.  The sequel to Arclight, Meridian, is coming out next year.  I haven't read that book yet, though I got it as a Kindle Daily Deal last week, so I might eventually. 

But I've been really excited about Premeditated since I read this post on QueryShark (an amazing blog you should read), well before the author had sold the book.  I bought it right away and started it last week.  I'm maybe halfway through, and it's time blog it.

That's because what I really want to read right now is this blog post about the alternate ending to Premeditated.  But I don't want to spoil the actual ending, so I'm about to spring into action and zip through the book.  But I think I've guessed the ending, and I want to talk about that, as well as some other things.

First, when I read the premise (Dinah's cousin/best friend attempts suicide, and when Dinah reads her diary, she realizes that there's a boy behind it and plots revenge), I was intrigued.  Thinking about it, I figured there was no way a story like that could work as a straight revenge story.  I mean, there's always going to be more to a suicide attempt than the high school boy who wronged the girl, even if the wrong is pretty massive.  So I have thought from the beginning that if the book's going to be any good at all, it's going to bring some depth to the idea that you never know what's going on inside someone else's head, or heart, or life.

So far, there's nothing terribly surprising here, in that Dinah's trying to be all single-minded about how evil rich jerks are, but she's finding that their lives are sometimes more complex than she expects.  This is pretty nicely done.  In fact, the sympathy for these different characters is maybe a little too powerful, and Dinah starts losing her focus pretty quickly.

I guess I feel like the whole story could be more pointed, cleaner, tighter.  A lot of the characters have the same sarcastic voice, and sometimes I get completely lost about who's involved in a conversation or what's being discussed.  The revenge part is all pretty vague--Dinah's not playing her "private school" character as tightly as I expected, and really the whole plan thing is pretty loosey goosey.  I think that story--what Dinah intends to be the plot of the story--could be a lot sharper and more driving.

[Warning: if I'm any good at predictions, there are spoilers ahead.]

But the real story is how nothing turns out to be quite what Dinah expects.  And here we get to the ending that I'm pretty sure is coming, and if it is, I think it might have been teased a little too heavily: I'm betting she's after the wrong guy.  The fact that there's no photographic evidence--not even something inconsequential--and that the description is so vague says to me that the non-evil-seeming guy she's stalking is not actually the bad guy.  I actually have a guess about who the bad guy is, but I'm not as worried about committing that to electrons; "ha! knew it" will do in that case.

In fact, it says it to me so clearly that I'm really hoping Dinah starts to doubt it herself.  I think that because the revenge plot is so loose, now that I'm pretty sure I know the twist, I'm impatient for it to come.  It's not like she's actually doing anything much, just kind of lurking and meeting people.  If she was at least busy doing vengeful things with tight efficiency, I'd be willing to watch her hurl herself aggressively up the wrong alley.  But this meandering needs to be in the right direction.

And if I'm NOT right?  Well, I hope there's an even bigger twist waiting.

(I'm writing this ahead and scheduling its post; by the time you read it, I'll probably already have my answer.  But that's another post, I suppose.)

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