I'm going to start with the blurb from the back cover of this book, because it does a remarkable job of introducing the story in very few words:
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.
Claire and Dinah are cousins who are incredibly close, close enough that when Claire ends up in a coma in the hospital from a failed suicide attempt, Dinah knows where to look to find Claire's diary (or the computerized version of one, anyway). Dinah figures out what drove Claire to the point of suicide--a boy from the private school that Claire was supposed to attend that fall. Dinah enrolls at the school herself, determined to get back at this person who hurt her sweet cousin. She plots to ruin his life, with the help of her two best friends from the public school she used to attend. There are some complicated family dynamics involving money that come into play, and the whole revenge plot doesn't take place in one day, but essentially what is written on the back of the book holds true. Of course, the boy who supposedly hurt Claire doesn't seem as bad as Dinah thought he'd be and there are side characters that come into play...you'll have to read the book to see if Claire wakes up and if Dinah is able to exact her revenge.
I'm going to issue a general spoiler alert here before I go into the strengths and weaknesses of Premeditated. I have to give away some parts of the story in order to discuss it, so if you want to read the book and don't want it spoiled, stop reading now!
Okay, first the positives. The writing in general was solid. I really liked Dinah as a character--she was tough, but had her weak moments, too. She wasn't perfect, she was real. McQuein also did a fabulous job of capturing who Claire was and the relationship between Claire and Dinah without them ever having a present-day conversation (old texts and diary entries are used to give Claire a voice). She additionally was able to weave a net of relationships between the characters that were consistent with their actions throughout the story--you could look back once you knew more and say, Oh, now I understand that earlier scene.
Unfortunately, Dinah could be a bit dense. I decided fairly early on that Brooks probably wasn't the one who had hurt Claire, or at least that events probably did not take place exactly as Dinah thought they did. Then, I figured out the real culprit before Dinah finally got a clue. Her fixation on Brooks as the villain could be a bit frustrating at times, particularly as Dex started to show his true, abusive nature. Additionally, the fact that she set about completely destroying Brooks's life without having any concrete proof (besides Claire's diary entries) that he hurt Claire was a bit unrealistic. A very convenient part of this destruction was that Dinah had a genius friend, Brucey, who was a computer hacker able to carry out plots that would be unrealistic for most people. Finally, while I liked the ending, it seemed a tad unrealistic that Brooks would just forgive Dinah for manipulating his life and be willing to start over again, even if his dad (who had a lot of money and influence) was able to make the damage Dinah did go away. I would have expected a little more lingering anger from him.
Overall, I would give Premeditated 3 out of 5 stars. It was good, but not spectacular. Kind of like chocolate chip cookies from the supermarket. They're tasty, but not groundbreakingly delicious.
Here's the author's blog: http://josinlmcquein.blogspot.com/
And the page for the book at Random House: http://www.randomhouse.com/book/221369/premeditated-by-josin-l-mcquein#aboutthebook