Let me start by saying I find Terra Élan McVoy a fascinating writer. I've read every one of her books and with every book she has surprised me. I find that she doesn't it into a certain category like some writers do. She writes what she feels and goes with it. From Pure, to After the Kiss, to The Summer of Firsts and Lasts, to Being Friends with Boys; each one is a different story that by no way follows a certain formula, and her newest book, Criminal, fits in perfectly. It's grittier than her other stories, with a darker tone, but still fabulous.
Criminal is the story of Nikki, a girl that lives a hard life, but thinks she has the perfect boyfriend in Dee. Dee claims he loves Nikki and even has a tattooed “N” right over his heart. Nikki would do anything for Dee and does by helping him with a crime that ends in murder. Refusing to see the truth about her boyfriend and the choices she made Nikki continuously lies to herself and the people that have been by her side. And when she ends up in jail for Dee’s crimes she must decide just how much to support the person that may have been the worst decision she has ever made.
Nikki kind of broke my heart in this book. She was such a lost little girl that was just dying to be loved and Dee made her feel that love. Her father was gone, her mother was a joke of a mother and she had no other family. Nikki was desperate for stability and it was blatantly obvious with how she clung on to Dee when all the signs where there showing just how much bad news he was. It made me really sad for her because she was such a bright, smart, tough girl, but she became a stereotype and wrecked her life over essentially a major loser. It pained me how naïve this poor girl was when it came to life and when it came to love, but the great thing about this book was watching Nikki grow. McVoy did an awesome job showing the growth of Nikki from a love stung puppet to a woman that learned what was right and wrong and that Dee was no good for her. And that is what made this book so great in my eyes.
I also found the plot to be very well thought out and even paced. Nothing happened too quickly and Nikki’s reactions to things that were revealed was right on. I believed that she didn’t think she did anything wrong and that she didn’t think she would get arrested. I loved how loyal she felt to Bird and how that played into her motivation for trying to do the right thing. Everything just worked really well together and I think that is what makes McVoy such a remarkable author and a chameleon of sorts. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to see where she takes us next.