Review: Criminal by Terra Elan McVoy

CriminalTitle: Criminal

Author: Terra Elan McVoy

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Release Date: May 7th, 2013

Interest: Author / Contemp

Source: Purchased

Summary (From Goodreads):

A searing and gripping read that explores the depths of desperation true love can inspire, from the author of Being Friends with Boys.

Nikki’s life is far from perfect, but at least she has Dee. Her friends tell her that Dee is no good, but Nikki can’t imagine herself without him. He’s hot, he’s dangerous, he has her initials tattooed over his heart, and she loves him more than anything. There’s nothing Nikki wouldn’t do for Dee. Absolutely nothing.

So when Dee pulls Nikki into a crime—a crime that ends in murder—Nikki tells herself that it’s all for true love. Nothing can break them apart. Not the police. Not the arrest that lands Nikki in jail. Not even the investigators who want her to testify against him.

But what if Dee had motives that Nikki knew nothing about? Nikki’s love for Dee is supposed to be unconditional…but even true love has a limit. And Nikki just might have reached hers.

Criminal by Terra Elan McVoy is a book that surprised me and kept me turning the pages. It’s a book that I’m very excited to share with my students, especially those who love mysteries and edgy books.

Nikki is a character that I felt for, but I also found myself shaking my head at her often. Terra Elan McVoy wrote her in such a way that while I knew I shouldn’t feel sorry for Nikki, I couldn’t help it. She makes horrible choices. She blindly follows her boyfriend’s directions. But she’s also coming from an unstable home and is uneducated. She’s very naive. But she’s also real. She makes choices like many girls in bad relationships do. They may not be as extreme (thankfully), but readers will relate with Nikki.

Like I said before, Criminal kept me turning the pages. The chapters are fairly short and the plot moves quickly. I hope this book will end up YALSA’s Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers list because it’s one that I know will win over my reluctant readers. One day during SSR in my sophomore class I had to stop our reading to talk to them about a part that made me angry. Nikki did something that I couldn’t believe she did; I thought it was stupid of her. I had a quick conversation with my kids and asked them if they’d ever confronted a part like that in a book. Taking that moment piqued quite a bit of interest which I’m happy about because my sophomores aren’t as excited about reading as my seniors are this year. Criminal is full of “we need to discuss this” moments.

I do want to add that Criminal is a mature read. There are sexual scenes and mature themes involved. I’m not worried about placing this in my classroom, but I know quite a few of my readers work in middle school libraries/classrooms. Nikki is an eighteen year old character and lives a rough life. There are certainly lessons to be learned from Nikki’s story.

More reviews:
Chick Loves Lit

Wrapped Up in Books

Mrs. Crawford’s Thoughts


  1. Thank you, Sarah, for sticking with Nikki and seeing through to the purpose of this book. I hope you continue to have great conversations with your students about it, and lots of other reads!

  2. I loved the novel as well as I have connected with Nikki on certain parts, no killings though. heheh
    But I do love your work and hope to read sooooo much more of your works. 🙂
    GOOD LUCK! 😀

I love comments!

%d bloggers like this: