The backstory: Dare Me is Megan Abbott's sixth novel. I've read and reviewed two of her previous novels: Die a Little by and The End of Everything.
The basics: Addy Hanlon, a high school senior, has been best friends with Beth Cassidy for years. Within the hierarchy of high school royalty, Addy is the lieutenant to Beth's queen bee. When a new cheerleading coach arrives at their school, Addy and Beth's world changes, and coach draws Addy into her world.
My thoughts: Megan Abbott is the master of realistic thrillers. On the surface, this novel might not read like a thriller, or what we've come to think of as a thriller. The more I thought about this novel, however, the more similarities I saw between this novel and The End of Everything, in which an abduction quietly moves at its realistic pace. Dare Me is a thriller because the characters don't realize they're in a thriller, but the reader soon does. This rawness gives Dare Me its edge.
I read Dare Me compulsively in less than a day. I loved inhabiting Addy's mind and discovering her connectedness and disconnectedness to reality. Addy provides a fascinating window into this story, as she narrates what she doesn't always understand. Her observations sometimes illuminated the story and sometimes darkened it. At times, I longed to have another view into these characters, but Addy's perspective kept a certain layer of both creepiness and normalcy.
The verdict: Dare Me is modern day noir. At first, this novel seems innocuous, but as Abbott drew me deeper into the underworld of these teenage girls and their coach, it soon becomes more sinister. On the surface: these girls may be typical teenagers, but what's beneath is truly frightening...and darkly thrilling.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Length: 304 pages
Publication date: July 31, 2012
Convinced? Treat yourself! Buy Dare Me from an independent bookstore, the Book Depository or Amazon (Kindle version.)
Want more? Visit Megan Abbott's website and follow her on Twitter. Join in the discussion: On Tuesday, August 7, Book Club, hosted by Nicole at Linus's Blanket and Jen at Devourer of Books, we'll discuss Dare Me at Devourer of Books.
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