by Megan Abbott
Summary: Addy Hanlon has always been Beth Cassidy's best friend and trusted lieutenant. Beth calls the shots and Addy carries them out, a long-established order of things that has brought them to the pinnacle of their high-school careers. Now they're seniors who rule the intensely competitive cheer squad, feared and followed by the other girls -- until the young new coach arrives.
Cool and commanding, an emissary from the adult world just beyond their reach, Coach Colette French draws Addy and the other cheerleaders into her life. Only Beth, unsettled by the new regime, remains outside Coach's golden circle, waging a subtle but vicious campaign to regain her position as "top girl" -- both with the team and with Addy herself.
Then a suicide focuses a police investigation on Coach and her squad. After the first wave of shock and grief, Addy tries to uncover the truth behind the death -- and learns that the boundary between loyalty and love can be dangerous terrain.
The raw passions of girlhood are brought to life in this taut, unflinching exploration of friendship, ambition, and power. Award-winning novelist Megan Abbott, writing with what Tom Perrotta has hailed as "total authority and an almost desperate intensity," provides a harrowing glimpse into the dark heart of the all-American girl.
Source: I purchased a Kindle copy.
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I definitely understand why so many people are talking about Megan Abbott and Dare Me. It was twisted, beautifully written, dark, gritty, and completely addicting. Dare Me is a wonderful example of how a book can feature teenagers and not be YA in the slightest. Dare Me features awful and envied cheerleaders, high on their own egos, and exposes the brutality and ruthlessness of their politics.
I love how the book took on cheerleading characters. It certainly isn’t the first novel to show them in a negative light or as shallow beings. But typically, cheerleaders are shown this way in comparison to “normal” students. In Dare Me, the author rarely, if ever, even mentioned anyone else. The characters were nasty and awful, without any sort of comparison to normalcy, which made them all the more intriguing to read about. Dare Me is a dark look into the lives of these cheerleaders and was surprisingly addicting to read. I love when I’m so engrossed in such sad and terrible characters because it shows how much talent an author has if she makes me care about things I don’t even like. I love the mixture of teen and adult themes floating around in the novel and intertwining with each other. It was so intriguing and captivating.
The author’s writing style was spectacular, but I do understand how writing styles can make or break a novel. I happen to love Megan Abbott’s, but I suppose if it rubs you the wrong way, you won’t enjoy the book at all. It isn’t quite a story with a beginning, middle, and end, but a glimpse into moments that tie into each other when it is all said and done. I loved it. Stories about mean cheerleaders aren’t anything new, but I don’t know that I’ve ever read any that take it to this level without being over the top. Teen girls, especially those who think nothing will ever get in their way, can be the most horrifying creatures on the planet and the author really takes that idea and runs with it.
I highly recommend the book and I immediately started The Fever by Megan Abbott when I finished.