Monday 19 January 2015

Book Review - Dare Me

Dare Me
Author: Megan Abbott
Genres: Mystery, Contemporary | Young Adult
Release Date: 27th August 2013
Publishers: Back Bay
No. Pages: 320
Source: Borrowed
Buy From: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Waterstones
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..

Ever stumbled across books randomly and just looked at it - just looked, and felt a tug, something drawing you towards the novel. There's no logic behind it, you just find yourself picking it up and deciding, there and then, that it's a book you have to read, need to read? I do on rare occasions, and on one of these rare occasions, I picked up Dare Me. Had I heard anything about it? Very little, it's definitely one of the more hidden, twisted, murder mysteries out there, and do I think this novel needs more notice. Like hell it sure does, it's too good, in so many ways, to miss out on.

Let me start with one very simple, possible make or break feature of this novel. Those cheerleaders and their cheerleading and their tricks and flips and tosses and rolls? They are pretty darn important to the novel as a whole, they set the scene, they create the tension that this novels steel backbone bounces off, it's the tower, the bar, the rod keeping this novel firmly in place, and without this feature, the passion, the raw ache of human nature and competition, or hunger and power, the rush of rage and romance, it would not work. I myself, am not a cheerleader - I've actually been a little.. prejudice of cheerleaders in the past, and it's far from the most viviting of spots or talents I like to watch, but in Dare Me, you cannot have this novel and eat read it without this feature, and if you cannot cope with this feature, you will not cope with this novel. It took me a while to personally see past the annoying fixture of cheerleading in Dare Me, but with time, with the enthralling and enticing nature of the novel, the mystery, the depth, the inner workings on teenage girls minds and their emotions, it definitely felt like an important part of my reading experience. If you can get absorbed into the intense storyline and the characters that Abbot weaves and creates, then you're already headed in the right direction.

Were this novel succeeds is it's twisted, fabricated nature of it's plot, it's storyline, it's characters and - well, everywhere I guess, but baby steps people, baby steps. Dare Me's storyline was, I can confidently say one of the most mesmorising reads of 2014, I was completely and utterly drawn into to it's feel and flow, it's writing wasn't, surprisingly off putting and there was never a moment I felt I was there, within the novel, first hand experiences, wondering, putting clues together, seeing, watching, reading, feeling to nature of this storyline. there's mystery, oh there's a mystery, there's many mysteries to this novel, the mystery surrounded by many mysteries, each character with many sides, two sides, three sides, four, all with different personalities, characteristics, mannerisms, this entire read was a mystery of utter confusion, but never in a frustrating way. I was always, constantly, desperate for more information, I was begging for more, for answers, for some clues, for a sign, the whole pacing, the short amount of time it took place in, the depth of these relationships, the whole entire feel of the novel just had me hook, line and sinker and I was completely in this story, there's no way I couldn't enjoy it. Dare Me's characters, their mutli-layered, lying, scheming, cheating, battered, bruised and beaten personalities, their twisted natures, their cries and their lies, their stand ups and sit downs, the rise and fall of some and the devastation that came with others, they all brought something new, something interesting, something, intriguing to the plate and I couldn't have loved it more. Addy and Beth, they were - they were amazing, their friendship, the blurred lines, the crossing of those lines, the exploration of each other, with one another, against one another, the rabbit and fox, and Addy and Beth's development around other people, their exploration of their bodies, of their sexuality, of their emotions and feelings, of their cracked backgrounds and interior inners, what went through their minds, what made them both tick, that was merely just a taste of the characters in Dare Me. Everyone from Emily to Collete, to Will's background and sense of power of French's devastation, complete and utter character drive, every one of these character drove themselves to the edge, pushed themselves further than you could have imagined, they pushed one another to the brink and boy was it fantastic to read. Emotions, passion, love, jealousy, rage, betrayal, truth, lies, heartbreak and so much more, Abbot through her all at this novel and I'm so so pleased to say that for me, it paid right off.

I would love to keep talking about this books drive, it's pacing which was perfect, its passion that leapt off the page, its fantastic storyline touching on sex, love and everything in between, the exploring of teenage girls, the power play involved and between them, the testing times, the tension, the teasing, the flirting, the frivolous nature, everything down to just making me shiver all over, the goosebumps people, they were real. I never expected to enjoy Dare Me as much as I did, and apart from it's editing issues which could have quite easily been solved had someone read over it a little more carefully, this novel was fantastic. It's bitchy, it's casual, it's passionate and powerful, it hits you if you can connect and relate and it stays with you, it lingers, and it creeps up on as you're reading it. You may not be gripped at the start, but if you're not gripping this book intensely by the end, then it's definitely going to be gripping you..


  1. Fantastic review Amanda :) This book was so gripping with a dark undertone and definitely showed cheerleaders in a different light! If you like Megan Abbott, I'd definitely recommend The End of Everything and The Fever - they're both written in her signature style and almost, if not just as amazing.

    1. Thanks Genie! I'm pleased you've recommended them, as I have The End of Everything out from the library and plan to read it this week, and I'm waiting to hear back about a copy of The Fever from the publishers, but I loved this, so I'm hoping her other work is brilliant too :)

  2. Ok, WHY have I not heard of this book before?!?! Definitely sounds like something I would like. Glad to see you enjoyed it so much! :)

    1. It's such an under the radar read, but so good. Good luck if you try it Lisa!

  3. Brilliant review, as always! I haven't really heard much of anything about this book before, but you have me intrigued. I hope you know that you're terrible for my endless TBR, you keep adding to it. This one just has me itching to pick it up and get lost in it. DAMN! >.<

    1. Oh I'm sorry Charnell! Hey, if you win my giveaway, you could get it! *wink wink* It could be a really good book for you, or could sink hugely, it's definitely a 'in the mood' read :)

  4. Man, I really missed the mark on this one. We read this for Forgotten Fridays, and I totally just did not like this one at all, but I was the outsider on this one. I hated that some of the adults acted like immature kids, and placed real underage people in harm's way because they wanted to act stupid.


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