Saturday, August 4, 2012

Book Review: "Dare Me" by Megan Abbott

Megan Abbott's Dare Me is a bit of Mean Girls twisted with Bring It On, and even a bit of Heathers, but it's darker and more fun than that.

Beth Cassidy has been captain of the cheerleading squad for years, ruling the squad—and all of the girls—with an iron fist and a razor-sharp tongue, combining fear and actual motivation. Addy Hanlon has always been Beth's lieutenant and best friend, helping her dole out the discipline for the reward of being Beth's chosen one, and together, as senior cheerleaders, they are feared and admired.

And then the new coach, Colette French, arrives. She immediately changes things, ensuring the girls' loyalty only to her, and taps Addy to be her protegé and confidante, which leaves Beth in the cold—but she doesn't stay down for long. Beth uses all of her cunning to attempt to undermine the Coach's authority and her relationship with Addy. And the more fodder Beth finds, the more she uses it to get what she wants, with disastrous results. But in the end, she realizes that what she does want, she can no longer have.

This was a really enjoyable book, as it exposed both the wiles and the insecurity of high school girls hungry for recognition, for notoriety, and most of all, for acceptance and praise. While at times the book veers a bit into melodramatic territory, I thought Megan Abbott did a great job creating an interesting and complex band of characters, more than the typical teen clichés. Obviously, being neither a high school cheerleader or a girl, I can't identify with the characters, but they seem pretty realistic. Definitely a twisted book that might make you squirm a bit, but you'll also be impressed with Abbott's storytelling ability.

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