I was initially drawn to this book after seeing it mentioned on the ChapterStackss YouTube channel, she mentioned it as being recommended by Gillian Flynn, and although I have yet to get around to reading one of her books (so many books, no where near enough time!) I have a pretty good feeling that I will enjoy them as they fall into the psychological thriller category. Megan Abbott's Dare Me falls into the same category but with a twist, it is an adult crime novel that revolves around the lives of a group of cheerleaders. That alone had me hooked!
Dare Me is voiced by Addy, the second cheerleader in the squad, the best friend of the Queen Bee Beth, when Beth says jump, Addy tells the girls to hop to it and joins in too. They rule their school. When a new young and personable coach comes along in the form of Colette French and spoils the Queen's fun, Addy gets caught in the crossfire. As teenage obsession goes to new lengths and a crime is committed, the inner workings of a teenage girls mind reveals that being a minor in no way means that you shouldn't be a suspect.
I think it was ultimately the reveal about how cheerleaders are still gritty, and quite nasty teenagers underneath all the perky ponytails and wide grins that drew me in, I was hoping to see a novel which isn't all about teen angst but instead touching upon adult topics, and that was exactly what Dare Me is. It was almost like Mean Girls crossed with Law and Order (On Wednesdays we wear pink, dun dun) The importance for sometimes trivial things to teenagers was beautifully demonstrated throughout the novel, the interplay between a petty squabble and then a seemingly quite dark and venomous revenge plot was refreshing in its contrast. The girls were at one point squabbling over a bracelet when there had been a very suspicious and serious death only hours before. It had the mind and the emotions reeling as a reader.
For me this story also demonstrated how dangerous a teenager can be, and how society does not immediately jump to the conclusion that they could be anything more than an innocent bystander unless they have been shown to have personal issues. With the raft of school massacres that have occurred in the states over the years, you would think that teenagers would come under suspicion in the same way that an adult would if they were found to be linked to a crime, but in Dare Me, Abbott highlighted the reality that authorities can sometimes find it difficult to see past the pep to the turmoil within. What I found truly refreshing about this though was that the other teenagers could see the potential danger, and were truly afraid of it. Having been a teenager not so long ago myself, I can honestly say that I too would worry about some teens and their good intentions, and I could identify with the turmoil of Addy's situation.
Dare Me is a great read if you are looking for something to lead you from the typical teen drama into an adult crime novel, or if you are into being slightly freaked out by the possibilities when it comes to your psychological thrillers, either way, Dare Me will make you consider teenagers a little differently!
Dare Me is currently £5.59 from the Book Depository