Review : Dare Me by Meagan Abbott

April 5, 2013 3 - 3.5 Stars, Bullying, Cheerleaders, Drama, Mean Girls, Suicide 3 ★★★

Dare Me by Meagan Abbott
Published by Reagan Arthur Books on July 31, 2012
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery
Pages: 290
Format: Hardcover
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.
In “Dare Me,” a group of high school cheerleaders finds their “Queen Bee” status challenged with the arrival of Colette French, their new coach.  The girls had no use and no respect for their previous coach; they “owned” her.  When Coach French enters the girls’ world, she commands their respect.  She breaks them down and whips them into shape.  But cracks soon begin to show in Coach’s professional facade as she crosses boundaries with these girls, inviting them into her home and supplying them with alcohol. She draws particularly and disturbingly close to Addy, the novel’s narrator.  Addy is understandably flattered by Coach’s attention, while we readers sense approaching danger as Addy gains increasing exposure to Coach’s very grown-up troubles.  Meanwhile, Beth, Addy’s long-time best friend and head “mean girl” is jealous and resentful of the growing relationship between Coach and Addy, and Beth’s threats become increasingly ominous as she strives to hold onto both Addy and her own status.  A shocking event halfway through the novel upends relationships.  The mystery of what really happened winds through to the end of the book.

It’s been a long time since I was a teenage girl, but even those of us who weren’t Queen Bees can relate to the universal teenage plagues of jealousy and insecurities in “Dare Me. ” And I enjoyed the inside look of the cheerleader culture, which seems a bit like a secret society with rigidly enforced rules and roles.

Final note – to those who enjoyed “Dare Me,” another wonderfully written book with a similar theme is Before I Fall, by Lauren Oliver.

Review posted at Goodreads and Amazon


3 Responses to “Review : Dare Me by Meagan Abbott”

  1. rivie bleu

    If I understood correctly, the main character is kind of a mean girl too or at least at first. It seems like most books I’ve read are always from the point of view of the character that never fits in or that gets bullied. It’d be interesting to see the perspective of the mean bully running the school

  2. malvoliosStockings

    I think i first heard about this book from people magazine. I’ve been wondering if its any good. So thanks for your helpful review. Sounds like it might be good.

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