Book review: Dare Me by Megan Abbott

I picked this book up from my local library without knowing anything about the novel or the author, but I thought the premise sounded quite intriguing…

dareWhen Colette French arrives at school one fall and takes charge of the cheer squad, she brings a hint of threat. Sleek, remote and careless, she transforms the girls into warriors – and rivals. Addy and Beth find that for the first time they have secrets from one another. But their mentor is playing her own deadly game, and there is everything to lose.

At first I did struggle a little to get into this book. The narrator, Addy, speaks in short, clipped sentences and there is a lot of American teenage and cheerleading slang thrown in which made it a bit hard to follow. But I soon got into it, and I found myself sucked into the seedy world of Addy and her cheerleading friends – the bitchiness, diet pills and late night boozing. It is quite a stark and uncompromising depiction of this life, and how it has taken over everything the group of girls does. I also found the way the coach gets involved with the girls on a personal level interesting, and her relationship with Addy, and the affect this had on Beth, was also fascinating.

It is really the dynamic between these three characters that is central to the whole novel, and the ways this triangle develops is intriguing and really kept me reading. Beth in particular is an unsympathetic and cold character, who is horrible to the other girls and the new coach, but obviously loves her friend Addy – even if she has a funny way of showing it at times!

Where this book fell down a bit for me was with the thriller aspect, which didn’t really work for me. It wasn’t gripping enough for me, and also the ‘twists’ in the tale were a bit unconvincing too. I think this book would have worked without this whole sub-plot, as the dynamic between the girls and the coach was interesting enough.

Overall I did like this book, and I am pretty sure it’s the first book on cheerleading I’ve ever read! It gave an interesting insight into the dark world the girls inhabit, and it was quite depressing at times. For me, though, it would have worked better if it had stuck to this alone without the murder sub-plot.

My rating: 7 out of 10



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