Dare Me is disturbing. There’s no two ways about it.
The relationship between teenagers and morbid curiosity has always been a source of inspiration for authors since Romeo and Juliet first decided they couldn’t live without each other. What makes Megan Abbott’s book stand out from the market is the way in which it delves into the intense relationships and often incestous tendencies of tight-knit groups of girls.
Teenagers have their issues, whilst fighting with their parents they also have the stresses of exams, popularity and weight to contend with. All of these factors are addressed in this novel which made for a pretty tense read and at times the story felt quite claustrophobic. The power games played out are very interesting and by using the social clique of cheerleaders, Megan Abbott is able to use her most creative writing skills to highlight the power of idle gossip and jealousies.
Clearly a YA novel, I did find some parts of Dare Me particularly hard to read. I’ve never been a fan of reading about suicide, and I honestly don’t think many people are – but death does feature heavily in this book. Perhaps it is because some teenagers mourn the death of their childhood and grieve for innocence. The cheerleaders in this novel, particularly Beth the captain, are adament to act older than their age. By sexually rebelling most of the characters claim power they are too young to wield. The dangerous jealousies that are exposed in this novel are borne from such immaturity that you doubt the girls have made that full and risky leap into adulthood. Even the girls’ coach is a victim of Peter Pan syndrome as she bonds with the girls – particularly with Beth’s BFF Addy – in what can only be described as lonely desperation. I felt sorry for Coach French throughout this book and her own tragic story is one which you will discover when you read this novel.
This book is incredibly powerful and absorbing and full of suspense. Think Skins meets Gossip Girl and then add a touch of the sinister and you have Dare Me.
Dare Me is due for release this May.