Published by Reagan Arthur Books
Publication date: July 31st 2012
Written with all the hip-popping, hyper-hormonal intensity of teenage girls, Dare Me takes everything you’ve ever thought about cheerleaders and magnifies it tenfold. A group of girls, part of the most exclusive club in high school, basking in the spray tan glow of their fame, find they’ve just been ‘playing’ at cheerleading when a new, taut, ruthless coach takes over and suddenly, eating is something for wimps, a word of praise from her is better than a hamburger and fries.
Dare Me takes the best and worst of the cheerleading stereotypes and teams them up to make a novel that rushes the field and makes the heart pound with their stomp-clap power. There is the de-facto captain and her steadfast lieutenant running the squad until the new queen arrives and pushes them aside. From there the plot processes just in the way that high school does—with innuendo, misinformation, and emotions fueled by hoodia lollipops and Red Bull. With all the precision of a well-trained squad author Megan Abbott marshals the reader through the story, never once missing a step. The narrator, Addy, the lieutenant to captain Beth, tells the story in the same jaggedy way all teens try and explain what is really too-intense-for-adults-to-understand.
The subject matter being cheerleading and high school, I think this is a YA book but maybe not. At least I pray it’s not because the bitchery and emotional violence these girls practice is frightening to read. Abbott walks right up to the line of walk-away and hangs there, keeping the pages turning. Her writing is as precise and spot-on as a well-trained squad. In its own way, Dare Me is as compelling and twisted as Gone Girl, made even worse by a cast of Lost Girls—uber-popular at school but without a single responsible adult in their lives. Fueled by their wacked out emotions and lack of food these girls take the lust for power and popularity to places that would make a grown-up cry. In an odd twist of ageism, I’m pretty sure my teen nieces would say I was too old to read this.