Friday, 17 January 2014


Dare Me by Megan Abbott

There's something dangerous about the boredom of teenage girls. Coach said that once. She said it like she knew, and understood.

When Collette 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.

I have literally no idea who this book is for. To me, it felt like the story was for teens, but the writing was for adults. It's not a cross-over book, I've read a lot of those, this was just an odd mix and once I'd gotten used to that, I'd actually started to get bored. Because this is a very long, very slow book. 

And, actually, for a thriller, it wasn't especially thrilling. I didn't care who had done what, or why, and the resolution didn't cause any kind of reaction. The most interesting thing about it, to me at least, was the relationship between Addy and Beth, and then the group of cheerleaders as a collective. Addy and Beth's relationship is tested by the arrival of the new coach, but I wanted to know more about them. I wanted to see them getting along, since that might have made me care when things started to fall apart. I think my favourite moment between the two of them was when they "shared" a chocolate muffin towards the end of the book - enjoying the taste but then spitting out mouthfuls before swallowing. It was a tiny little scene, hardly worth mentioning, but it stuck with me because it told me so much about the two of them.

The other cheerleaders interested me, too - RiRi and Emily and Tacy. I wanted to spend time with them, watching them interact with each other. Sadly, they were sidelined in favour of Coach French, who, frankly I found quite boring after the first few chapters. She was interesting when she was aloof and distant and unreachable. Then she started to open up a little and she just became dull.

I really think part of the reason I didn't enjoy this book is because I thought it was going to be a young adult thriller - fast-paced, interesting, snappy. It wasn't. It was pretty dull overall, and that's a shame because it could have been so good. Just strip back some of the prose, shift the focus from the adults to the teens, and you've got it. This is what happens when I read adult books - they bore me and I spend more time than I should thinking about how much better they'd be if they'd been written for teens.

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