After Bel Canto, which took me around 2 weeks or so to finish, Dare Me came as a super-quick and engaging read right off the bat, and I finished it in less than a week. It’s less than 300 pages, so that might have done the trick, but I kept wanting to pick it up, even during times when computer, crafts, or friends would have me otherwise occupied.
Dare Me is the story of a group of 16 year old cheerleaders, all rail-thin but toned, the beautiful girls everyone loves and hates at once.
Addy Hanlon is our narrator and lieutenant to Beth Cassidy, her best friend and the captain (and queen bitch) of the squad.
Things begin to change rapidly for the squad, especially Addy and Beth’s friendship, when the new coach Colette French arrives. She is 27, just a shade of a decade older than them, beautiful, perfect, demanding. Addy longs to be her favorite cheerleader, along with the rest of the squad. But because Coach French has taken the reigns, the only position Beth will settle for, Beth is unimpressed. She has always been on top, and she will do whatever it takes to stay that way. Then a suicide forces coach and the squad into an investigation that only proves to aid Beth in tangling people in her twisted webs, getting what she wants in any way she can.
Being the nerdy, non-athletic, non-cheerleader girl I am, I felt a distance from the story. I am lucky enough to have never felt the need to starve myself thin. I don’t know what half the stunts or positions they do are. But that’s not the important part of the story. The important thing is about growing up, about the ties that bind. About changing from a girl to a woman, about becoming the best you hope to be.
It’s about lust and anger and despair and proof that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. All of these uncomfortable emotions, the fear of losing your friends, of them destroying you, of you hurting them, of wanting to be the top girl, the most popular. Those are relatable. Being lost and completely submerged in technology, that is something I relate to.
But Megan Abbott also adds a mystery to the story, which I really enjoyed. I couldn’t wait to see what else would unfold, to try and solve it myself, to see if it ever would be solved. To find out, you’ll just have to read.
I shouldn’t be surprised, but the book was dark. Heavy. And I had a hard time believing that a 16-17 year old girl would speak the way Addy narrates. But then again, teenagers have a way of being overdramatic, and perhaps that was the goal?
If I could compare it to something else, I would say the movie Black Swan. That doesn’t mean it’s anything like it, that you should expect it to be. But both tell the story of young women testing themselves, changing and molding in ways they didn’t think possible. Attempting to grow up, to be better, do better, and spiraling and getting lost along the way.
It’s not one of my favorite books, but it hooked me like gossip magazines and was so easy to read, and sometimes you need that escape.