Dare Me by Megan Abbott
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Beth and Addy have been the top dogs on the cheerleading squad for years. When a new coach comes in and upsets the apple cart, how will Beth react to her role being usurped? And what dark things are waiting in the wings for Coach French?
Wow. I've said it before but Megan Abbott makes the politics of teenage girls look as brutal as the Game of Thrones.
Dare Me is a look behind the curtain at what makes teenage girls tick, specifically the ones motivated to be cheerleaders. Eating disorders, cattiness, the whole nine yards. When the Coach arrives and usurps Beth's role in the squad, things quickly start falling apart. Beth goes on a calculated rampage, the Coach's unhappiness is exposed, and Addy is stuck trying to hold everything together.
You wouldn't think a tale about cheerleaders would be this dark but the girls are like a pack of wolves, pouncing on any pack member that makes a misstep. Beth was pretty slick and would make a great femme fatale once she gets a few more years on her. Coach French seemed like she became a coach because it was the only part of her life she had control over. Addy's struggle between her loyalty to Beth and her new relationship with the coach kept the plot rocketing forward.
There's a twist near the halfway point that sends the book veering into standard noir territory. While I was pretty sure who the culprit was, Megan had me off on tangents a few times. I had an inkling of how the book was going to end but that did little to lessen the impact. It still hit like a cheerleader's head on an unpadded gym floor.
As of this writing, I've read five or six Megan Abbott books and this one was my favorite yet. Five out of five stars.
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