Book Banter: Dare Me by Megan Abbott

2791536Title: Dare Me
Author: Megan Abbott
Genre: Mystery
Length: 290 pages
Where Stacie’s Copy Came From: Oshkosh Public Library

Plot Basics:  Is there such a thing as friends that are too close?  That know too much about each other?  Beth and Addy  have been friends for ages, secure in their roles of Captain and Lieutenant, respectively.  A change in their cheerleading coach – an almost random event – forces them to evaluate their roles and relationship.

Banter Points:  I went into this book with a few preconceived notions.  I heard Meg speak at Murder and Mayhem in Muskego and expected this to fit in the thriller or mystery crowd that typically congregates there.

As I started the book, the wit and humor reminded me of a former TV show — Veronica Mars.  I kept waiting for the dead body and the mystery to appear.  It does, eventually, but only after the reader knows more about the girls, their new coach, the rest of the cheer squad and the changing relationships between all.

The characters face very real issues that, as a parent, scare me to death.  Technology has changed the environment that my kids are growing up in and it isn’t necessarily for the best.  One of the characters uses her cell phone and other technology so effectively for twisting everything to meet her needs that I felt like I should be taking notes on how to rule the world.

Bummer Points:  The writing, like the cheer squad, is tight and crisp.  The unveiling of a world that is dominated by teen girls makes it hard for me to know who to recommend it too.  I would have reservations about recommending it to teen girls because of the content; it might give them ideas or validate behavior that they already experience into the category of normal.  Yet, it is exactly how girls behave.  It lets the reader into a secret world of popular, pretty girls; it isn’t as pretty on the inside.  It makes me thankful that I am old and didn’t have those challenges in addition to the ones I did have in high school.  As their coachs states, “There’s something dangerous about the boredom of teenage girls.”

It also makes me sad that as a society, this is what we do with the cool gadgets and toys that we carry in our pockets.  Aren’t we better than that?  It does explain the popularity of dystopia novels where the tech is gone and man is battling nature again, rather than fellow man.

Stacie’s Recommendation:  The books I love best are the ones that stick with you, and challenge the way you think.  This one definitely fits that category, but I would not give it a solid recommendation to all readers.  It’s one that I would selectively recommend to those that would appreciate it most.

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