Title: Dare Me
Author: Megan Abbott
Release Date: July 31, 2012
Publisher: Reagan Arthur Books
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Addy has always been Beth’s sidekick, and she likes it that way. While Beth lords over the girls, captain of their high school cheerleading squad, Addy’s the one who makes sure her orders are followed. But when a new, young cheerleading coach, Colette French, makes her appearance, all of a sudden everything changes. Addy and the rest of the cheerleaders are taken in by the mysterious Coach French and her glamorous ways. Only Beth resists Coach French’s allure, and she becomes determined to bring Colette down at any cost.
Dare Me is a disturbing look inside the minds of teenage girls. Addy is a sympathetic, if easily influenced, young woman who’s looking for someone to follow. First it’s Beth; she’s clearly the queen bee in this novel, and when Coach French steps into the picture and threatens that, Beth doesn’t like it one bit. She’s more difficult to sympathize with, but it’s clear that Beth is emotionally damaged. She believes that, by bringing Coach French down, she can return things to where they were, and Addy is caught in the middle of her private war.
Coach French, on the other hand, is just as twisted as Beth, but in a different way. It’s clear that she’s lonely; though she’s married and has a young child, she doesn’t get much socialization with people her own age. Instead of seeking out friends and confidantes, she turns her cheerleaders into the people she trusts most, treating these impressionable high schoolers as adults. The confidences she shares with Addy are chilling, considering the fact she’s supposed to be a role model that these girls can look up to.
The novel also asks provocative questions about the nature of love, and how loyalty factors into it. What is love? How far do we go to protect those we love? And do loyalty and love go hand in hand? Addy is torn between Beth and Coach French; she knows Coach French underestimates Beth’s powers of manipulation, as well as the lengths she’ll go to in order to get what she wants. But she loves both Coach French and Beth. Where do her loyalties lie?
If you’re looking for a novel that will help you sleep soundly at night, Dare Me isn’t it. It’s incredibly disturbing, but it’s completely gripping, and you’ll want to read it in one sitting. It would also make an incredibly good book club pick, as it’s very provocative and will leave readers contemplating it long after the last pages are turned. Abbott is incredible at writing books with difficult subject matters. She gets into her characters’ heads and it’s difficult to remember that they are merely words on a page. If you’re looking for an intelligent read that will really make you think (and perhaps slightly terrify you), Dare Me is a great book to pick up.
Other books by Megan Abbott: