Dare Me: A Novel
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Dare Me: A Novel

3.4 42
by Megan Abbott
     
 

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"I dare you not to love this book. You lucky reader."—-Tom Franklin, New York Times bestselling author ofCrooked Letter, Crooked Letter

Addy Hanlon has always been Beth Cassidy's best friend and trusted lieutenant. Beth calls the shots and Addy carries them out, a long-established order of things that has brought them to the

Overview

"I dare you not to love this book. You lucky reader."—-Tom Franklin, New York Times bestselling author ofCrooked Letter, Crooked Letter

Addy Hanlon has always been Beth Cassidy's best friend and trusted lieutenant. Beth calls the shots and Addy carries them out, a long-established order of things that has brought them to the pinnacle of their high-school careers. Now they're seniors who rule the intensely competitive cheer squad, feared and followed by the other girls — until the young new coach arrives.

Cool and commanding, an emissary from the adult world just beyond their reach, Coach Colette French draws Addy and the other cheerleaders into her life. Only Beth, unsettled by the new regime, remains outside Coach's golden circle, waging a subtle but vicious campaign to regain her position as "top girl" — both with the team and with Addy herself.

Then a suicide focuses a police investigation on Coach and her squad. After the first wave of shock and grief, Addy tries to uncover the truth behind the death — and learns that the boundary between loyalty and love can be dangerous terrain.

The raw passions of girlhood are brought to life in this taut, unflinching exploration of friendship, ambition, and power. Award-winning novelist Megan Abbott, writing with what Tom Perrotta has hailed as "total authority and an almost desperate intensity," provides a harrowing glimpse into the dark heart of the all-American girl.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
PRAISE FOR DARE ME:"

A fascinating, almost voyeuristic, glimpse into the power struggle that goes on between teenaged girls. Not just any teenaged girls-cheerleaders-with their own unique hierarchy and fierce code of loyalty, which they'll protect at any cost. There's a dark and twisted love story here, told with a rich sensual undertone that lingers long after you close the last page, still breathing in your ear: Dare me."—Chevy Stevens, New York Times bestselling author of Still Missing and Never Knowing"

Arresting, original and unputdownable."—Rosamund Lupton, New York Times bestselling author of Sister"

DARE ME sneaks up on you from behind, pulling on long-forgotten memories of teenaged desperation, obsession, and desire. This is truly masterful storytelling."—Alafair Burke, author of Never Tell"

Megan Abbott's brilliant new book presents a number of possibilities-the mysterious and the erotic, as well as the inevitable and paradoxical lessons of girlhood-with such illumination that the joyful terrors of adolescence were once again present in me. Abbott's characters, confronted with unaccustomed questions and strange, new difficulties, remind us that the loss of innocence can, if we are fortunate, emerge into a lustrous wisdom."—Susanna Moore, author of In the Cut

Alafair Burke
"DARE ME sneaks up on you from behind, pulling on long-forgotten memories of teenaged desperation, obsession, and desire. This is truly masterful storytelling."
Rosamund Lupton
"Arresting, original and unputdownable."
Chevy Stevens
PRAISE FOR DARE ME:

"A fascinating, almost voyeuristic, glimpse into the power struggle that goes on between teenaged girls. Not just any teenaged girls-cheerleaders-with their own unique hierarchy and fierce code of loyalty, which they'll protect at any cost. There's a dark and twisted love story here, told with a rich sensual undertone that lingers long after you close the last page, still breathing in your ear: Dare me."

Susanna Moore
"Megan Abbott's brilliant new book presents a number of possibilities-the mysterious and the erotic, as well as the inevitable and paradoxical lessons of girlhood-with such illumination that the joyful terrors of adolescence were once again present in me. Abbott's characters, confronted with unaccustomed questions and strange, new difficulties, remind us that the loss of innocence can, if we are fortunate, emerge into a lustrous wisdom."
Publishers Weekly
Edgar Award-winner Abbott dives into a gut-churning tale of revenge, power, desire, and friendship in the insular world of high school cheerleading, in her latest (after The End of Everything). Addy Hanlon, 16, has always been second lieutenant, “fidus Achates,” to her best friend Beth, who’s pep squad captain. But when a new coach flippantly removes Beth from power and takes Abby as her confidante, Beth turns vengeful. The new coach transforms the squad, changing it from a costumed clique to a competitive team and earning the cheerleaders’ adulation, but the squad’s development has a darker side: eating disorders, rivalries, cruelty, and the blurring of lines between student and adult. The coach has a darker side, too, and Abby is drawn into her secrets, including a troubled marriage. A shocking turn sends everyone spiraling wildly—and traps Abby in the middle. Abbott’s writing in her sixth novel is deliciously slick and dark, matching her characters’ threatening circumstances, and the plot is tight and intense, building a world in which even the perky flip of a cheerleader’s skirt holds menace. “There’s something dangerous about the boredom of teenage girls,” one character says. Indeed. Agent: Dan Conaway, Writers House. (July)
Tom Franklin
"I dare you not to love this book. You lucky reader."
Daniel Woodrell
"In Dare Me Megan Abbott guides us into the subculture of athletic and fierce young cheerleaders, who train together, compete, andbond until they form a rugged unit much as Marines form a rugged unit. She finds the nearly sinister underside of everyday events and somehow builds great suspense from ingredients that seem so familiar. Abbott has become expert at revealing truths we thought we knew but didn't, delivered in prose that is by turns elegant and incantatory."
Library Journal
Abbott's (The End of Everything) new novel takes readers behind the glitter and pom-poms of a varsity cheerleading squad to explore the dark undercurrents of high school girls. Captain Beth Cassidy, her first lieutenant Addy Hanlon, and the rest of the squad are upended when their school hires a new cheerleading coach. Sleek and knowing, Coach Collette French slices through their bravado and turns the girls into true athletes rather than merely "cheerlebrities." This results in an atmosphere in which some alpha girls falter, while others rise through the ranks. But the coach's relationship with the girls outside of school drags them into a very adult world of romantic entanglements, culminating in a shocking crime that threatens them all. VERDICT Abbott has a keen sense for the beauty, danger, and vulnerability of teenage girls; her spare, elegant prose cuts straight to the heart of the high school pecking order and brings the girls' world to life. Recommended for readers who enjoy dramatic stories about female relationships; it may also appeal to mature young adult readers. [See Prepub Alert, 1/21/12; seven-city tour.]—Amy Hoseth, Colorado State Univ. Lib., Fort Collins
Kirkus Reviews
Following the direction taken by her last novel (The End of Everything, 2011, etc.), Edgar winner Abbott again delivers an unsettling look at the inner life of adolescent girls in the guise of a crime story. The setting is an unnamed, frighteningly familiar town that could be found anywhere in contemporary America. Narrator Addy has been lifelong best friend to Beth, now the powerful captain of Sutton Grove High School's cheerleading squad. The cheerleaders are popular mean girls, and Beth is the meanest and most popular. Then a new coach, young and pretty Colette French, arrives. She immediately asserts her authority, not only taking away the girls' cell phones, but also announcing there will be no squad captain. A battle of wills ensues between Coach and Beth. Skilled at manipulation, Coach has the early upper hand. The girls respond to her tight discipline as well as to her perfect hair and her invitations to hang out at her carefully decorated house, where she lives with her workaholic husband and little girl. In particular, Coach befriends Addy, whose relationship with Beth has been strained since a dark episode at cheerleading camp the summer before. Addy tries to balance her increasingly divided loyalties but is gradually pulled into Coach's orbit. Soon, Addy is spending more time at Coach's house than anyone else. When Beth and Addy catch Coach having sex in the faculty lounge with a handsome National Guard recruiting officer assigned to the high school, Addy swears Beth to silence. But Beth's simmering resentment and jealousy concerning Addy's relationship with Coach have reached a boiling point by the time the officer turns up dead in his apartment. The whodunit aspect surrounding this death pales against the dark sexual and psychological currents that ripple among the girls (and Coach); the question of who is emotional victim versus who is predator becomes murkier and more disturbing than any detective puzzle. Compelling, claustrophobic and slightly creepy in a can't-put-it-down way.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780316097789
Publisher:
Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:
08/27/2013
Pages:
290
Sales rank:
98,575
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)

What People are saying about this

Entertainment Weekly
Abbott's latest is not only a page-turning mystery—it's also a close look at teen girls' ferocious rivalries and intense bonds.
—Entertainment Weekly ("Summer Must List" column)
Chevy Stevens
A fascinating, almost voyeuristic, glimpse into the power struggle that goes on between teenaged girls. Not just any teenaged girls—cheerleaders—with their own unique hierarchy and fierce code of loyalty, which they'll protect at any cost. There's a dark and twisted love story here, told with a rich sensual undertone that lingers long after you close the last page, still breathing in your ear: Dare me.
—Chevy Stevens, NYT bestselling author of STILL MISSING and NEVER KNOWING
Susanna Moore
Megan Abbott's brilliant new book presents a number of possibilities — the mysterious and the erotic, as well as the inevitable and paradoxical lessons of girlhood — with such illumination that the joyful terrors of adolescence were once again present in me. Abbott's characters, confronted with unaccustomed questions and strange, new difficulties, remind us that the loss of innocence can, if we are fortunate, emerge into a lustrous wisdom.
—Susanna Moore, author of IN THE CUT
Rosamund Lupton
Arresting, original and unputdownable.
—Rosamund Lupton, NYT bestselling author of SISTER
Daniel Woodrell
In Dare Me Megan Abbott guides us into the subculture of athletic and fierce young cheerleaders, who train together, compete, andbond until they form a rugged unit much as Marines form a rugged unit. She finds the nearly sinister underside of everyday events and somehow builds great suspense from ingredients that seem so familiar. Abbott has become expert at revealing truths we thought we knew but didn't, delivered in prose that is by turns elegant and incantatory.
—Daniel Woodrell, author of WINTER'S BONE
Tom Franklin
I dare you not to love this book. You lucky reader.
—Tom Franklin, NYT bestselling author of CROOKED LETTER, CROOKED LETTER
Alafair Burke
DARE ME sneaks up on you from behind, pulling on long-forgotten memories of teenaged desperation, obsession, and desire.
This is truly masterful storytelling.
—Alafair Burke, author of NEVER TELL
Rosamund Lipton
Arresting, original and unputdownable. (Rosamund Lipton, NYT bestselling author of Sister)

Meet the Author

Megan Abbott is the Edgar Award-winning author of five previous novels. She received her Ph.D. in literature from New York University and has taught literature, writing, and film at NYU, the New School, and SUNY-Oswego. She lives in New York City.

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Dare Me: A Novel 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 42 reviews.
anovelreview_blogspot_com More than 1 year ago
Addy Hanlon and her best friend Beth Cassidy rule their cheer squad; Beth as captain and Addy her lieutenant. The squad doesn’t just look up to them—their afraid of them. But when Colette French walks into the gym and takes over as cheer coach everything gets flipped around. Coach French has every intention of taking her girls to regionals and she needs to get them ready. First things first she dethrones the cheer captain. Beth seems to lose interest in cheer and begins running more wild than usual. Addy is preoccupied running after Coach. The girls are getting stronger and better at cheer. The coach starts having them over for late night drinking parties. Coach French begins turning her attention to Addy. She begins entrusting her talking to her like she was an adult girlfriend instead of a girl on her cheer squad. Addy's new bff seems to be Coach French. But we haven't seen the last of Beth. She's been watching and waiting in the wings. Coach French thought she could take away her captain's position on the squad? Beth wants Coach to pay for what she's done. As the girls prepare for the game of their high school cheer career, there is a suicide. Addy finds herself right in the middle of it all. Entangled in a web of lies. Dare Me is filled with sex, lies, alcohol, eating disorders and brimming with teenage angst, but that’s just the first few chapters! I have to admit it took me a few pages to connect with first person, Addy. I’ve read a number of books with a teenage protagonist, but the authenticity of Addy’s voice was dead on—I felt like this is how my teenage daughter or her friends would think! Not only did Abbott nail it with the voice, but with Addy’s perspective. Addy seems obsessed with her new coach, she wants to replace coach with her best friend Beth. And Coach! Coach French is an odd one. She seems to be someone who peeked in high school and isn’t ready for the grown-up world. The more I read it seemed like her dethroning of Beth had less to do with the squad and was more about replacing herself in Beth’s position. She didn't seem coach like, more like one of the girls. With each page I delved deeper into the dark world of high school. Parents turning a blind eye to what is going on with their kids and the kids being in such a rush to grow up. Suddenly, the story takes on a dark twist. I actually stopped counting how many times I put the book down in my lap and said, “holy—“ yeah, it’s that good! I really figured I knew where it was headed, I was wrong. Then I thought something else, yeah wrong again. I no longer knew who or what to believe! I just knew I couldn’t stop reading until everything was revealed. I thought it was an awesome book! Amazing! Loved it! Fresh, different and authentic! I recommend grabbing a glass of wine and get ready for a long night of reading!
simple344 More than 1 year ago
There are only few books with a great storyline. This was one of them. A great summer read.
OtotheD More than 1 year ago
Sugar and spice and everything nice, that’s what little girls are made of, or at least that’s what the old nursery rhyme claims, but it’s not the case with the cheerleaders in Megan Abbott’s wildly original Dare Me. Addy’s spent most of her life as Beth’s right-hand girl. Best friends since grade school, the two of them are inseparable. Beth is queen bee of the cheerleading squad, and Addy helps her keep the rest of the girls on the squad in check and humiliated as needed. That is, until Colette French, the new coach, arrives. Coach’s first order of business is to do away with the current pecking order, switching things up and ousting Beth as team captain. She’s determined to turn this squad of high-kicking, ass-shakers into a competitive team — competitive being the operative word. As the girls fall under Coach’s spell, Addy and the rest of the girls find their limits tested, their lives changed and their friendships threatened, culminating in a delicious murder mystery that will leave the reader turning pages well past their bedtime. I wasn’t familiar with Ms. Abbott’s books before Dare Me, but she definitely has a new fan. This book is addicting and written with such passion, the intensity practically jumps off the page and smacks you. Addy is our narrator and Ms. Abbott writes with such a deep POV, that you can’t help but feel every leap, shin splint, heartache and fear that pours out of Addy. All of the characters are rich and complex. I was totally grabbed by Coach French, and could totally understand why the girls wanted so badly to please her, even if she is a little messed up. The story moves at a wonderful pace and perfectly blends high school drama, intensity and an unexpected murder mystery that will keep you guessing. It’s also a deep character study into the needs, desires and complexities of teenage girls. When I first read that this was about cheerleaders, I wasn’t sure I would be interested, but the cheerleading aspect isn’t typical. These girls aren’t the group of cliché, vapid airheads shouting “Go-Fight-Win” while shaking their pom-poms and smacking bubblegum. Coach changes them into something much darker, and their intensity is both contagious and a little frightening. I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
like fight club meets mean girls by way of bring it on (with a hint of the craft and flavors of the specifically feminine nastiness of a gillian flynn novel), if only fight club didn't blow.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the best books I've read all year.
wendyrig More than 1 year ago
I didn't think this book was that great, and I never felt any connection with the characters. While high school girls can be nasty, it just didn't seem real - none of the characters were very believable. Coach was a terrible role model her actions and interactions with other characters didn't seem real at all. Parents are hardly mentioned either. While I get that age group will sneak off and do things they're not supposed to - they never get caught, and there are no consequences -ever. I did read the entire book, because I wanted to know what happened at the end, but the book just didn't move me.
RobertDowns More than 1 year ago
Let's be clear from the get go. If you want a more traditional review with a book summary, plot synopsis, and a character family tree, and then possibly a discussion on what the author was trying to accomplish in DARE ME and whether or not she actually achieved her goals, then you'll probably just want to slide it on back and move on to the next review. Because I'm about as non-traditional as they come. Instead, I like discussing how a book made me feel, or didn't feel, discussing writing insights where appropriate, tossing around similes and metaphors like used car parts in a Dumpster, and talking about my overall experience with a book, while taking into account my own knowledge of writing and reading and plain old random crap. In other words, I don't really know what I'm doing, but I have a damn good time being ignorant. So I'll start with this: Teenage girls are evil and manipulative. A female praying mantis treats her mate better than high school girls treat each other. And each manages to accomplish this task with a smile on her face and nothing but love in her heart, right before she brings out the icepick and wields it around the same way a construction worker might employ a two-by-four in the middle of a construction zone. One might argue the mystery was a bit thin, but this book transcended the typical books in this genre, and proved there's more to a mystery than just the identity of the killer and the resolution of the crime. Instead, this was more about cheerleaders and their penchant to attack one another with vengeance, high school drama that unfolded before me on the page in pinks and purples and shades of red, and the extremes captains and coaches go to all in the name of victory. Yes, cheerleading is a sport, and in some parts of the country it's mentioned in the Sunday prayers along with football and your best friends Jim Bob and Clara Valentine. The shower scene in the girl's locker room at the beginning of this tale reminded me of all the times growing up that I would have practically handed over bodily organs to be given even a brief glimpse behind that steel curtain. But what made this story really click for me was the relationship between Addy Hanlon and Beth Cassidy, gal pals that dance a relationship tango better left choreographed to the professionals. And proves there's much more to a relationship than what's shown to the public. This tale was about as easy to swallow as cotton candy stuffed with razor blades, and now that I know what's behind the pom-poms I wish I could give it all back, since more knowledge isn't always the key to happiness, as this story aptly proves. Robert Downs Author of Falling Immortality: Casey Holden, Private Investigator
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Absolutely fantastic read.  I loved the characters, I loved the plot, and I loved the writing style.  This is even better than Abbott's last book The End of Everything, which I also enjoyed.  Can't wait to read more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very suspenseful and well written!! Could not put it down!
TaraDGoodyear More than 1 year ago
In Dare Me, Megan Abbott reveals the nasty side of teenage girls and how far they will go to keep their clique hierarchies in check. This book focuses on a cheerleading squad, but for anyone who’s in or has ever been in high school, girl cliques can be a minefield to navigate. Ms. Abbott tells the story of two best friends, the unspoken love and animosity between them, and the underbelly of growing up girl in a teenage world filled with desperation, desire, and obsession. Beth is the head cheerleader and Addy is not only her right hand girl, she’s also her best friend. Best rules with an iron fist, and Addy takes pleasure in both participation and observation of the pain Beth causes others. Then, a new cheer coach is appointed who is young and quick to dethrone Beth from the top of the pyramid. Suddenly, the world doesn’t make sense and Beth will stop at nothing to get back what she’s lost. The question is will Addy stand by and watch or will she pick up where Beth left off? The new cheer coach introduces Addy and the team to life beyond the high school walls they are used to – and Beth cannot compete. Everything Beth has is ripped away in one fell swoop, leaving her desperate and more conniving than ever. Addy’s fascination with the new coach and what “real” life is like leads her down a dangerous road full of deceit, affairs and a questionable suicide. Will she find the answers she craves? How far will Beth go to get back the life Coach stole from her? Will Addy survive the fallout? Grab your copy of Dare Me to find out! Megan Abbott provides a suspenseful, voyeuristic look into the lives of teenage girls and how much they are willing to risk when life as they know it is taken away. Teenage girls behaving badly never looked so good!
YoyoMitch More than 1 year ago
According to the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research, “for High School girls and college women, Cheerleading is far more dangerous than any other sport” (Live Science, 9/11/08). The rate of such injuries more than doubled from 1990 to 2002. For the members of the Cheer Squad captained by Beth Cassidy, there is less chance of being hurt by doing cheer “stunts” than by getting between Beth and Colette French the new Cheerleading coach. Beth “rules the roost” and she will do whatever it takes to assure her position at the top of this Girl Power pyramid. The story is told from the viewpoint of, and narrated by, Addy Hanlon. Beth’s life-long “Lieutenant.” Cheerleading is of such importance to her that name of the high school that exists so these girls can have a Cheerleading squad is inconsequential. Coach French’s appearance offers the possibility of the Squad to move from a bunch of girls who “just shake their a**es,” into a competitive team of athletes. Beth sees the threat to her power immediately. Coach French initially behaves as any professional sport coach would be expected to behave – driven, disciplined, hard-shelled; until many of the members, especially Addy, begin to see the progress they are making. At that point, the coach becomes part coach, part parent, part defiler of youth. All the women who make up this squad are “mean,” no one is exempt from the venom so easily and frequently sprayed and everyone is injured by the atmosphere created by the sport, the gender and, for this team, their leaders.  When a tragic event occurs, Beth is offered the opportunity to regain her place as “owner” of the Cheerleaders. Addy is caught between her loyalty: to her friend, her coach and her team. She is not innocent in any of the events which seem to envelope her, but neither is she party to the subterfuge that sparked those events.  The book shows the writing talent of Ms. Abbott. Her plotting, however, seemed forced and uneven. She does a good job of highlighting the feelings of tension, confusion, anger, angst and isolation experienced by Addy. The world she creates is largely parent free, which is a difficult point to comprehend. Addy and Beth are out all hours of the night, leave home whenever they want yet never are confronted by anyone, particularly someone in authority, for their behavior. They ingest various substances, most illegal (even if they were of age), rarely eat (or retain what they do swallow for more than 30 minutes) but have no ill-effects from such behavior. For athletes in training for the “Big Game” where “the Scout for regionals” will be in attendance, they show little commitment to staying healthy for that event. This undercurrent caused the story to be less believable and (I hope) less plausible.  The last 40 pages are the exception to the problems of the earlier pages. The ending is well done, having drawn the reader in an entirely different direction until The Moment when the curtain is lifted only high enough to see all the actors in the roles they played. 
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Black_Cat_Lover More than 1 year ago
I purchased this because it was on sale and the reviews were pretty good. About half way through I realized it reinforced how immature immature people are. And how uninteresting. Frankly I didn't believe much, if anything, of the characters behavior but I kept reading simply because I found them all so bizarre. And other than the two main "girls" everyone else was a cardboard cutout. Especially all the males. It's an easy and fast read so I didn't waste much time. I think it was about $4. Anything more would be highway robbery.
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melbiddle More than 1 year ago
Stupid!!!!! I read this as part of an online pen pal and both of us agreed that this was a horrible book. It's about a bunch of selfish high school cheerleaders who are supposed to be friends but treat each other like dirt. A new cheer coach joins and just makes it worse. One of the things I didn't understand was where in the world was the parents while these girls are stealing drugs, drinking, sleeping with Army requiters at their school, and just being stupid girls. I truly wish that I had not wasted my money on this filth.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago