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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A cracking good read
At the heart of this novel is the relationship between teenagers Beth and Addy, a friendship which goes back to their childhood; Beth, manipulative and often cruel, has always been the leader with Addy her willing shadow. A new Coach arrives, throwing a spanner in the works, and very soon she and Beth engage in a battle of wills; Addy adores Coach and is the eager puppy...
Published on 2 April 2012 by Jood

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Strangely Compelling Read
This book is a little strange to say the least. It seems that the cheerleading girls in the story literally only live for that part of their school schedule. Everything they do revolves around that, and their coach seems to harbour no sense of responsibility for her teenage charges. They reach greater and greater success by involving themselves in, frankly, dangerous...
Published on 23 Aug 2012 by H. Pierce


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A cracking good read, 2 April 2012
By 
Jood (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dare Me (Hardcover)
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At the heart of this novel is the relationship between teenagers Beth and Addy, a friendship which goes back to their childhood; Beth, manipulative and often cruel, has always been the leader with Addy her willing shadow. A new Coach arrives, throwing a spanner in the works, and very soon she and Beth engage in a battle of wills; Addy adores Coach and is the eager puppy always willing to do her bidding, which in turn fuels Beth's jealousy; whilst the other team members gather at Coach's house for drinking sessions, Beth is nowhere to be seen, but always watching, waiting for her moment. The girls are pushed to physical and psychological extremes as they vie for the best postion on the team. Injury is just one wobble away. Then one dark night Addy is drawn into a nightmare......

Megan Abbot perfectly captures teenage girls' adolescent-speak, and attitudes; at times it's faintly amusing, at others dark and sinister. The novel is packed with detail about cheerleading, still very much an American activity, to the puzzlement of us Brits, and my only criticism is that perhaps there is a little too much detail which could have been pared down with no detriment to the storyline.

I chose this book on the strength of an earlier novel of Megan Abbot's: "The End of Everything" which I enjoyed very much. I enjoyed this just as much, with dialogue that snaps, crackles and pops with energy, and characters, though not particularly likeable, are wholly believable. All in all a cracking good read.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An edgy and unsettling look at female adolescence, 26 Mar 2012
By 
Roman Clodia (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dare Me (Hardcover)
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Like Megan Abbott's The End of Everything, this is another dark and unsettling read centred on the edgy instability of female adolescence.

Our narrator, Addy, is sixteen and is one of the high school's sassy cheer-leading team, along with her best friend Beth. A new female coach arrives and disturbs the status quo, soon inviting the team to her house where they drink, obsess over her and misunderstand her relationship with her quiet, seemingly dull husband. Only Beth refuses to succumb to Coach French's charms, and takes it upon herself to reveal what only she can see...

I loved this book which is more subtle and nuanced than The End of Everything. There's a dangerous edge to everything that happens but it's subliminal and oblique rather than obvious. Abbott is particularly good at charting the shifting tides of power and powerlessness, knowledge and innocence in these girls, as they experience an adult world which they think they understand but which overwhelms them.

The world of cheer-leading is an alien one to UK readers and it takes a bit of time for us to catch-up, but it fits well with the overall atmosphere of danger and unease as the girls push themselves physically and psychologically towards a kind of perfection. The hints of anorexia, dysmorphia, competition and physical danger blend well with the unsettling depiction of nascent sexuality.

So overall this is a gripping and atmospheric read with some important things to say about the modern female psyche - highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dare to reveal, 15 Jan 2013
By 
Michael Watson "skirrow22" (Halifax, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dare Me (Hardcover)
I didn't think I would enjoy a book about cheerleading, something which might, in real life, briefly stimulate the enjoyment pulses but then is all forgotten as the girls troop off.

But I read this book at one sitting so it's an easy read. But the content is not so easy. From small acorns in the form of the arrival of a new Coach to the grown oak in the form of a dead body in an apartment block. In between, whilst the story develops is a power struggle filled with the rivalries of teenage girls, raw emotions not fully developed but mature enough to do adult things and, at the same time, try to create the best Cheer Team ever.

I must say I enjoyed this book. I enjoyed the way the story unfolds. I couldn't understand a word concerning the cheer team's routine but, somehow, this didn't matter. In all honesty, I skipped a few pages of such routines just to maintain my grip on the underlying investigation as seen through the eyes of a sixteen year old Addy Hanlon. (I'd also forgotten that in some US States, sixteen year olds are allowed to drive a car!) The book is clever in its progression, in its development of the relationships and jealousies between the girls and their Coach.

As with all good investigations, there is a nice twist in the story; one which probably could be expected if I hadn't been rattling along with the read but perhaps this made it the more enjoyable. The blurb snapshots do not do justice to this book. Had I read them before buying the book, I would have changed my mind. As it is, I'm glad it was recommended to me on the basis of a darn good story. It is and I shall look for more Megan Abbott, though no more Cheer, pleeeese.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Strangely Compelling Read, 23 Aug 2012
By 
H. Pierce (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dare Me (Hardcover)
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This book is a little strange to say the least. It seems that the cheerleading girls in the story literally only live for that part of their school schedule. Everything they do revolves around that, and their coach seems to harbour no sense of responsibility for her teenage charges. They reach greater and greater success by involving themselves in, frankly, dangerous pastimes, with their coach often right alongside them.

The story has hints towards eating disorders, and towards bullying. These are not new themes amongst characters of the age told here, but they are nonetheless areas which need to be carefully considered before being used. Especially true when you consider the age group this is aimed at. There is, and never should there be, anything glamorous about damaging your body through disordered eating habits and it did disturb me slightly that this book is written with the same lack of responsibility as many of the main characters seem to have.

Having said that, human nature can be ugly and beautiful, all at the same time. Teenage girls are no exception to this rule. Megan Abbot portrays the darker side of life quite well in her tale. This is what makes for quite a gripping read, despite the fact that when you break down the actual story there is not much substance to it.

Overall, I would say that this book is good for an exploration of teenage nastiness, and darkness. It is very readable too. It is not, however, a great psychological thriller. The ending is weak, and unrealistic. That is my opinion. I hope you enjoy it more than I did.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very little to distinguish it, 5 Mar 2013
By 
R. Lyons (Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dare Me (Kindle Edition)
I found this on a blog-post listing 2012's best crime thrillers/murder mysteries and so was looking forward to a page-turning head-scratcher. Instead, I read out of puzzlement, rather than a sense of dying-to-see-what-happens next.

Very few of the characters are easy to warm to. That in itself can be an author choice obviously. But then you're left relying on other aspects, such as the realism of the setting or the plot. Being neither American, female nor a teenager, I found it quite tough to tell how realistic I was supposed to find the whole High School cheerleader setting (most of the girls apparently eat nothing substantial for weeks on end, while there is no parental supervision at all). Without any strong tie to the characters or a setting I could warm to, I was relying thus on the plot. But, to be honest, the plot is incredibly thin. There are very few twists or turns and the book sort of limps to a close.

Reading this was certainly not my worst mistake, and I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who will like it, but what I took from it is that Megan Abbott is not for me.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hard read, 10 Jan 2013
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This review is from: Dare Me (Kindle Edition)
I read so many good reviews about this book, but I found it quite a difficult read. It's very 'bitty', and doesn't flow particularly well. It's not an easy story to follow, lots of moments where you have to make your own interpretations. Also, if you don't know anything about cheerleading, you may be doing a fair amount of googling whilst reading. It's not a book I would pass on to a friend to read, but that's just my opinion.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark, disturbing, completely compelling, 23 Aug 2012
By 
Love Books "Jessie" (Durham, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dare Me (Hardcover)
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I read Megan Abbott's The End of Everything last year and was stunned by the quality of the writing and the brilliant way Abbot gets into the minds of adolescent girls. I didn't think that book could be bettered, but if anything Dare Me is even more brilliant.

The story concerns Addy Hanlon who's sixteen and lieutenant to cheerleading captain and master manipulator Beth. Beth is used to getting her own way and when a new coach comes along who apparently sees right through her, the status quo of the whole squad is unbalanced. But coach is not as clever as she first seems and lets the girls see too much of her life, her relationship with her husband and her friendship with the handsome yet damaged army recruitment officer.

What follows is a tense, edge-of-the-seat power struggle between Beth and Coach, with Addy trying to keep up with both of them and work out what's happening, who's right and who's wrong, and who she should trust. It's a brilliantly gripping story that had me literally desperate to get home from work to read more. And as a bonus, the writing is just exquisite. A lot of the cheerleading terms will be unfamiliar to UK readers but the way Abbott describes the human body in action, the bliss of attaining physical fitness and being able to use the body to its best ability, and the simultaneous cruelty and vulnerability of teenage girls is, in my opinion, second to none.

Highly recommended, but not for younger readers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 18 April 2014
By 
Ben "candlemasbear" (Redditch, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dare Me (Hardcover)
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I guess my expectations were raised by the very positive reviews this had been given by other authors and its inclusion in the CWA Dagger Awards but I have to say I was very disappointed.

To begin with the setting (girl's school) and the theme of teen angst has been overdone in my opinion. You have to have written something as truly brilliant and original as Eleanor Catton's The Rehearsal to hold my attention in this area now.

In the second place, I found the style a little too economical - I would describe it as clipped. It is probably an American trait to remove joining words from sentences, that I accept (with gritted teeth), but there was so much compression that I found myself finding it hard to read because it felt wrong to my ears.

I can't comment on the plot because (to my shame) I did not complete the novel. It is rare that this happens which I suppose is the best comment I can make upon my experience of this book.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark, edgy and compelling, 9 April 2012
By 
Brida "izumi" (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dare Me (Hardcover)
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This is the second novel by Abbott that I have read. In many ways it is similar to her previous book, THE END OF EVERYTHING, but there are important differences. Once again, Abbott examines the darkness that can lie in the hearts of female adolescents. However, DARE ME feels more sustantial than THE END OF EVERYTHING.

The story follows sixteen-yesr-old Addy Hanlon and her cheerleading friends. Of all the girls on the squad, Beth is her closest friend. At the very beginning of the book, the cheerleading squad have a new coach, Coach French. It is upon her arrival that everything seems to change. She pushed them further, makes them aim higher, but it is her budding 'friendship' with Addy that really sets things into motion.

That is all of the synopsis I will give away. DARE ME is a novel which has many layers to it. Ultimately, it is the examination of adolescent sexuality, friendship, obsession and loyalty which binds this novel all together. Abbott uses cheerleading as a backdrop to Addy's, providing a metaphor for how the girls view themselves, each other and the world around them. The result is a dark, edgy book which is, in some ways, more subtle than THE END OF EVERYTHING, but perhaps more developed and engaging.

I would definitely recommend this novel. If you like dark and compelling literature, then this is for you.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unputdownable!!, 24 Jun 2013
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S2b an OAP "worzelrummage" (East Anglia, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dare Me (Hardcover)
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Megan Abbott had me hooked on page 1 - and that was the Prologue. An excellent book pulling readers into the spiders web of.....cheer leading! OK, I know that may put some of you off but please don't be because the book is actually about so much more. The human spirit, love, sex, lust, jealousy, suicidal tendencies, self image, experimentation and intrigue. I found myself empathising with some of the characters and truly 'hating' others - that is something difficult to achieve and not often found in novels these days - usually because the writer pays less attention to some of the 'bit part' characters - but not in this book.

Excellent holiday or everyday reading and an author I will now watch out for.
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