Posts Tagged ‘Dare Me’

‘Dare Me’ by Megan Abbott – Raucous Relentless High School Cheerleaders

‘Dare Me’ by Megan Abbott    (2012) – 290 pages


Megan Abbott had fallen under my radar until now.   It is not too surprising that a novel about a girls’ high school cheerleading team would fall under my radar.  What I didn’t realize is that this isn’t young adult fiction by any stretch of the imagination.  This is brutal noir crime fiction.

‘There’s something dangerous about the boredom of teenage girls.’ 

 Usually I will read an author’s current work to review in order to be as up-to-date as possible.  However, after researching the crime fiction writer Megan Abbott, I decided to read her quintessential novel ‘Dare Me’ first rather than her newest one ‘The Fever’.

What does a hard-boiled murder mystery novel involving high school cheerleaders sound like?  “‘Give us some handsprings, bitches!’, Beth’s voice boomed at us.”  Beth was the captain of the cheerleading team until the new adult coach Colette French arrives and decides there isn’t going to be a squad captain anymore.  Since Beth had always been the captain of everything since grade school, the coach’s decision does not sit too well with her.  To say the least.

I know absolutely nothing about the cheerleading world, but I am quite sure that Megan Abbott nailed it in ‘Dare Me’   Abbott writes with an unforgettable visceral intensity that makes the self-contained world of the cheerleading team come alive.    The incessant texting, the black market in Adderall,  the taking it to the next level all ring true.

“Twice last week she didn’t call for our late-night recap, our laying forth of the maneuvers of the day, who humiliated herself, whose bra is tatty, and whose fat ass is fatting up the whole squad.  We’d done these calls nightly since forever.”  

 56006_320 This is Addy speaking, Beth’s best friend and aide-de-camp until she becomes enamored of the new coach.  She is the voice of ‘Dare Me’ and in a position to understand both Beth and the new coach as well as be present as the cheerleaders practice and perform.  When a sinister suicide occurs, she is there to help us figure it out.

I expect that many female readers are familiar with Megan Abbott, but how do you sell a novel about high school cheerleaders to men?  Some reviewers have called it ‘Fight Club for girls’.



Queenpin_000At some near point Abbott will cross over into male readership, because her crime writing is so vivid and true-to-life.  It is made for the movies.  They are planning a movie of ‘Dare Me’ possibly starring Natalie Portman.

I notice that Megan Abbott has written several novels before, and they all have lurid covers just like the old noir novels of the 1950s and 1960s.





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