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.
©2012 Megan Abbott (P)2012 Hachette Audio
Mutually assured destruction
The secret history by Donna Tarrt due to the intensity of the relationships; the adult/ teen interplay & the dark undercurrent. Several of the Nicci French novels have similar themes of the perils of self/ other confusion.
The reader delivered the teenage voice with credibility & maimtained my interest in some of the details of Cheering, not a subject matter which initially engaged me.
Addy remains memorable for prevailing in the midst of the self destruction of Beth, Will & Coach. Beth was right, Addy was always the strong one.
For the first couple of chapters, i thought i had erred in buying a YA listen but after that this 50 something year old was fully engaged with the characters & their motivations while a vivid mind movie of their athletic feats was running throughout.The author managed to evoke memories of my own high school humiliations & gratitude that those memories now have the benefit of life experience.
Evocative, startling voice
Wonderful writing from Megan Abbott. This woman really knows how to not only plot a taut story arc but also how to evoke compelling 3-D characters & craft precise, vivid, crackling prose. (Re. performance: I do so wish our narrators would stop making adolescent girls sound like munchkins. That said, this book's audio-narrator does give a *far* more nuanced performance than the audio-narrator of Abbott's The End of Everything, who basically ruins the latter book. Sad.)
Elderly (1932), retired university professor, degrees in engineering and economics.
As other reviewers have noted, this is a poignant coming-of-age novel. Also there are elements of mystery and suspense. It should appeal to readers of all ages, especially YA readers. I recommend it highly.
The book also provokes questions about people who are already grown-up. Where are the adults in the lives of Addy, Beth and their Cheer Squad? Why are young girls assuming (correctly) that they can get in their cars at all hours and not be in trouble with, not even be missed by, their parents. Is Coach Colette ever concerned about the very real, potentially life threatening, danger in some of the routines she allows these kids to train for? Sharing alcohol and cigarettes with her students is not appropriate, but involving her student in her extramarital affair is totally unacceptable. Coach needs an adult in her life.
Abbott reminds us that beneath the bravado, the trash talk, the sexual experimentation, there is usually a fragile child trying to make it through some tough years. What is left when both the parents and the in loco parentis are missing.
The writing and the narration are excellent. The cover is extraordinary.
It was witty in a very Snarky way. It was not childish soap opera in my opinion, but twisted, sarcastic, and humorous at times. It is not Shakespeare, but is amusing and entertaining.
This book is definitely for the YA crowd. Good story and well written for teens. If you want to remember the intensity of every little incident in high school, this book captures those feelings perfectly. I would give it to my teen cousins and nieces, but if you're over 21, I would not recommend it.
The main character of this book was so dark for a teenage girl. That made it an extremly interesting read.
Following through the story and trying to figure out who were the bad guys and who were the good guys, would have to be my favorite part.
I can not pick one, I really enjoyed each of the different little plots that took place.
Well Addy would be the obvious choice as she is telling the story although I do believe Beth was actually my favorite.
Great read if you enjoy dark mysteries and girly type books.
You can't help but compare this to a cheerleader movie. Except that what made "Bring it on" one of those movies that was so bad, it was good, was the humor in it. Well, take some similarly vain and self involved teenagers, throw in a little mystery and take out all the humor, plus add a sprinkling of sexually confused teen angst - and voila! You got "Dare me"
It's not that it was bad exactly, it was just hard to get involved and care about the characters. Half the time you want to smack some sense in to them while groaning in exasperation, and the other half they are just boring cardboard cutouts who do predictably stupid things.
I suppose it will do as a summer read for the beach, but lack of substance was a turn-off for me.
First... I liked it. Megan Abbott knows how to make you perfectly uncomfortable with her portrayals of teen angst and pubescent melodrama. The power struggles between the egotistic girls were well thought out. The narrator was good except her portrayal of Beth was a little too "mean girl" for me. The story did keep you guessing. It felt like it could have worked better in a screenplay. I also would have liked a better focus on Addy's takeaway from all of it. All in all -good!
It feels like a lot of waiting for something to happen. Halfway through, I still wasn't sure what the plot actually was. Something about the book, and most of the characters, felt hollow.
Khristine Hvam is always great. (Although is it just me, or did her voice for Beth sound a lot like Romy from Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion?)
Freelance theatrical designer in Chicago - listening to books while I paint has become my new favorite hobby!
I did not expect to be so thoroughly engrossed in a book about cheerleaders, but I found myself constantly invested in what would happen next to Addy and Beth. Caught up in what many would consider the toxic environment of adolescent cheerleading - popularity contests, eating disorders, a strong desire to be desired - Addy is the "everyman" of teenage girls and while the older, responsible side of me wants to see her safe in bed at 9pm, it is impossible to not become swept up in the drama of her life.
When a new, young, flashy coach comes to town, the tribe of cheerleaders experience a major upheaval in their ranks and all they had come to understand as normal. Beth, the dangerous but irresistible team captain, struggles to hold onto the old ways while Coach Colette French ushers in a brave new world filled with demons of her own. It's a power struggle of the first degree and Addy is stuck in the middle. Equal parts heightened teen drama and high-stakes intrigue, this book will keep you captivated until the final page (minute).
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