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38 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars will keep you reading into the night
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...
Published 23 months ago by Laura Kay

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45 of 55 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Just didn't get it
Based on the book description alone, I might have waited for the Kindle version of this book to be available at my library. I bought it based on the reviews...and now, I wish I'd waited. I expected a dark, quirky thriller about a cheerleading squad gone haywire. What I got was a story of one cheerleader (Addy) who's spent years as a subservient follower of her cheer...
Published 23 months ago by melissa


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38 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars will keep you reading into the night, July 31, 2012
This review is from: Dare Me: A Novel (Hardcover)
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!
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45 of 55 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Just didn't get it, August 13, 2012
By 
melissa (west mifflin, pa, United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Dare Me: A Novel (Kindle Edition)
Based on the book description alone, I might have waited for the Kindle version of this book to be available at my library. I bought it based on the reviews...and now, I wish I'd waited. I expected a dark, quirky thriller about a cheerleading squad gone haywire. What I got was a story of one cheerleader (Addy) who's spent years as a subservient follower of her cheer captain and "best friend" Beth. Beth is mean, spiteful, and so completely unlikeable that I wanted to light the book (er, Kindle) on fire just to eliminate her from this world. As to why Addy remains so very loyal to her - perhaps that's supposed to be the mystery of the novel. If so, I never figured it out. The other characters, if not necessarily unlikeable, are just uninteresting altogether. The stunning twist of a murder was not twisty and did not stun me. And the writing - I suppose it was good. But. Every chapter, every section within chapters, ended with a seemingly profound statement that I just did not get. And 500 hyphenated adjectives later ("blister-white tennis shoes", "dusty-shouldered geometry teachers and crepy-skinned guidance counselors), it kind of got on my nerves. Really, I just wanted it to end.
I finished it, because it was decent enough that I didn't light my Kindle on fire after all. And I could tolerate it enough to find out how it ended, because, I guess I did want to know how it ended. I'm not saying don't read it. I am saying, wait till you can read it for free.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Like, tots overrated, September 21, 2012
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This review is from: Dare Me: A Novel (Kindle Edition)
I read glowing words about this book in a number of publications but didn't bother to read the reviews on Amazon. In retrospect I wish I had. I would really like to talk to someone who liked this book and ask them "Why?!?". Was it the dialogue? The plot? The characters? Was it the knowledgeable description of cheerleading stunts? If you enjoy underdeveloped caricatures of machiavellian teenagers and a paper-thin "mystery", this just may be the book for you.
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18 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A TAUT PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER, July 31, 2012
This review is from: Dare Me: A Novel (Hardcover)
Dark, dangerous, innocent, erotic, completely addictive reading as Edgar winner Megan Abbott takes us into the exclusive world of high school cheerleaders. These girls are adolescents, yes, but are told they have the hearts of warriors. Scars and bruises are signs of achievement, and a wanton flip of their skirts signals trouble. For them cheer is not simply an extra curricular activity, it is life As one girl puts it, "God, it must be terrible not to be on cheer. How would you know what to do?"

Beth has been the unchallenged captain of the cheerleaders squad barking orders in a rough voice and ridiculing those who can't comply. Addy, her best friend, has been her lieutenant always following in Beth's wake, never questioning. The girls text each other late into the night bonding, telling secrets and desires.

All of this changes when a new coach, Colette French, arrives. She's in command and going to turn the squad into a regional winner. They'll build up their strength, master stunts they would never have dared - pyramids that send the top girl flying into the air. All the girls save for Beth fall under coach's spell, sharing dreams, experiences, too much wine. Addy is coach's favorite, the one in whom she chooses to confide.

While the squad is being transformed into a top team Beth is on the outside, jealous, vengeful. However, all is not golden as the girls would have it appear - intense rivalries develop, eating disorders plague some, insecurities blossom along with their talent.

Then suddenly just before the important game there is a mysterious death that affects the coach and her girls. Addy finds herself caught between belief, loyalty and conscience.

Abbott has spun one more astute, compelling tale, a taut psychological thriller that reveals the troubled, questing minds of young girls.

- Gail Cooke
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Splendid School Story, August 18, 2012
By 
Bill Kupersmith (Iowa City, IA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dare Me: A Novel (Kindle Edition)
If you have read some of my other reviews, you might know that I am addicted to stories set in schools and universities, and in the past year I have been very fortunate to have read some stunners, especially Donna Tartt's The Secret History, Tana French's The Likeness, and amongst school stories, Patrick Gale's Friendly Fire. In one of these Amazon reviews I declared that the best school stories have to be set in boarding schools. But now I'll eat crow. Dare Me is a superb school story. American public school students when they are like the Sutton Grove cheer squad yield nothing to English "Public School" students or American preppies.

Because lots of other reviewers have discussed the setting and characters in Dare Me, I'll focus on the principal characters' relationships. When I was about half way through my initial reading, I would have described Beth as a Number One Mean Girl, who seeks revenge on the new coach for depriving Beth of the captaincy of the cheer squad, I might have predicted that Beth might grow up to be the heroine of a Gillian Flynn novel. After two readings I find that version still plausible but superficial. Beth is a much more complex, and indeed, tragic figure. Like all good tragedies, in Dare Me the Fates bring together characters with extraordinary personal qualities whose mistakes lead to their downfall.

The principal tragic actors are Beth Cassidy the cheer captain and her antagonist, Colette French the cheer coach, but our sole narrator is another cheerleader, Beth's BF and `lieutenant" Addy. Megan Abbott uses the first person point of view brilliantly to envelop her story in mystery and ambiguity. We observe only what Addy witnesses and thinks, but she relies for much of her knowledge on Beth and Coach, both of whom are consummate liars. And Addy's testimony is unreliable as well. "I remember what I choose to remember," she tells us at one point. Much of Addy's recent history with Beth is something Addy keeps deliberately murky, especially her relationship the previous summer at cheer camp with Casey Jaye, a cheerleader from another school who encouraged Addy to break free of Beth's influence. Even before Addy becomes attracted to Coach, Beth had good reason to fear her hold was slipping. And gradually the reader becomes aware that whilst Beth has always been the dominant partner to Addy, it is Beth who is most committed to their relationship, and as is well known to marriage counselors and experts on relationships, it is the partner who is least committed who determines what kind of relationship it is and whether it lasts.

Addy has been Beth's BFF since second grade, and as Addy matures she ought to develop other friendships, especially with an adult like Coach. Unfortunately Coach herself is anything but mature. Although we are told in passing that she had coached another squad, Coach makes blunders typical of a neophyte. Knowing nothing of the previous history of the cheer squad, Coach abolishes the captaincy, although given the lackadaisical leadership of the previous coach, it is only thanks to Beth that she has a squad with any hopes to go to the regionals. Even worse, she substitutes a new flyer for Beth, a girl who lacks Beth's skill to execute a difficult stunt.

As in Patrick Gale's Friendly Fire, teachers who violate boundaries and become too involved with their students often fall prey to a special Nemesis. (Some of us who have been teachers remember just what it was like to feel her hot breath on the back of our necks!) Pathetically, Coach finds herself relying on Addy to cover her back when things go terribly wrong.

Beth's real character and motivations remain mysterious. Her devotion to cheerleading excellence (Homer would have termed it arete) and to Addy are very attractive. She seems to have taken her motto from a World War II Japanese pilot, "I will die only for you above all." And her final words to Addy are "It was always you." Knowing what she meant by these would tell us a lot about who Beth was.

So instead of finding Beth a Mean Girl, I read her as a tragic hero, surely flawed but also gleaming and splendid.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A deliciously dark page-turner, July 30, 2012
This review is from: Dare Me: A Novel (Hardcover)
Abbott has written a tremendously interesting book about cheerleading: its social aspects, power struggles & rampant single-minded ambition. And really, that would be enough for me. But DARE ME is also a wildly entertaining, gripping, twisted page-turner. As good a summer book as I've read this year-- the year of fantastic summer reads!
Highly recommend.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Eh.., March 21, 2013
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This review is from: Dare Me: A Novel (Kindle Edition)
Not good at all in my opinion. I had to force myself to finish it. Wish I didn't even bother.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Cheer Bully Rules the School?!, December 27, 2012
By 
Maria "beaglebz" (Sleepy Hollow, NY) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dare Me: A Novel (Hardcover)
I was very disappointed with this book. The characters were beleivable to an extent with their higher than mighty attitudes, bullying, & manipulation. However, what teacher, coach, etc, have sex IN SCHOOL? Let a brat like Beth rule the school? High School is not easy & this book just seems to capitalize on that fact. Yes, kids/teenagers, people in general, can be & are mean. Some are downright manipulative & vindictive. In our current climate, teachers indiscretions, well downright stupidity, are splattered all over the news as well as victims of bullying. This book is a dose of harsh reality mixed with fiction.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not a fan., December 4, 2012
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This review is from: Dare Me: A Novel (Hardcover)
I wasn't a fan. For one, I just didn't care about the characters. It seems written by one who wishes she had been a cheerleader and a part of the "in crowd" in high school and this book is her imagining what it would be like with some psychotic women. The book was depressing and I couldn't finish it. After reading half of it, I scanned through the ending. I'm glad I didn't force my way through it. People have compared it to "Gone Girl". Save your time and money and just read that instead.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dark and disturbing, but not in the goooood Gillian Flynn way, September 8, 2012
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This review is from: Dare Me: A Novel (Kindle Edition)
Disturbing, but not in the "oh, how clever I totally get the point of this" sort of way. I couldn't wait to finish, mainly because I found myself viscerally reacting to these characters...and it just made me feel sad and icky, which I will now call sicky. I can handle one or the other of those feelings, but not both at the same time. It also felt incongruent to me that the narrator (Addy) would have poignant insights (via Megan Abbott obviously) because the character herself in action was blindingly naive. It was a relief to finish this one, and put it far behind me.
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Dare Me: A Novel
Dare Me: A Novel by Megan E. Abbott (Hardcover - July 31, 2012)
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