Is it possible to take the gritty world of noir novels and combine that the perceived fluffy world of cheerleaders?
It is, if you’re Megan Abbott.
Addy has always been head cheerleader Beth Cassidy’s second in command and best friend. But all the changes when a new cheer coach shows up–one who demands more of the girls than just shaking pom-poms and inciting the crowd at athletic contests. The new coach wants to take this team to the next level and it doesn’t matter how many stair runs, twisted ankles and shattered egos are left in the wake.
Addy soon finds herself at the center of an emotional tug of war between the new coach and Beth. Beth isn’t used to being the center of attention and when the coach takes this away from her–first in terms of not having a captain for the team and later by taking away the attention of the ROTC representative at their local school, Beth begins to plot her revenge on the teacher. Abby is caught in the crossfire between the two, knowing enough damaging material on both parties to be a powerful pawn in their ever escalating game.
Just when you think there’s nothing new in the mystery and noir field, along comes Abbott to challenge that perception. Is Dare Me a perfect novel? No, it’s not. But I defy you to have more fun with a blending of genres this year than is on display here. Abbott’s economy of language pays off in spades throughout the novel as Addy volunteers just enough information to keep the plot moving forward without giving away the final end game of the novel or allowing you to predict exactly where things will go next.
On the surface, most of the characters would seem to have a perfect life. But dig a little deeper into this over too soon story and you’ll see as much corruption, heart-ache and hurt as you would in any story featuring a hard-boiled detective and his femme fatale. At times, Abbott’s use of language left me with a strong sense of admiration and a desire to highlight and re-read certain paragraphs again just to appreciate what she’s doing with language. Of course, that desire is also in conflict with the one to turn the page and find out what happens next and what secret will come out next.
The novel will also give you a deeper appreciation of what cheerleaders do and show that despite the perception, they are athletes and work just as hard if not harder than the more traditional athletes.
Cheerleaders plus noir….who’d’ve figured it would be this good?