I read The Fever and was drawn in to the dark underworld of female adolescence. In this earlier novel, Megan Abbott deftly explores the sexual tensions, hierarchy, and desire for power that undergird female relationships in high school.
This time, Dare Me is about cheer squads. It’s no sassy Bring It On pep rally, either. Rather, it focuses on Addy Hanlon, a second-in-command to cheer captain Beth Cassidy, whose reign of terror has brought her power and glory throughout grade school, JV, and now through their senior year of high school. And then, a new, young coach enters the scene. Colette French is ruthless and unafraid to make a girl cry to get her into impossible physical shape. She reinvigorates the cheer team with new physical routines and a new diet/training regime–and she aims for Beth’s power. Addy, of course, finds herself trapped in the middle–wanting to retain her position as Beth’s second-in-command, yet addicted to the powerful draw of her compelling coach. It’s a dark and twisty story.
All told, I do like The Fever better, but this is still an interesting story about power relationships, especially when you think about it from the “sidekick’s” perspective. Addy is an interesting narrator, and the clique of girls is well-fleshed out. I do have to say, though, every time I see movies/TV shows about teens binge-drinking or read books of this sort, I always think, Where are your PARENTS? I mean, I was not allowed to borrow my parents’ car unless I gave them specifics. And my friends never had parties at their houses. So I read some of these instances about teens sneaking out and taking the car, and I wonder about it. Maybe that’s just me.