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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Dare MeDare Me by Megan Abbott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is my second Megan Abbott, and it won't be my last. There's something about her razor-sharp writing that is so damn compelling and interesting that goes well beyond the subject matter.

I'll be honest. I don't care too much about cheerleaders and cheerleading, but when you mix a near Machiavellian cruelty to the scene, with all the world-weariness of 14 year old girls, and write the living fuck out of it, it becomes mesmerizing.

A lot of people say that Abbott writes Noir, and it is definitely her writing's strength. Sharp lines, stark definitions everywhere, and a deep undercurrent running through the tale. Was it suicide? Was it murder? How is Beth involved? Is the Coach guilty? It's all questions and blinders, and it never sinks into a normal murder mystery. Our narrator Addy so well-crafted that I doubt I'll ever forget her.

Everyone's complex. It's hard not to make a serious connection to Lolita, from the cover of the novel to the layers and layers of personality within Addy and all the versions of Beth and Coach French to which we are treated.

It's a mystery. But it's also the heaviest novel about cheerleading I've ever read.

Indeed, that I ever want to read. The competition is there, of course, but the way all these girls get prepared as if for war, punishing themselves far worse than they punish each other, is just as bad as any of the most intense sports-competition stories I've ever read/watched/or experienced.

The microcosm is damn oppressive. It's easy to imagine transporting these girls to an upscale brothel in the 50's under the complex and caring touch of a well-meaning madam, or cutting off a tit to be that most excellent archer of Amazonian fame for the glory of Diana. *sigh* Disturbing. Glorious.

The fact is, the writing is so damn good that I fell into the story despite myself. It's truly brilliant in that respect, but I still don't care for the actual subject. My Bad!

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