Friday, August 10, 2018

Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas

A group of privileged teens go on vacation to Aruba, only to have everything fall to pieces when one of them turns up murdered. The narrator is one of these teens, a girl named Anna, who also happens to be the best friend of the murdered girl. All of them are questioned, but then ordinary questioning takes a sinister and pointed turn, and suddenly Anna and her boyfriend, Tate, find themselves as the prime suspects of the murder. Friendships quickly fragment and fall apart as accusations fly and characters are assassinated, as everyone tries to figure out who did it -

And why.

I'm a sucker for courtroom dramas, so reading this was a real treat because Abigail Haas does not skimp on the tension. The story is told in a very odd format, in bits and pieces, with phone calls, interviews, and other things interspersed with Anna's narrative, which is also divided into past and present POVs that skip all over the place. The jumpy timeline might not work for some readers, because it can get confusing to keep track of all the different timelines, but with a whodunnit like this, it's necessary to keep the reader in the dark until the very end, because, you know, suspense and all that.

I really enjoyed the book and read it quickly even though it's pretty long for YA (almost 400 pages). I thought all the characters were pretty realistically self-absorbed and flawed, and liked that they were "allowed" to sleep around and party and do drugs, because many YA novels are ridiculously puritan and straight-edge, their values more reflecting the 30-40-something-year-olds writing them than the actual teenagers contained inside the novels. These teens felt very realistic and appropriately hormonal, which I appreciated. Anna was a compelling narrator and the reader can't help but get sucked into her plight, whether or not they like her as a person. It's pretty scary to think about what would happen if you got implicated in a murder that you absolutely insist you did not do. Especially in a foreign country where the law is automatically stacked against you, as a non-native.

The only thing that kind of bummed me out was the twist. It wasn't badly done, but I was assured by so many people that it would blow my mind - and it turns out that I'd basically predicted it 30% in. But then, I've read and watched a lot of mysteries, so it's hard to shock me anymore. Maybe if you aren't as jaded by the genre, it will be more of a surprising thrill. Still, I want to reiterate that it wasn't badly done and I appreciated all the clues that were hidden in anticipation of the grand reveal. I won't say any more on that note, but as far as YA thrillers go, this is definitely one of the better examples!

I need to get my hands on DANGEROUS BOYS, now.

4 out of 5 stars

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