cover image Dare Me

Dare Me

Megan Abbott. Little, Brown/Reagan Arthur, $24.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-316-09777-2

Edgar Award-winner Abbott dives into a gut-churning tale of revenge, power, desire, and friendship in the insular world of high school cheerleading, in her latest (after The End of Everything). Addy Hanlon, 16, has always been second lieutenant, “fidus Achates,” to her best friend Beth, who’s pep squad captain. But when a new coach flippantly removes Beth from power and takes Abby as her confidante, Beth turns vengeful. The new coach transforms the squad, changing it from a costumed clique to a competitive team and earning the cheerleaders’ adulation, but the squad’s development has a darker side: eating disorders, rivalries, cruelty, and the blurring of lines between student and adult. The coach has a darker side, too, and Abby is drawn into her secrets, including a troubled marriage. A shocking turn sends everyone spiraling wildly—and traps Abby in the middle. Abbott’s writing in her sixth novel is deliciously slick and dark, matching her characters’ threatening circumstances, and the plot is tight and intense, building a world in which even the perky flip of a cheerleader’s skirt holds menace. “There’s something dangerous about the boredom of teenage girls,” one character says. Indeed. Agent: Dan Conaway, Writers House. (July)