March 17, 2014

Review: Dangerous Girls

By: Abigail Haas (Abby McDonald)
Published: July 2013 by Simon Pulse
Format: Hardback, 388 pages
Buy: Barnes & Noble//Books-A-Million//Amazon//Book Depository
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Spring break. Aruba. It's supposed to be the best time of Anna's life. Perfect.

It's Spring Break of senior year. Anna, her boyfriend Tate, her best friend Elise, and a few other close friends are off to a debaucherous trip to Aruba that promises to be the time of their lives. But when Elise is found brutally murdered, Anna finds herself trapped in a country not her own, fighting against vile and contemptuous accusations.

As Anna sets out to find her friend's killer; she discovers hard truths about her friendships, the slippery nature of truth, and the ache of young love.

As she awaits the judge's decree, it becomes clear that everyone around her thinks she is not just guilty, but dangerous. When the truth comes out, it is more shocking than one could ever imagine...

Rating: 4.5/5


That's was my first thought after finishing this book. My only thought for nearly twenty-four hours.


Somehow void of emotion and full of it at the same time. I can't even. Let me attempt my thoughts. Pardon me if I'm all over the place.

At 8:30 in the evening, I was readying for bed, cuddling under the covers and propping up my pillows like I do every night. Dangerous Girls set by my bedside, unopened and ready for me to dive in. I thought I'd read a couple of chapters and then go to sleep--saying I was exhausted would be an understatement--but let me tell you: My eyes stayed wide awake for another two and a half hours until I finished the whole damn thing. That has not happened in a long, long, long time.

In the beginning, I'll admit I was weary. I enjoyed the opening, as it got me into the emotion quickly, but the initial chapters following were a bit wobbly. I'm never a huge fan of party scenes or introductions of several characters in the amount of ten seconds; it usually turns me off. But once I got through the first couple chapters (very short, in case you're wondering), I was hooked. Completely and utterly hooked.

Haas has a fantastic flow to her writing that makes the story incredibly readable. Despite the fact that no one bothered to tell her that actions are not dialogue tags. (I seriously wanted to punch a few holes in the wall every time I spotted one of those foul mistakes. Christ.) Anyway. Haas spun this story in such a way that I couldn't keep the wheels from turning in my head. She literally twisted all my thoughts into one giant ball, unraveled them, and then tied them up again.

Now, Anna. Our unreliable narrator. Flawed and untrustworthy. And I loved that. I loved that she was created not to be fully likable. Frankly, I didn't like her at all. She was selfish and possessive, and so was everyone else. I loved it. Haas was brave to create a cast of characters in which pretty much all of them were unlikable. While I think there were far too many of them that never seemed to develop past a name and general description, the relationships between Anna and the main characters around her were quite complex and intriguing and interesting, gritty and confusing.

Once I finished the book, I immediately ran through the relationships between Anna/Elise and Anna/Tate, running back and forth over the possibilities and what each word and action meant between them. Her relationship with Elise--whom I've renamed as Elsie because I'm slightly dyslexic and once I mix a word around, I can't change it; it made the nickname "Lise" a bit awkward--was so twisted I still can't make up my mind about what was going on with them. It's the part of the book that truly made the story to me.

This book. How to describe this book. It was...unreal. Throughout we're thrown between before and the present, something that kept me engrossed and thinking. I liked how Haas didn't give us the full details of anything really, though I truly, truly wished for a bit more development with the characters. I think if the supporting cast were more quaint and three-dimensional, that would have made the confusion over what happened and who killed Elise even more dark and twisted.

I was fascinated by the trials. I always love to watch shows covering trials and murder stories. I swear I'm not some crazed serial killer. I swear, I swear. Only thoroughly intrigued. Haas did incredible setting this story up, obviously pulling things from true stories, and showing just how quickly and easily a person can be made to look guilty (or innocent; works both ways). How one picture, one sentence, one gesture can be manipulated to look a certain way. It definitely made me think twice about what I see, read, and think about someone or something.

Now. The ending.

The. Ending.

I still have no idea what I think. On one hand, I hated it. It was expected, wasn't it? Almost like the easy way out. I think Haas could have made it even more shocking by giving more of Anna's thoughts on the murder. Maybe. Or maybe I just wanted a bit more of her thoughts at the end, when she's standing at the grave. Or maybe not. Arghhh, you see my confusion?!

Though that last scene literally had my stomach crawling. Crawling. I just shivered thinking about it. I shut the book and sat there for a moment, and then I flipped through the last several pages and read them again, in disbelief. Ughhhhhh. Ugh ugh ugh. What.

Really, that's all this review boils down to, as I hardly formed my thoughts well. To keep it simple: Read it. It's such a breathe of fresh, gritty air in YA. Something different, that doesn't hold back. This is one of the few YA mysteries I've read that keep me thinking from start to finish, and this story will stay with me for a very long time.


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