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Rainbow Rowell
Fic: Why Fanfiction is Taking Over the World
Lev Grossman, Tiffany Reisz, Rachel Caine, Jen Zern, Heidi Tandy, Rukmini Pande, Samira Nadkarni, Wendy C. Fries, Jolie Fontenot, Randi Flanagan, Tish Beaty, Cyndy Aleo, Christina Lauren, V. Arrow, Brad Bell, Andrew Shaffer, Darren Wershler, Anne Jamison, Jules Wilkinson, R
Dare Me - Megan Abbott Occasionally I feel like no matter how closely I'm reading a book, I'm missing something. It may be due to something in the writing style that's eluding me or an important element in the story that I don't quite understand for some reason, but regardless of what causes it, I feel as if I'm somehow a few steps behind. Sometimes I'll get to the end and still feel like I haven't caught up; it feels like waking up from a dream that I was trying to understand while dreaming it, and it's frustrating. A re-read might clarify things for me, but reading experiences like this don't usually leave me too inclined to want to re-read. It's disappointing, particularly when it was a book I was initially pretty excited about reading.

Megan Abbott's Dare Me was one of those reading experiences for me. It was fast-moving and gripping, but although the story isn't overly complex, I couldn't seem to shake a sense of confusion throughout. That may have been partly because it's centered on a cheerleading team; I'm a nerdgirl and certified non-jock without much interest in sports and their trappings, and the world of cheer is pretty foreign to me. But there was also something stream-of-consciousness in the first-person narration of Abbott's "lieutenant" cheerleader Addy that kept me off-balance and somewhat outside the story. I don't mind not being able to figure out where a story is going; I actually think that's a good thing, generally. However, it does bother me when I feel like I can't make sense out of where it's been.

With its high-school setting and borderline "mean-girl" characters, Dare Me seems to fall into the "YA-crossover" niche, although its darker story elements--adultery, a suspicious death, underage drinking--are most certainly adult. That said, there's not much adult presence here. Parents barely make an appearance in the novel, while the breaching of teacher/student boundaries is central to its plot; it's a disturbing element, and it's probably intended to be.

To be fair, my expectations may have been out of whack; I had the impression that Dare Me would be a little more like Gone Girl, and it's...not. Based on the blogger reviews that piqued my interest in this novel in the first place, I have the feeling that my response to the novel is a minority opinion, but although I was never bored, I just didn't connect with it.