Elise is brutally murdered, and all fingers are pointing to Anna. As Anna lives through her stay in prison and the trial, we slowly get to see the wild, "dangerous" life of these girls and how quickly "friends" abandon you when times get tough.
There are two things in life I love: reading and coffee. (OK, I love my family and friends too, but they aren't "things".) And the Kindle (given to me by the Most Amazing Sister EVAH) has been the best thing for reading AND my pocket book (and when we are good to the pocket book, we get the next best thing to more books: MORE COFFEE!). I saw "Dangerous Girls" as one of the Daily Deals and based on a friend's review snapped it up and put it on the Kindle for my next airplane trip.
I love, and I hate this book at the same time. I love that this book made me read it in two sittings and left me staring blankly at the seat in front of me, making me question life and everything I knew. I love that I wanted to strangle characters in the book, so real did they feel. I love that I couldn't bear to put this book down.
But then I HATE THAT ENDING GORRAMMIT. After all that nail-biting suspense, all those dips and twists in the story, and then we find out THAT?!
But I get ahead of myself.
Abigail Haas, you can write. You can write, you can create realistic teenaged characters, you can create the most thrilling suspense all the while never having the characters do anything more exciting than sit down. Really, woman, I am in envy of your craft.
Before this book, I was ready to throw in the towel entirely on the Young Adult genre, especially after tepid (IMO) books likeAntigoddess and Arclight. If Young Adult is going to be merely Girl + Boy A + Boy B + (Genre of the Most Popular YA Book of the Moment), then I don't care, I'm checking out. I don't read books to read the same story, the same characters over and over and over again. I want something different or unique, even if it's just a really, REALLY well-written form of something old.
"Dangerous Girls" stands out. It's raw and gritty (I definitely wouldn't recommend for teens younger than 16, what with the sex, drugs, and alcohol use), but it's clever and REAL. The characters are stunning; Anna isn't a Mary Sue, with zero self-esteem, unable to realize how beautiful she is, and thinking every other female is an enemy (though she does do a bit of slut-shaming to the bully girls). She's a hurting girl, suffering when her mother has cancer, able to build friendships with other females *GASP*, and not afraid to embrace her sexuality *GASP*. Tate isn't a set of good-looking abs; he's a coward, a perfectionist, a flawed miserable human-being who abandons his girlfriend just to save face. Elise isn't the Manic Pixie Dream Girl; she has no qualms about using men to get what she wants (and not caring about their feelings), doesn't appreciate her mother, and is insanely jealous - but she's also the dearest, sweetest friend Anna could ever have. She stands up with Anna in the face of bullies and leaves her elite status behind to be with Anna.
The whole book is a character study, not just of Anna, but of every other person she knows. Her boyfriend, Tate. Elise. The other friends in their circle. Her lawyers. Her father. The media. It's an intense look at how awful people can be. I've been calling it in many ways the "Gone Girl" for Young Adults, because that's what I think of when I read this. These aren't perfect characters; they are realistic, and every one of them is hiding something. Every one of them has messed up and is being selfish and horrible to their fellow human beings.
With so much praise, why do I say I hate this? Well, that pertains to the ending and for that, I'll have to spoiler tag it off. Because trust me, it's a HUGE spoiler - a "Sixth Sense" scale spoiler.
[The last two sections basically reveal that Anna DID kill Elise, that she has literally gotten away with murder. And that kinda left me feeling betrayed...but also confused.
Obviously, Haas was going for unreliable narrator. In places, I could see it, but I felt that it just wasn't strong enough. I hate to compare to the adult "Gone Girl", but it became pretty clear in GG that Nick and Amy had completely different stories. Here, I felt Anna was pretty honest until, in order to deploy a "twist", Haas changed it so that, suddenly, Anna really IS the murderer.
Wouldn't Anna have thought about the murder more? Again, I get unreliable narrator, but there were scenes that just didn't add up to me. And after the roller coaster ride previously, it was a bit of a letdown. (hide spoiler)]
Of course, my opinion is just that: My opinion. I'd love to talk more about the ending, so feel free to comment. I only ask one thing though: please spoiler tag any such comments for other readers!
But even with my feelings about the ending, I can't deny this is a marvelous book. A book that makes me devour it in two sittings, that leaves me with Book Hangover is DEFINITELY a 5 star in my book, even if the ending is "HUH?" I heartily recommend a read and will be checking out more of Haas' works in the future.