Monday, November 24, 2014

Review: Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas

Title: Dangerous Girls
Author: Abigail Haas
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release date: July 16th 2013
Pages: 388
Genre: Young Adult contemporary mystery
Source: Bought
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...
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I had heard amazing things about Dangerous Girls from so many people. Everyone I know who has read this book had been telling me I absolutely had to read it, that it was one of the best YA murder mysteries out there. And despite these very high expectations, I was not disappointed; it really is one of the best YA mysteries I've read. It's shocking, thrilling, and impossible to put down. I don't even know what to say about the books because it's probably best to go into it knowing nothing more than what the back cover tells you. So in order to make sure I don't spoil anything, this review will minimize plot discussion and maximize fangirling all over the place.

The whole story is captivating. I rarely read during the semester, and when I do, it usually takes me weeks to finish a book. But Dangerous Girls, I read in a day. Really, don't start this book if you have anything important going on anytime soon because you will literally be unable to put this book down. There's just something about Abigail Haas's (aka Abby McDonald's) writing that made me want to keep reading forever. The suspense is ridiculously high throughout, and there were times when I was literally holding my breath along with Anna.

The structure of the triple(-ish) narrative is incredibly well-crafted. Chapters alternate between the friends' vacation, the trial/Anna in prison, and Anna's past before this vacation. Each of these storyines is fascinating; the trial is suspenseful for obvious reasons, and the other two narratives are equally full of tension because they present you with new information about the characters and theories about what might have happened. These storylines are multi-layered and intertwine perfectly; I can't give any more information without spoiling things, but the order in which information is revealed through these storylines is perfect.

Anna is a very complex character. I felt for her throughout the novel; the idea of your best friend dying, and then being accused of murdering her and being held in prison for it sounds absolutely horrifying. Her desperation, and the power of the obsessed investigator, made me question the legal system and its methods; the whole process is so interesting to think about. None of the other characters are as fleshed-out as Anna, but they are definitely strong enough for the reader to develop alliances and to find potential suspects.

And that ending. It usually bothers me when books advertise that an ending is "more shocking than one could ever imagine" because, really, what could be that shocking? Well, Dangerous Girls answered that question for me, because it really was that surprising. I had my theories, but they all turned out to be wrong - I was so shocked at the end that I had to read the last scenes multiple times to actually understand and believe what happened. It's surprising, but it also makes a lot of sense, and the way this resolution is set up is kind of genius. I do wish we had gotten some more information towards the end about how all of it happened, but in a way I also appreciate the shock factor and the way the ending leaves it up to you to figure out how exactly this could have worked.

I don't want to say anything else for fear of spoiling it; this is the kind of book where you're just going to have to trust the people raving about it and read it for yourself to see. Compelling and impossible to put down, Dangerous Girls  is the kind of book that will make you question every detail. It's the best YA mystery I've read in a while, and I can't recommend it enough!


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