Weird. Twisted. Insane. This book literally started my year with that needed bang. This is the book that I was expecting to start my year and oh boy, this book did not disappoint. I remember hearing about this book numerous times sometime last year though I am not sure if it was from Booktube or some blog posts that I read and I remember them how this book was described as twisted and surprising. So I added this book on my priority list to read this year and eventually decided to start my year with it. And yes, I got more than what I expected.
“..the truth is, we made each other, like we learned about in science class. Symbiosis.”
― Abigail Haas, Dangerous Girls
Anna is this shy girl who’s hurting with the death of her mother and is now having to adjust to a new environment at her new school. Then there’s Elise who elicits all the qualities of a young girl who embraces life head-on. A bullying incident at school made them so close to each other. They considered each other more like sisters than friends. They found each other’s comfort zones bring out the best and worst of each. The book follows the story of Anna as she try to prove herself not guilty of killing Elise. But how did it lead to it? It’s the spring break of their senior year. It started as a plan for the two and their friends to relax before they head off to college. They found themselves in Aruba. A place where for them to relax. A place for them to enjoy. A place for them to forget the stress of home and their personal lives. A week-long filled with booze, parties and fun. Until a crime was committed and Elise was murdered. She was found at their vacation house stabbed thirteen times. Trapped in a foreign land, what they were expecting as a vacation became a nightmare for everyone. Things turned to worse for Anna as everyone from all their friends were cleared and she was the only one that was left to face the trial because of the supposed to be evidences and testimonies against her. Money, power and influence was put in play. Her actions leading to the trial and during the trial were questioned. Their past were revealed and was made exposed to public. Every action Anna did was interpreted. Is she too emotional? Is she not crying enough for someone who just lost her best friend? And when the media became involved, Anna found herself in a spotlight no one wished to be in. But is she the real killer? Who really killed Elise? Is everyone telling the truth? Who is to be trusted? Who is reliable and who is not? Who’s innocent and who’s not? Friendships and relationships were tested. Two factions were formed, those who believe her innocence and those who despise her.
It’s been a long time since I last read a suspense/thriller kind of book. The last one that I remember reading was Before I Go To Sleep which was a good book for me but not that I can consider as a book that left a deep impression to me. If you’ve been following my blog for quite some time now, me and suspense/thriller kind of genre barely know each other. This book changed it all for me. It’s very well-balanced. It’s fast paced and got me so hooked all throughout. I was surprised how I flew through this book real fast. It’s gripping, nail-biting with a lot of edge-of-your-seat scenes as I waited for the verdict as to who really was the killer. The tension rose as history and secrets were revealed and I like how the author kept that momentum until the end.
I like how the author was able the structure the chapters go to and fro the timeline leading to the incident in a way that it’s not confusing. I like how it was flawlessly done. My problem with that type of format is that, I easily get lost but I did not have that issue in this book. I was glued to this book until the end.
“Any one of us could be made to look a monster, with selective readings of our history.”
― Abigail Haas, Dangerous Girls
I like how the characters were introduced and how the relationships between the characters were established. Flashbacks and details of their histories were provided bit by bit from Anna and Elise’s awkward beginnings to their eventual closeness that allowed readers to dig deep on their friendship. Their other friends who were with them on their trip were also given frames that when you think of it, they also have motives to become suspects. I can say that the author became very effective in her characterization because I found myself angry, frustrated and hopeful with the characters in the book. Let’s just say I was very invested while I was reading the book. I was so angry with the head of the prosecution for twisting everything that Anna says, angry with her friends who deserted her, frustrated with how the media judge her with how they present the story but hopeful in some ways with Anna’s positivity and determination. The way they were presented was very realistic and complex.
The book was told through Anna’s point of view and it did not become hard for me to sympathize with her. Her plight to proving her innocent was not easy. With only a couple of people behind her back, it was a struggle. Accusations after accusations were thrown to her. The way the author presented the story is so good that you’ll really have a hard time to be completely convinced that you already know who the killer is. I kind of already guessed who the killer was before I reached the ending but I kept telling myself, “no, that can’t be.” because the author keeps on twisting the story to play with your mind. The story fooled my brain into thinking that I already figured it out who the killer is. Now with the ending, it’s cleverly shocking which I did not see coming.
This book tackles the complications of “unhealthy friendships” that already borders on obsession and dependency. Anna and Elise’s friendship became too complicated that lead them spiraling down. More than just friendship and crime, the book also became more of a study about how people can at times be selfish for their own personal gains. It also has strong points about trusting others and your own self.
Overall, the book is Weird and dark but totally gripping and unique.
5 stars out of 5.
Author: Abigail Haas
Release Year: July 2013
Publisher: Simon Pulse
No. of Pages: 388 pages
About the Author:
Abigail Haas has written two adult novels and four young adult contemporary novels under the name Abby McDonald. Dangerous Girls is her first young adult thriller. She grew up in Sussex, England, and studied Politics, Philosophy & Economics at Oxford University. She lives in Los Angeles.