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…
Wow. What an intense, twisty, compulsively-readable novel. I got through it really quickly because I just could not stop reading. The whole time I was reading, I would mentally compare this book to Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, which I’d read recently, and this book held up really well in comparison, which, trust me, is saying a lot.
Anna Chevalier is in prison awaiting trial for her best friend’s murder. Did Anna do it? Was it one of their friends? One of the guys Elise always seems to attract? What about Anna’s friendship with Elise? It’s obvious from the beginning that Anna genuinely loved Elise, but what else is there? Were they romantically involved? Was their relationship more toxic than it initially seems? I spent a lot of the book asking myself these questions, and changing my answers with every page.
The story is told out-of-order, flashing back and force between Anna’s trial, the night Elise died, and the year before, with the occasional interview or police transcript interspersed. As a result, we get a little piece of the story at a time, one that makes our perceptions shift and makes us need to know more.
I wasn’t as surprised by the ending as everyone else seems to be. I wasn’t completely certain about it, of course, and the book constantly made me second-guess myself, but I still had the feeling it was going to end the way it did, mostly because it made the story so much stronger. (That said, the ending was wonderfully written and sent chills down my spine, so I’m not complaining that much.)
The secondary characters were underdeveloped, but I didn’t really mind, since I spent so much of the book completely focused on Anna and Elise.
I loved the ambiguity of the story. Anna is written in a way that makes her sympathetic to readers: mourning the death of her friend, facing twenty years in prison, constantly having her behavior and life scrutinized by people who don’t have the full picture. And then we’ll get a scene where we see Anna from someone else’s point of view and that other person observes how calculated and odd Anna’s reactions are. Or Anna will show that she has the capacity for intense anger and violence, and we go back and forth between sympathizing with her and questioning her innocence, or sometimes both. Of course, the way Abigail Haas withholds information throughout the book makes everything even more effective.
Elise and Anna’s friendship was complex and incredibly fascinating. They love each other deeply, but there’s a destructive, almost codependent edge beneath that love that becomes more and more apparent as the story progresses. Normally, this kind of relationship exists in male/female and sometimes male/male fictional dynamics, so I loved exploring it in a female/female dynamic. (Also, romantic subtext. Lots of it.)
It sounds bad, I know, but the truth is, we made each other, like we learned about in science class. Symbiosis. I was the partner in crime she’d been waiting for: a hand to hold as she ran, laughing, away from the ivy-colored gates she’d been gazing over her entire life. And Elise…she was my catalyst. The glint in my eye, the giddy thrill in my stomach, the voice urging my to be louder, bolder, to blend into the background no more.
We were both responsible for what we became, which I guess means we both have to share the blame.
The writing style is clear and straightforward with occasional gems like the one above. The pace is amazing: fast, without being rushed, and all the twists occur at the right moments. It’s so different from any other young adult book I’ve read, and I was invested in the story from beginning to end.
Pick up! Dangerous Girls is powerful, psychological, and intriguing. I may need to check out more thrillers in the future.