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 harsh revelations about her friendships, the slippery nature of truth, and the ache of young love.
Awaiting the judge’s decree, it becomes clear to Anna that everyone around her thinks she is not only guilty, but also dangerous. And when the whole story comes out, reality is more shocking than anyone ever imagined… ~Goodreads
After devouring this book in two days and staying up ’til the wee hours to finish it, my reaction was:
I mean, come on! But I love it when books do that. So sneaky and stealthy that Abigail Haas. I had to pace myself and not rush to the end to see what happened. DO NOT DO THAT! Let it unfold. When the last page is turned and all is revealed, I went back to reread and then reread the ending again to see if I read it correctly. I NEED to TALK to someone about this. What? But why? How come? For what reason? I don’t understand! Gah!
Now I can’t say anything about this book because, well, it would give away all the juicy bits. So this will be a shorter and ambiguous review. The Goodreads synopsis is perfect and then add that this is a book crossed between Gone Girl (the teen version) + The Amanda Knox trial/story + the Natalee Holloway disappearance and tragedy.
As far as YA books are concerned, this is one of the best I have read. Complex, smart, riveting, creepy, yet oh so good. But should it really be labeled YA? Maybe more of an NA rating due to the sex, drugs, debauchery and adult themes. I am not sure it is appropriate for YA (12-18). Maybe more mature 18 year-olds. These kids are bratty, privileged and indulgent without thinking about their choices having consequences. So be aware of that before you buy it as a gift for your 12 year old.
This book focuses on plot rather than how beautiful the characters are while caught up in some angsty relationship. The characters are not deeply developed, which could be a minor negative to the writing. But it’s the story that grips you and doesn’t let go. And I think maybe Haas did that on purpose so you could be the detective and figure out the psychological profile of Anna, Tate and Elise.
Haas also realistically highlights the media circus that plays out when a story like this becomes public and sensational. As an outsider and audience to the story, you rely on the media to research and reveal honest information. But sex sells. Drama is more interesting. We love to see people caught in lies. It makes us feel better about ourselves. Photos of the girls drunk and dressed provocatively is played on a continuous reel rather than focus on the facts and creates a character assassination. Conflicting stories from so-called friends question our trust. Even the media talk show hosts weigh in with their “professional” and somewhat biased opinions. Who do you believe? What is fact and what is fiction? You know there is a murder but the question is, “what was the motive”?
And that leaves me with one last comment. WHY isn’t this book being talked about more? I only came across it by sheer luck because I follow many book review blogs and it continued to pop up as “the book to read”. I requested it from my library (which is a very large and well stocked building) and they borrowed it from another library. Also, on Amazon, there are only 17 reviews and 5 on B & N. 5! (as of today) It’s really a shame that it didn’t get more marketing and it was published with Simon and Schuster! I know, too many exclamation points. But it just irks me when mediocre books get so much buzz and accolades and this one, nada.
Go and read it! That is all. And the end of all the !!!!!.
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. (Goodreads) You can find her website here.