My two favourite genres in fiction (the psychosocial thriller and YA) intertwined magnificently in this mind boggling novel by British author Abigail Hass.
Spring Break. It is one of those American dreams that the average British teen, like myself, can only experience through Magaluf, Ayai Napa or Ibiza. I.e. My idea of hell. But the American version seems more romantic. Then again maybe I should be grateful for not possessing these ultimate drinking, drugs and sex holiday as sometimes they can turn deadly. That is exactly what happened when an elite group of teenagers have one last ditch for freedom before they head off to college next semester.
A fatal event changes the lives of eight teenagers when they spend spring break on the island of Aruba in the Caribbean Sea. Elise receives the worst blow of all: death. She is found viciously stabbed in her villa bedroom. Her best friend Anna Chevalier is the one left picking up the pieces. Anna is awaiting the trial of Elise. Anna is the prime suspect.
The narrative is told to us in different tenses. I don’t know what I enjoyed more; the build-up to the trial itself or the chapters dedicated to the past friendship between the two girls. The plot was extremely thrilling and quick in pace, however, it was equally exciting to analyse the lives of these two best friends.
Dangerous Girls wasn’t only a great read, but it made me look at murder suspects differently. It definitely expresses a life lesson we should never forget: don’t presume suspects are guilty by relying on pure gossip. Don’t follow the crowd unless there is true evidence. Anna in the novel is rigid in her opportunities to escape because the prosecutor is adamant that she is the killer. This means the press has the guilty verdict scribbled across the newspapers and broadcasts. The world wants the scapegoat and she sure is it.
You couldn’t help feeling sorry for Anna as all you can think is: What if I were in her shoes? To have this inability wrapped around your shoulders would be so difficult.
Anna was put through hell in her trial. Primarily, the prosecutor would use photos of her posing with Elise as examples that her character was destructive. This is laughable. You can’t possibly judge a person’s behaviour through Halloween photos. I hope to God the court can’t count this as evidence in the real world. Also, the way the news turned her into this unspeakable creature from a horror story before she had been pronounced innocent or guilty was horrendous. I haven’t even gone into the fact that all her friends deserted her. ..
Most of the characters weren’t really likeable in the novel. Excluding an exceptional few, most characters only cared about their own ambitions. Haas too noted the corrupt ideology that if you have a bit of money running in the family than you can make your way out of anything.
Some of the plot was pretty unrealistic. One of the guys (I think it was Lamar) gaining his own TV news show and a million dollar book deal, which was a bit too over-the-top – especially when he had bag loads of money to begin with. Although, this worked in fuelling our hatred towards the group of friends who turned their back on Anna.
The ending of the book is one you will either love or hate. I finished the book at one thirty in the morning as I was determined to find out who the killer was before I fell asleep. I will not name who the murderer is, however I need to vent about it so unless you have read the book, skip the following two paragraphs.
Did you think this character was going to be the killer? From here on in I’ll call the killer Bob. Obviously at one point in the book you thought Bob was going to be the person who murdered Elise. Yet, you had to discard this line of thought because it seemed too impossible. This was especially the case when there were red herrings thrown into the mix who could have been the true killer. However, I have to admit my heart was slightly broken (and I hope yours was too) at who the killer turned out to be as it transformed the book into an even more sinister read than it was previously. I’ve never felt this way about a book before, but once I had finished the final pages I have to honestly admit I felt a little scared. I think this anxiety submerged within me because the book expressed that we can’t truly trust a person. EVER. But you do think you can trust a book and that is what makes it all depressing.
With this being the case about Bob, Haas was contrastingly clever and confusing. Clever because her narrative made it feel as though it couldn’t possibly be Bob, but confusing because with a first person narrative you couldn’t possibly hide that you hadn’t done it. You couldn’t leave it out in you stream of thoughts, if you will. I also felt this was the wrong ending because it was an easy way out. In psychological thrillers it tends to turn out that the protagonist has been crazy the whole time and he is the baddie. For the whole book I felt so attached and emotionally drawn towards it, however I found out that I didn’t know the book at all. If the ending had been differently I would have given this book five stars. But before the ending I have to sadly give it a four.
I would fully recommend reading Dangerous Girls as it will no doubt be a hit (expect a film adaptation in 2015) and the book stays with you. Need some solid evidence? I’m still brewing over the ending four days after the reveal.