Recommendation Tuesday: Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas
Recommendation Tuesday started as a joke and is now an official thing. Basically, this is my way of making Tuesday a little more awesome. If you've got a book to recommend on this or any Tuesday, tweet me at @FullShelves and I'll help spread the word.
Have you ever read a book that you wanted everyone you know to read so you can talk about it with them?
Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas, which Racquel over at The Book Barbies has recommended rather aggressively for some time now, is one of those books.
Dangerous Girls opens with a 911 call on Aruba. A group of privileged teenagers on spring break report that they've found their friend stabbed to death, blood covering her room and the glass door broken. Elise, the dead girl, is the best friend of narrator Anna, a relative newcomer to this ultra-wealthy crowd, with her "new money" contrasting with the old New England wealth of many of her friends, including Elise. Before she knows it, Anna is arrested and awaiting trial for her best friend's murder.
As Anna's fighting the charges, the non-linear narrative explores the complicated nature of friendship, the very idea of truth, and how easy it is for court of public opinion to depict anyone as a monster.
With a twisted story like Dangerous Girls, there's not a lot I can say about the story without spoiling it. So, I thought I'd share a few reasons why Dangerous Girls is one you'll want to check out.
Badass Non-Linear Storytelling
It takes a skilled writer to pull this technique off effectively, but Haas does it. There are a number of timelines running concurrently in Dangerous Girls: "Now" (Anna's trial), "Before" (the group's vacation prior to Elise's death), the investigation, the deeper backstory of Anna's friendship with Elise and her relationship with her golden boy boyfriend Tate, plus an interspersing of other types of storytelling: Interrogation transcripts, news reports and text messages.
A Twofer Mystery
Dangerous Girls is a double-whammy. Not only did it leave me guessing as to who killed Elise, I had no idea what Anna's fate would be in the sketchy Aruba criminal justice system (there is no jury and the police investigator is also the prosecutor).
Sharp Media Criticism
One of my favorite elements of this novel is the examination of the way media (both traditional and social) can easily construct identities for people. Dangerous Girls confronts this in a pretty mind-twisting way that I quite enjoyed.
The Spectrum of Privilege
This is something that will either work for folks or not at all, but I was fascinated by the differences between the new and old money wealth of the teenagers in this book. They all have truckloads of money, but Anna and A.K. (one of the friends who went to Aruba) are both new to their socio-economic class. The others, including Tate and Elise come from powerful families, whose wealth spans generations and with it comes social and political clout that's not obtainable for the newly-monied teens.
It Keeps You Guessing
It's been a long time since I didn't figure out a mystery before it was revealed. And while I suspected the resolution to Elise's murder in terms of "who done it," I had a major, "WHOA!" moment when it was revealed. And it all made sense. It's not a "twist" and unexpected, but rather, the story is so tightly written and so many people's motivations are murky, that anyone could have killed Elise.
It case I'm being ambiguous, Dangerous Girls is tough to put down and one that's perfect for blowing off the day with and curling up are reading straight through. Even if thrillers aren't normally your thing, this one is worth checking out, since it's such an interesting book, both from structural and character perspective.