Publisher/Year: Simon Pulse- July 2013
Genres: Contemporary YA, YA Mystery
Other Books From Author: She's written many books under the name Abby McDonald such as-- Sophomore Switch, The Anti-Prom and Getting Over Garrett Delaney.
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Anna and her group of friends are having the time of their lives on Spring Break in Aruba partying and living at the beach. When her best friend is brutally murdered in the house they are staying at, Anna finds herself quickly being at the center of a murder trial in a foreign country by a prosecutor who seems to have it out for her immediately and friends and a boyfriend who have basically all but abandoned her. Everyone — the media, friends, — seems to think she did it. She knows the truth and learns more as the trial progresses and everything hinders on the verdict that determines whether she is imprisoned or free and whether Elise’s killer gets away.
You would have thought somebody put a gun to my head and said, “READ THIS BOOK AS FAST AS YOU CAN OR ALL YOUR BOOKS DIE” with how quickly I devoured this one. I started it and finished it in 3 1/2 hours flat with one break to eat. BEGRUDGINGLY. How can one eat when they need to keep reading such a page turner!!? Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas was the kind of page turner that will give you paper cuts from frantically turning the pages to satiate your need to know WHO KILLED ELISE AND HOW WAS ANNA GOING TO PROVE HER INNOCENCE.
So let’s talk about why I was cursing my brain and hands for not working together to read this even faster. And I’m going to try to be suuuuper vague because I think it’s best to go into this knowing the barest of essentials which I’ll give to you.
1. The premise: Okay, so the story is right off the bat going to remind you of the Amanda Knox story. I mean, I feel like I was eyes glued to that case and watching all the coverage and speculating on what happened. It also is going to remind you of the Natalee Holloway story that happened when I was a freshman in college and which prompted my mom to freak out and she made me PROMISE I would not go spring breaking. So Dangerous Girls is this mishmash of the two of them with some parallels but with its own tragedy to tell. The group of friends are in Aruba on Spring break and the narrators best friend is found brutally murdered. An investigation is done and she’s being accused, along with her boyfriend, and she finds herself in an Aruba jail being held until the trial. It’s just the kind of premise grabs you from the beginning because of the prominence of these cases and does not let you go until the very last page as you watch this story unfold where a girl’s best friend has been murdered and she’s prime suspect number one.
2. The suspense/mystery: Ah the way this story was told was just so perfect. All the tension and the suspense was palpable and the author just knew how to make you decide you couldn’t stop reading for even one minute. The world ceased to exist to me because I was so planted in the story. We flip back and forth from the past to the present and it’s one of those seamless transitions where you are eager to learn about the back story in the girls’ friendship, their trip to Aruba and the present day where Anna is facing the trial and trying to prove her innocence. Anna’s account of everything was engrossing. I constantly was changing my mind of who I thought it was and it was really easy to have a couple of scenarios in my head for the couple people who were my prime suspects. I kept flip flopping my theories and my distrust and I LOVED IT. If you don’t at all want to know my reaction to the end, skip the next two sentences. I kind of had an inkling of who the true killer was but I had shoved that theory aside so I was SHOCKED at the end but not shocked when it was revealed. There were some THINGS that made me think it but I was like still like WHAT THE WHAT THE WHAAAAT with the reveal and then that final paragraph.
3. The interesting commentary about media coverage & also the legal process in these situations: I know if this was a real case I would have been one of those glued to the tv watching it unfold. Analyzing the characters every move. I mean, in the book we see just how easy it was for the case to happen and then the media frenzy to unleash their campaign against her and paint her as a cold blooded killer before the trial even begun. They analyzed her background, her demeanor, took pictures of her that made her look like she wasn’t affected by this, etc. They took all these things and spun this story. It was interesting to watch this fictional thing to happen but KNOW this is so how it really is. It becomes a soap opera. Everyone has an opinion and an angle and every little thing is scrutinized and taken out of context. It was fascinating to see how media really plays into these stories. I’ve watched it happen and been one of those glued to the coverage. I also found the way the legal process plays out in a foreign country to be fascinating. I know that was one of those things about the Amanda Knox case that fascinated me but I was really so interested by this in Dangerous Girls.
If you like books that you are going to devour from page 1 because of the twisty suspense and mystery, get yourself a copy. This book surprised me! Shocked the pants RIGHT OFF ME. (Don’t worry, I put them back on. OR DID I?) You’ll constantly be guessing who did it and pointing the finger at everyone. I loved the premise and the way the story was told — it was this constant mounting anxiety while I was reading where it all was just so, so palpable — every betrayal and accusation and feeling of hope for Anna and GAH EVERYTHING. It was a nail biter FO SHO and kept me guessing and completely kicked my brain’s ass at times.
Let’s Talk: Have you read this one? What did you think of it? Did you guess?? (If you talk spoilers please label them but I’m DYING to talk about it bc HOLY CRAP!)