Sadie Hawkins Sunday Review #51: Dangerous Girls

I received this book for free from YA Books Central in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Sadie Hawkins Sunday Review #51: Dangerous GirlsDangerous Girls by Abigail Haas
Published by Simon Pulse on July 16, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 388
Format: Hardcover
Source: YA Books Central
AmazonThe Book Depository

Paradise quickly gets gruesome in this thrilling page-turner with a plot that’s ripped from the headlines and a twist that defies the imagination.

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...

Recommended by: Blythe (Finding Bliss in Books)

For some reason, I really don’t have all that much to say about Dangerous Girls. Maybe you’ll all be grateful for the respite. Anyway, I seem to be a bit less into this book than everybody else was. I’m going to chalk that up to mysteries really not being my genre of choice, and not to any sort of issue with the book. For me, it was a decent read, but it wowed a bunch of other people.

Abigail Haas effectively makes use of unlikable characters. There truly isn’t a single person in this book that I liked. The teens are the popular crowd, and, even though their friends, they snipe at and backstab one another. Plus, they’re little rich kids whose parents will let them go to Aruba for spring break. They’ve lived lives of privilege up until one of their party, Elise, is found murdered. Making a story about unlikable characters compelling is difficult to do, but Haas pulled it off.

Haas uses interesting storytelling techniques. She mixes formats, which include regular narrative, call transcripts, text messages and interviews. This worked really well, since it added to the authenticity of the murder and investigation. As is fairly standard in mystery plots, Haas jumps around in time from chapter to chapter, releasing little bits of information in a controlled manner. The reader’s forced to piece things together and try to combine them into a larger picture. This gives the reader time to make their theories, effectively the judge of Anna’s trial for the premeditated murder of Elise Warren. Even though I wasn’t that tied in, I HAD to keep reading to know what happened and it was definitely worth it.

What makes Dangerous Girls so dark and shocking is the peek into the legal system. We grow up learning about “innocent until proven guilty” and assume that justice will be done. That’s not necessarily the case though. Detectives have their own agendas, as do witnesses. The deals that the prosecution will cut with at least somewhat guilty parties in order to obtain information on a guiltier party are shady and unfair. Basically, it’s terrifying, because, as much as we’ve been told otherwise, the justice system is actually stacked against the defendant. Thinking about a teen girl spending months in prison, even if she’s found innocent, and most of her life if found guilty, is a hard thing. Of course, this takes place in Aruba, not America, but the principles aren’t all that different based on what I’ve learned about law, which is somewhat minimal but still.

I think what left me wanting in Dangerous Girls was that everything was a bit too vague. The ending was satisfying, but I think the book could have been even more fascinating and shocking if Haas hadn’t skimmed over some details. For example, the relationship between Elise and Anna obviously went beyond friendship, but nothing’s really made of that. I’m not sure if it’s a hesitance to delve into lesbianism or what, but putting it there without delving into the way that complicates their relationship is half-hearted.

Mystery fans will want to check out Dangerous Girls, a unique young adult read.

Favorite Quote:

Now, for the first time, I wonder if this is how my mother felt. If cancer was her prison; the chemo treatments, torture.

I understand it.

I would rather die.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

bitches gots to learn

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12 responses to “Sadie Hawkins Sunday Review #51: Dangerous Girls”

  1. Kayla Beck says:

    I almost want to read this because of the hype, but I’d have to get it from the library. Is it an Amanda Knox thing?
    Kayla Beck recently posted…Review: Steelheart by Brandon SandersonMy Profile

  2. Molli says:

    Hmm, well I know Dahlia RAVES about this one, but it hasn’t really been on my radar in that “must have” way. I DO enjoy a good mystery – one that I can’t figure out – once in awhile, and the mixed narrative could either be a huge hit OR miss for me.

    Unlikeable characters, now. Those are something that are always a risk for me but I think more authors SHOULD use them and WELL/RIGHT. And hey, sometimes not having a lot to say isn’t a bad thing. And the peek into the legal system sounds really dark and interesting!
    Molli recently posted…Review: Proxy by Mindee ArnettMy Profile

    • Dahlia Adler says:

      Ha, I do rave about it, but it definitely has a lot of those things that aren’t everyone’s favorite – not-traditionally-likeable MC, unreliable narration, etc. I loved this this one though, for all the mixed formatting and organization especially – definitely not something that always works for me – and for the familiar stories (Amanda Knox, Natalee Holloway) woven into a new one, and especially for the ending. I’ve heard different interpretations, and I definitely understand feeling like it’s vague, but when I read it it felt clear and cool and awesome to me, so, I am definitely Team Five Star. Very much looking forward to her next one!
      Dahlia Adler recently posted…Top Ten Goals/Resolutions of 2014My Profile

  3. I…didn’t have a lot to say about this one, either. I liked it a lot (more so than you, I think), but I think my guessing the ending pretty early on didn’t help much. It was certainly well crafted and as you said, she does a great job of making you flip pages even though the characters are so unlikeable, but this one never really got my heart racing. Maybe I’ve read too many thrillers.

    Did you know there’s going to be a follow-up, called DANGEROUS BOYS? I’m not sure how I feel about that. I don’t think it’s a sequel, just…another book. But I guess it’s in the same vein.
    Wendy Darling recently posted…Secret (Elemental #4): review discussionMy Profile

    • Dahlia Adler says:

      I’ve asked the author, and she says DANGEROUS BOYS is a totally independent standalone. (She also said the blurb on Goodreads is totally out of date, so I’m curious what the right one is.) But yeah, same vein. Not sure why it’s branded to sound like a sequel/companion if it isn’t, but at this point I’d buy DANGEROUS GRASS GROWING by Abigail Haas, so.
      Dahlia Adler recently posted…Top Ten Goals/Resolutions of 2014My Profile

  4. I wasn’t as interested in this one as I normally would be because after reading the summary I immediately thought “Natalee Holloway” and was turned off. Your review makes it sound more interesting though.
    Dana (Little Lovely Books) recently posted…Green Valley Blog Tour, Guest Post and GiveawayMy Profile

  5. Bonnie says:

    A-ha! Someone who did not adore this book. I’m a fan of mysteries but am leery of this one. Will give it a shot someday maybe. I think there are a lot more potentially great mysteries I’d rather spend my time on though.
    Bonnie recently posted…Audiobook Review – The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two (Fairyland #3) by Catherynne M. ValenteMy Profile

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