"There's something dangerous about
the boredom of teenage girls."

Dare Me

Addy Hanlon has always been Beth Cassidy's best friend and trusted lieutenant. Beth calls the shots and Addy carries them out, a long-established order of things that has brought them to the pinnacle of their high-school careers. Now they're seniors who rule the intensely competitive cheer squad, feared and followed by the other girls -- until the young new coach arrives.

Cool and commanding, an emissary from the adult world just beyond their reach, Coach Colette French draws Addy and the other cheerleaders into her life. Only Beth, unsettled by the new regime, remains outside Coach's golden circle, waging a subtle but vicious campaign to regain her position as "top girl" -- both with the team and with Addy herself. 

Then a suicide focuses a police investigation on Coach and her squad. After the first wave of shock and grief, Addy tries to uncover the truth behind the death -- and learns that the boundary between loyalty and love can be dangerous terrain. 

The raw passions of girlhood are brought to life in this taut, unflinching exploration of friendship, ambition, and power. Award-winning novelist Megan Abbott, writing with what Tom Perrotta has hailed as "total authority and an almost desperate intensity," provides a harrowing glimpse into the dark heart of the all-American girl.

megan abbott, dare me, book, novel

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Dare Me movie news!

Dare Me now available in paperback in the US and UK. Visit Picador’s special UK Dare Me page.

Dare Me chosen as one of the year’s best novels and will be featured in Crime Thriller TV Book Club series in the UK. Read a Q&A here.  

Megan’s picks for Five Favorite “Dangerous Mentor” Novels at the Daily Beast.

Megan’s appreciation of the 1973 novel, The Cheerleader.

Dare Me chosen as one of Amazon's Best Books of 2012!

O MagazineEntertainment WeeklyNewsday and the Wall Street Journal all choose Dare Me as one of their Summer Reads

Kirkus interviews Megan about Dare Me

Of Routine, Rivalries and RisksThe Huffington Post interview

Dare Me is headed for the silver screen: Fox 2000 options novel for feature film

"Girls on Top": A Profile of Megan in Publisher's Weekly(paywall) 

KirkusDare Me: Top 10 Not-to-Miss Fiction 

Dare Me chosen as:

  • Dare Me nominated for Best Novel of the Year Anthony Award
  • by Booklist as one of the year’s Best Crime Novels 
  • one of Amazon's Best Books of 2012
  • one of Entertainment Weekly's Best Books of 2012
  • one of Salon's Ultimate Book Guide Choices for 2012
  • one of The Millions's Best Books of 2012
  • one of NBC's The Today Show's Holiday Book Picks: Gillian Flynn's selection

More praise:

“Megan Abbott has [written]...The Great American Cheerleading Novel, and—stop scowling—it's spectacular.... Subversive stuff... 'Heathers' meets 'Fight Club' good. Abbott pulls it all off with a fresh, nervy voice, and a plot brimming with the jealousy and betrayal you'd expect from a bunch of teenage girls.” —Chelsea Cain, New York Times Book Review

“Sexy and sinister," says the New York Times, dubbing Dare Me a Summer Beach Read Pick!

“Three cheers for Megan Abbott's Dare Me... Its take on the culture of young women is chilling and knowing...If you think all this is working up, "Glee"-like, to a final cheerleading contest, or to a sports-novel-type ending, you are very wrong.” — Newsweek

“Make no mistake, this is no pulpy teenage tale: It's a very grown-up look at youth culture and how bad behavior can sometimes be redeemed by a couple of good decisions.” — O Magazine

“Haunting...If cheerleaders scared you in highschool, you'll finish...Dare Me convinced you were right.” — People

“A compelling, compulsive read.” — Cleveland Plain Dealer

“A psychologically astute thriller...Abbott's latest is not only a page-turning mystery—it's also a close look at teen girls' ferocious rivalries and intense bonds.” — Entertainment Weekly

“Megan Abbott's chilling new novel...turns the frothy world of high-school cheerleading into something truly menacing.” — Wall Street Journal

“A tense, fast-pasted psychological thriller. ” — The Times of London

“What's exciting about Dare Me is how it makes that traditionally masculine genre [noir] feel distinctly female. It feels groundbreaking when Abbott takes noir conventions — loss of innocence, paranoia, the manipulative sexuality of newly independent women — and suggests that they're rooted in high school, deep in the hearts of all-American girls.” — Entertainment Weekly

“Mesmerizing...one of the most deftly plotted noir crime novels I've read in a long time. The requisite twists and turns subtly embedded within Abbott's characters' motivations...are the sign of a truly accomplished plotter.” — The Independent

“This terrific novel, Abbott takes a plot that seems torn from the headlines and transforms it into Shakespearean tragedy... This is cheerleading as blood sport, BRING IT ON meets FIGHT CLUB — just try putting it down.” — Booklist (Starred Review)

“A taut, twisted tale... Dare Me shimmers with dark sexual tension and poisonous possibilities.” — Marie Claire UK

“An extraordinary writer.” — Nick Hornby

“One of the most exciting and original voices of her generation.” — Laura Lippman

“Megan Abbott’s brilliant new book presents a number of possibilities—the mysterious and the erotic, as well as the inevitable and paradoxical lessons of girlhood—with such illumination that the joyful terrors of adolescence were once again present in me. Abbott’s characters... remind us that the loss of innocence can...emerge into a lustrous wisdom.”  — Susanna Moore, bestselling author of In the Cut

“I dare you not to love this book. You lucky reader.” — Tom Franklin, NYT bestselling author of Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter

“A fascinating, almost voyeuristic, glimpse into the power struggle that goes on between teenaged girls. Not just any teenaged girls—cheerleaders—with their own unique hierarchy and fierce code of loyalty, which they’ll protect at any cost. There’s a dark and twisted love story here, told with a rich sensual undertone that lingers long after you close the last page, still breathing in your ear, Dare Me.” — Chevy Stevens, NYT bestselling author of Still Missing and Never Knowing

“Arresting, original and unputdownable.” — Rosamund Lupton, NYT bestselling author of Sister

"In Dare Me Megan Abbott guides us into the subculture of athletic and fierce young cheerleaders, who train together, compete, and bond until they form a rugged unit much as Marines form a rugged unit. She finds the nearly sinister underside of everyday events and somehow builds great suspense from ingredients that seem so familiar. Abbott has become expert at revealing truths we thought we knew but didn’t, delivered in prose that is by turns elegant and incantatory." — Daniel Woodrell, author of Winter's Bone

Dare Me sneaks up on you from behind, pulling on long-forgotten memories of teenaged desperation, obsession, and desire. This is truly masterful storytelling.” — Alafair Burke, author of Never Tell