My rating: 3.5/5 (liked it a lot)
Life lesson: Don’t get too close to you best friend.
Dangerous Girls is a stand-alone YA mystery; in the first 25 pages we find out that Anna has been accused of murdering her best friend, Elise, while they are on a spring break trip to Aruba. Part murder mystery, part expose on rich teenagers, this novel is mature in its subject matter, but offers a glimpse into how easily someone’s past actions (especially on social media) can be used to create a narrative about their life, whether it’s true or not.
When I first started reading this novel, I jotted down a few initial thoughts after the first 50 pages: who is the audience? high school? emerging adult? (early college age) — content is mature with sex, drinking, drugs, and murder, but the language and writing style seem immature. I almost had to put down the book with this sentence: “Chelsea’s twin brother, Max, is already off bro-ing it up with AK by the bar, trying their luck with a pair of Swedish-looking blondes” (6). Am I reading something written by a sorority girl? But, it’s gotten good reviews (lots of mentions of a good twist near the end) so I’ll keep reading.
I was really worried about the writing style at first, but it either got better or I got used to it as the story went on, and I didn’t notice the immaturity as much later in the novel. There is a twist in the final chapter of the novel, and while I didn’t spoil myself this time (self-control FTW!), it wasn’t quite as unexpected as I was hoping. I liked my prediction better.
My favorite part of this novel, by far, is the focus on how Anna’s social media history is used against her in trial. She, like many teenagers, posted her entire life online: underage drinking, promiscuous photos, inside jokes that might be perceived differently than intended. I thought this book did a really great job of showing how dangerous it is to post too much of your life on the internet (says the person writing a blog…) and just how careful you have to be about the “online persona” you create for yourself. It’s a good message that I think could be useful for all teenagers.
So, I recommend sticking this one out past the immature writing in the first 1/4 of the novel. The mystery is engrossing and the author does a great job of revealing just enough at a time to keep the reader engaged.