Have you ever read a book that you know is good, possibly really good, and you just can’t get into it? That’s how I felt about Dangerous Girls. In fact, I DNF’d it. It’s exactly my type of book – dark, gritty, mature YA. It doesn’t sugar coat the interactions between teens. Sex. Drugs. Parties. Friendship. It’s exactly the type of story I usually love. The writing is excellent. The style is unique. The characters are superb representations of a certain class of teen. I should have loved this book. I want to love this book. I don’t even dislike this book. I think what I read was good – but I just couldn’t connect with the characters.
This one is 100% on me. I can’t put my finger on what my problem was – but it was totally my problem. It’s like when you go on a date with someone who’s really hot, you want to like them cause – hot – but you have zero chemistry with. I’d pick the book up, read a page or two and then put it down for hours, if not days. I didn’t feel compelled to read more than that. I often have books that I read in spurts, but normally, I’ll hit a point where I just have to take the book and read until it’s finished. I never felt the urge to do that with Dangerous Girls. Well, I did once, but then I moved onto the next chapter and the feeling went away. I think it might have been the style. None of the chapters were long enough to allow me to get into the character before we shifted to a different time and we had to jump to a different point in that person’s personality.
I also could not get behind Tate. I had to keep going back and looking up his name. The other characters, sure, they all felt like they had their own personalities, but Tate felt a little generic. Maybe because I couldn’t feel his appeal, I couldn’t really get into both of these girls being interested in him.
Whatever my problems with the story, it felt realistic. You hear about these girls going missing/dying on spring break more frequently than is comfortable. One of the things I really liked about the story was how well it showcased the manipulation of evidence by lawyers and the media. Every innocent picture becomes evidence of foul play. Every off mood moment becomes more evidence. Reactions because a sign of guilt. Failing to react does the same. At what point does justice become simply a game? Dekker (the prosecutor) turns every piece of Anna’s life upside down to prove that she’s guilty. When told from the perspective of an ‘innocent’ victim, this becomes painful to read. How can anyone ever be found innocent when everything they’ve ever done is used against them? What person doesn’t have something in their past that would make them look guilty? This is the perspective we’re given in this story but it’s equally is unstomachable when it’s flipped the other way for defense strategy. I know nothing about the Aruba justice system, but this reads like truth.
The feature of the crime shows is what eventually made me stop reading – not because they were unbelievable, but because they’re so accurate. This social need for consumption of other people’s misery bothers me to no end. The more guilty someone looks, especially if they’re from a ‘good neighbourhood’, the more we want. The more people try to make them look wicked. And then it’s all about upping the sensationalism to keep viewers interested. All forms of media become obsessed – not with finding out what happened, but with laying blame. It’s a sickening twist of the justice system. Haas captures it perfectly.
So, even though I wasn’t able to finish the book, I would still recommend it to people. I think it’s a good book; it’s just not the book for me.