Author: Abigail Haas
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Buy This Book: Amazon / Book Depository
Elise is dead.
And someone must pay.
Anna, her boyfriend Tate, best friend Elise and a group of close friends set off on a debaucherous Spring Break trip to Aruba. But paradise soon turns into a living nightmare when Elise is brutally murdered.
Soon Anna finds herself trapped in a foreign country and fighting for her freedom. As she awaits the judge's decree, it becomes clear that everyone is questioning her innocence. To the rest of the world, Anna isn't just guilty, but dangerous. As the court case unfolds the truth is about to come out, and it's more shocking than you could ever imagine...(Goodreads summary)
The truth about Dangerous Girls is that I purchased it as part of a 3 for £5 deal at The Works. It seemed like an interesting read, but nothing I was going to rush to get to it, it was probably going to sit on my bookshelf for quite some time collecting dust. But, thankfully, Amanda at Book Badger also had the book and suggested we read it together, so that we could discuss it with one another. I couldn't pass up the oppurtunity to do something that I was sure would be fun, so I said yes. But, to be very clear, my expectations for Dangerous Girls was pretty low. In the end, it turned into one of these reads:
I have been proved so wrong by Dangerous Girls that it isn't even funny. This has turned out to be one of my favourite books of the year so far, a delightful surprise and a book that kept me up till gone 4am so I could finish it. As a crime thriller it is pretty easy to see why this is a book that's hard to review, you can't say too much without fear of ruining anything. But I am going to try my best to give some reasons why you need to read this book.
Haas has won me over completely, she is one talented writer and that's plain to see from the very beginning. This book is told from Anna's point of view as she awaits trial after being falsely accused of murdering her best friend Elise, whilst on holiday with friends. Anna switches from the present to the past so that we are able to see what she goes through at the trial but also how her friendship with Elise came about, her relationship with boyfriend Nate, and how they spent their days on the island leading up to the murder. I was gripped from the very first page and this is a book that you will struggle to put down as you question everything and everyone.
What I really liked about the book was the fact that it was clear the author had taken inspiration from a real life case. If you have ever heard of Meredith Kercher and Amanda Knox then I feel like the things you hear about in the story will be eerily similar. Meredith Kercher was sexually assaulted and stabbed to death whilst studying abroad. A broken window seemed to paint the picture of a break in. In this book Elise is stabbed to death and her clothes in disarray, leading investigators to believe she may have been sexually assaulted. Her window is smashed so it looks like someone has broken in. But, like with the Meredith Kercher case, local police begin to poke holes in the theory, starting to believe that the break in could have been staged and that it could have been Anna herself who killed Elise. I thought it was nice that she used a real life case, I felt that she was trying to say something about how these cases are portrayed in the press. How the simplest of things or silliest of things you said at one time can be twisted and used to make you look guilty. I felt like how the story ended would depend on the authors own opinion of the real case and what really happened in her opinion.
There is no clear suspect in this book, you will literally come to accuse almost everyone that you read about. That's a testament to Haas good writing, it's never made obvious but the reveal isn't so ridiculous that you're left not believing it. It works absolutely brilliantly and perfectly and I was utterly gripped. I kept notes the whole time and my first and main theory proved to be correct, but I doubted that assumption myself for most of the book. You don't know what you're going to find out next or what will be revealed and it keeps you turning the pages. I felt like the writing immersed me completely in the story and what Anna was going through. I felt as anxious as she did awaiting the trial and the final verdict. This is definitely a nail-biting read that will keep you guessing write up until the final pages.
You get to see the interviews, the press coverage of the case and newspaper clippings that allow you to see how the outside world is viewing Anna and the case. That was an aspect of the book that I found really fascinated and loved Haas for including it. This book isn't so much about what happened to Elise, it's much bigger than that. This is a look at the justice system, how it's really about who puts on the best performance - the prosecution or the defence. It's a very important thing that we all need to think about, as well as the power the media has over these types of cases. In my opinion, Haas is a genius, and I like the intelligent way she puts these arguments across to us as readers. I think this is a book that will make readers think harder about cases like this, where all there is is circumstantial evidence.
I usually like to add the things I didn't like about the book, but this didn't have any negatives for me. The thriller aspect was spot on, I suspected everyone and was in the dark the whole time. Up until the big reveal I wasn't 100% certain of anything. Haas wrote all of the characters so well, they had distinct and individual personalities and you found reasons why most of them would kill Elise. Most made no sense but that's what Haas is showing us, just how easy it can be to find a motive when you're trying so desperately to find someone to blame. I just have all this love spilling out of me when it comes to this book, I am practically gushing in this review but I can't help myself. Don't just believe me though, Amanda will have her review up over at Book Badger soon so check hers out as well.
This book in two words:
If I could give this one a million butterflies then I would. Here I was expecting a so-so read and instead I got this kick-ass book. It kept me guessing the whole time, questioning everything and everyone. I felt for Anna and the fear she felt at her trial and awaiting the verdict. Each new development in the story and the case was a shock to me and had me gasping at the page. I couldn't have put this book down if I had tried, this is a book that once you start it you are pretty much done for. You need to keep going, need to see if you can find out who's responsible. Haas doesn't disappoint, the ending was absolutely perfect in every way. This book gave me serious chills. Haas, you're a genius and I applaud you. Loved, loved, loved it!