Wednesday, December 28, 2016

DANGEROUS GIRLS BY ABIGAIL HAAS - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, the highly under-rated book, Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas.


Oh my goodness. What was that? WHAT WAS THAT?

This book follows the story of a group of teens on Spring Break in Aruba. No parents, just a bunch of teens with access to copious amounts of alcohol, few restrictions and nights of wild parties. Fun times, right? Well, it is, until one of the girls, Elise is found dead, stabbed with the home's kitchen knife thirteen times. While the authorities question the entire group, their main focus is on two of the teens, Elise's best friend Anna, the stories narrator, and Tate, Anna's boyfriend. Soon, Tate's rich family steps in and cuts a deal, leaving Anna the main suspect. Except Anna didn't do it. But if she didn't, no one has any idea who did.

There was a lot going on in this story. Firstly, Anna and Elise's relationship. The two were seemingly joined at the hip, fast friends after Anna switched schools. Elise is a little crazy, she dabbles in illicit substances and enjoys flirting with guys for drinks and then ditching them. She wins herself a lot of enemies this way. Under the scrutiny of a judge, their relationship comes across as an obsession, a co-dependence Anna has on Elise. Personally, I didn't see a ton of that, but I could definitely see the stretches made.

Another really interesting element of this novel is the portrayal of foreign crime and justice systems in other countries. In America, Anna would be innocent until proven guilty. But as an outsider, she is treated as a killer from the beginning. I thought this was an interesting commentary on the way crime is treated around the world, but also perhaps an unintended commentary on the justice system in America and it's tendencies to lean to one verdict based on the person. Anna comes from a fairly wealthy home, she's white and well educated. In America, she would be favoured by a jury. However, in Aruba, she is not quite rich enough to buy her freedom. I thought this was an interesting look at a situation that would have gone very differently if she was someone else, or was somewhere else.

Throughout the novel, you can feel Anna unraveling and frankly, her innocence. There was never a doubt in my mind that she was innocent. I couldn't find a motive, and even as new things came to light, I felt like she was telling the truth. Anna tells a story of I guess three timelines; when she first meets Elise a few years back, when they first arrive in Aruba, and the events after she is forced to stay on the island in a correctional facility until her trial. She spends a long period of time there, almost 200 days I think it was, and her descriptions were so raw and real. You could feel her helplessness, being trapped, being unable to win against a biased prosecutor. I felt so many emotions alongside Anna. Haas does a brilliant job of putting you so squarely in Anna's shoes, you become almost frantic yourself.

This book also touches on the media portrayal of crime, especially that of such serious ones such as a murder charge. Anna comments herself on the lack of balance in the media, they constantly portray her as a killer before they have all the facts and before an official verdict has been reached.

The story also takes an interesting look at guilt and that from circumstantial evidence. Photos and conversations are taken out of context, anger misconstrued. It made me concerned about how easy it was for someone to look guilty when they are completely innocent. This book takes a major fear I think many people have, of not being believed, and twisting it into literally the worst case scenario.

When the final verdict is given, I was shocked. Part of me knew it was going to happen, but part of me was still unsure. And at the end, when we find out what actually happened, I was not prepared for that. I had some speculations throughout the story, but never once I thought it was who it was.

Overall, I loved this book and highly recommend it to anyone and everyone!