Dare Me now in paperback!

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

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 Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, Newsday 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 Risks: The Huffington Post interview

Addy Hanlon and Beth Cassidy are the varsity cheerleaders all the other girls fear and admire, the unchallenged rulers of their high school kingdom. But everything changes when the new coach arrives. Cool and commanding, Coach French seems perfect in every way, a charismatic presence who overturns the girls' established pecking order and still manages to gain their fierce allegiance in the process.

Then a shocking event upends their fragile peace, and a police investigation begins circling in on the coach and her squad. As the girls's season moves towards its highly anticipated finale, Addy and Beth are forced to ask where their loyalties lie as they stakes grow higher, and more dangerous.

Award-winning novelist Megan Abbott, writing with what Tom Perrotta has hailed as "total authority and an almost desperate intensity," offers up a Fight Club among cheerleaders, a harrowing exploration into the dark heart of the all-American girl.

Also in July, the paperback publication of Abbott's most recent novel, The End of Everything, which was a Los Angeles Times bestseller; a Publisher's Weekly Book of the Year, an Indie Next pick; was featured in Time, the New York Times, and Entertainment Weekly; and won praise from bestselling authors Tom Perrotta, Kate Atkinson, Tana French and Nick Hornby.

For media inquiries:
Please contact Michelle Aielli at Little, Brown at 212-364-1223 or michelle.aielli (at) hbgusa.com


“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 Abbbott'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


After a game, it takes a half hour under the shower head to get all the hairspray out. To peel off all the sequins. To dig out that last bobby pin nestled deep in your hair.

Sometimes you stand under the hot gush for so long, looking at your body, counting every bruise. Touching every tender place. Watching the swirl at your feet, the glitter spinning. Like a mermaid shedding her scales.

You're really just trying to get your heart to slow down.

You think, this is my body, and I can make it do things. I can make it spin, flip, fly.

After, you stand in front of the steaming mirror, the fuchsia streaks gone, the lashes unsparkled. And it's just you there, and you look like no one you've ever seen before.

You don't look like anybody at all.

At first, cheer was something to fill my days, all our days.

Ages fourteen to eighteen, a girl needs something to kill all that time, that endless itchy waiting, every hour, every day for something-anything-to begin.

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

Coach said that once, one fall afternoon long ago, sharp leaves whorling at our feet.

But she said it not like someone's mom or a teacher or the principal or worst of all like a guidance counselor. She said it like she knew, and understood.

All those misty images of girls frolicking in locker rooms, pom-poms sprawling over bare bud breasts. All those endless fantasies and dirty boy-dreams, they're all true, in a way.

Mostly, it's hard, it's sweaty, it's the roughness of bruised and dented girl bodies, feet sore from floor pounding, elbows skinned red.

But it is also a beautiful, beautiful thing, all of us in that close, wet space, safer than in all the world.
The more I did it—the more it owned me. It made things matter. It put a spine into my spineless life and that spine spread, into backbone, ribs, collar bone, neck held high.

It was something. Don't say it wasn't.

And Coach gave it all to us. We never had it before her. So can you blame me for wanting to keep it? To fight for it, to the end?

She was the one who showed me all the dark wonders of life, the real life, the life I'd only seen flickering from the corner of my eye. Did I ever feel anything at all until she showed me what feeling meant? Pushing at the corners of her cramped world with curled fists, she showed me what it meant to live.

There I am, Addy Hanlon, sixteen years old, hair like a long taffy pull and skin tight as a rubber band. I am on the gym floor, my girl Beth beside me, our cherried smiles and spray-tanned legs, ponytails bobbing in sync.

Look at how my eyes shutter open and close, like everything is just too much to take in.

I was never one of those mask-faced teenagers, gum lodged in mouth corner, eyes rolling and long sighs. I was never that girl at all. But I knew those girls. And, when she came, I watched all their masks peel away.

We're all the same under our skin, aren't we? We're all wanting things we don't understand. Things we can't even name. The yearning so deep, like pinions on our hearts.

So look at me here, in the locker room before the game.

I'm brushing the corner dust, the carpet fluff from my blister-white tennis shoes. Home-bleached with rubber gloves, pinched nose, smelling dizzyingly of Clorox, and I love them. They make me feel powerful. They were the shoes I bought the day I made squad.

Used with permission. Joe Phelan, ©MaineToday Media.

More Information

A searing novel of friendship and betrayal.

Dare Me, by Megan Abbott

Publisher: Reagan Arthur Books, Little, Brown
Publication: July 31, 2012
ISBN-10: 0316097772
ISBN-13: 9780316097772
Price: $24.99

Order from Indiebound, Barnes & Noble, Amazon and lots of other places.

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

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)

Kirkus: Dare Me: Top 10 Not-to-Miss Fiction

UK cover:

UK cover of Dare Me, by Megan Abbott

Publisher: Picador
Publication: May 10, 2012
ISBN: 9781447221159
Price: £12.99

Dare Me has been shortlisted for the Crime Writers' Association Steel Dagger Award for Best Thriller

Join Dare Me page on Facebook.

You Will Know Me | The Fever | Dare Me | The End of Everything | Other Books | News | Appearances | About Megan | Short Stories | Contact | Home | Site map