Author: Megan Abbott

The Fever by Megan Abbott

Posted May 15, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Contemporary, Pulp / 12 Comments

The Fever by Megan AbbottTitle: The Fever (Goodreads)
Author: Megan Abbott
Published: Little Brown and Company, 2014
Pages: 320
Genres: Contemporary, Pulp
My Copy: ARC from Netgalley

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle
(or visit your local Indie bookstore)

If you have not read Megan Abbott before then you need to do so as soon as possible. Originally working in the noir genre she has recently switched and become the Queen of suburban noir. Combining the elements we all know and love about noir and adding it to a modern back drop. Dare Me was a dark glimpse into the world of competitive cheerleading; think Mean Girls but meaner. Now Megan Abbott is back with The Fever, set in a small community, a mysterious contagion is threating their suburban utopia.

I may have said this before; just because a book has a teenage cast does not make this a YA novel. Dare Me may look like chick lit or YA but it is not; don’t let the cover fool you. I’ve seen on Goodreads that The Fever has been shelved as YA and horror and I can’t help but shake my head in disgust. While I’m sure plenty of young adults may enjoy this novel, I see nothing that connects The Fever with the YA genre. There are no horror elements within this novel either, a little suspense and I’m guessing this genre tag came from the cover. Now that my rant is out of the way, time to look at the novel.

Like Dare Me (and I’m sorry to keep mentioning this novel, I really need to read more Abbott) The Fever is a compelling noir that exposes the secrets that might be hiding in a suburban community. The Fever is a dark and chilling story that explores the ideas of desire, guilt and secrets. The mysterious contagion that is causing seizures to a group of girls is also promoting mass hysteria in the community. In an effort to make sense of this mystery, the community focus their blame on anything they can think of, from HPV, vaccinations, toxic algae and whatever else might make sense of the situation.

At the heart of this novel, I found an interesting exploration into sexuality, especially between the groups of teenage friends. These girls are in the midst of blossoming into women; their emotions are running wild and boys are become a popular source conversation. In the darkness and confusion they are dealing with these changes all alone. Abbott is putting the focus of the community on the contagion and this really amplifies that feeling of being alone and dealing with a budding sexual awaking without any help or guidance.

The Fever has everything you expect from a Megan Abbott novel; it is deliciously dark and sinister, it packs a huge punch and in the end you are left contemplating life. She has once again got the voice of the teenage generation perfect, not only the way they talk and interact but their thoughts as well. I like how Abbott integrates mobile phones and social media into her novels so effortlessly, I’ve seen it down poorly far too many times.

I know I’ve only read two novels to judge Megan Abbott on but she continues to impress, I know The End of Everything will be consumed pretty soon before moving onto her old school noir novels. I love her modern suburban noir style, she has really found her voice and style and it is working well for her. Don’t go in expecting a nice coming of age story; this is gritty and this is what Megan Abbott does better than anyone else.

Dare Me by Megan Abbott

Posted November 19, 2012 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Contemporary, Pulp / 0 Comments

Dare Me by Megan AbbottTitle: Dare Me (Goodreads)
Author: Megan Abbott
Published: Picador, 2012
Pages: 325
Genres: Contemporary, Pulp
My Copy: Paperback

Buy: AmazonBook Depository
(or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Beneath the glitz and glamour of this high school cheerleading squad is something dark. Beth Cassidy is the head cheerleader, her best friend Addy Hanlon is her right hand woman. While Beth calls the shots, Abby enforces; this has been the long established hierarchy. But when the new coach arrives, the order is disrupted. While coach draws the girls in and establishes a new regime, a suspicious suicide will put the team under investigation.

This is my first Megan Abbott read and I was excited to see a fresh take on the noir genre into what has often been called suburban noir. It combines the elements I love about noir and places it into a modern setting. You get a glimpse of the dark heartedness of teenage girls in a competitive cheerleading squad, all wanting to be the best and to be popular; but how far will they take it?

When I think of noir, I think of an atmosphere which is dark and grey, but I was really pleased to see just how well it translates into the bright suburban setting. Think of this as Mean Girls to the extreme; you have the bitchness of the girls, the struggle for popularity, and the angst but this is all turned upside down due to the shake-up caused by the new coach and the mystery surrounding their lives.

This is a well-paced, easy to read, modern, edge of your seat mystery that was a pure joy to read. I went and brought some older Megan Abbott novels before I even finished this one. The only thing that I didn’t like about this book was the cover. It looks like it’s a chick-lit or YA novel but I knew it would be a noir novel. I’m not sure if the cover works; now that I’ve read the book I don’t mind the cover too much but for someone that has never read Megan Abbott, what message is the cover sending? Also there is a little gripe I want to mention about this book on Goodreads; just because this book has teenagers as the main characters, does not make this book YA!

Apart from those minor issues I have with the cover and the classification of the book on Goodreads, I would say Dare Me by Megan Abbott is a beautifully disturbing book to read. I had so much fun reading this novel and I think it might be a good introduction to her work. Cheerleaders can be mean and it’s scary to think what lengths they will go to to be the leader and popular one. I’m looking forward to trying some of Abbott’s older books which seem to be more of a traditional noir novels but I also want to read some more of suburban noir as well. As a fan of noir, it pleases me that her modern take of the genre worked this well.