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review 2019-12-31 00:00
The End of Everything
The End of Everything - Megan Abbott The End of Everything. The title seems fitting for the 100th and last title of the year. That’s why I chose this book that’s it.
Almost everytime I do this, I regret it because I really have a particular taste and choosing a book randomly makes it extremely easy to pick one I won’t like...

This book left me sick and not knowing what I had actually read. Maybe it wasn’t for me, maybe it’s not for most. Who knows? Very strange story (in particular the dad storyline) and I felt Lizzie (our narrator) was extremely annoying and unrealistic whilst that was not the author goal.
It still gets the 2 stars because it is well written and I have a feeling this didn’t work because of me and not the book or the author (It’s not you, it’s me!)
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review 2019-01-10 14:22
Girls of Steel
Dare Me - Megan Abbott

Megan Abbott takes the Mean Girls trope to extremes in her novel Dare Me, about a team of high school Cheerleaders who revel in their sense of entitlement and perceived immortality.  Addy Hanlon is the sixteen-year-old narrator who identifies herself as the “lieutenant” to her best friend and Team Captain, Beth.  Even as she kowtows and follows Beth’s every command, Addy recognizes how cruel and ruthless her idol can be. The alpha-beta balance of their relationship is threatened however, when the squad comes under the leadership of a new coach.  Colette French is not about to be dazzled or overtaken by Beth. Coach French is also a domineering force with a magnetic personality that upsets the team’s hierarchy and engenders loyalty and adoration from the girls, including Addy.  Beth is so furious with this competition for Addy’s affection that she embarks on a campaign to sabotage the interloper at any cost.  That includes implicating the coach in the suspicious death of a young Guardsman recruiter working at the school.  It is also possible, however, that Beth’s theory is correct- that their Coach is as guilty as she would like her to be.  Addy is torn between the two possessive women, the focus of their power struggle and a pawn susceptible to their deceit.  In this novel, all of Abbot’s female characters are depicted as either rapacious and cruel or passive and vulnerable.  Still, the women fare better than the men, who are mostly shadows in the background- all apparently weak and completely clueless. The themes of domination/submission are omnipresent, with no representation of a healthy relationship in any form.  Still, Dare Me is a well-written and gripping read, with some decent (if implausible) plot twists.  Wicked fun if a reader likes their thrillers dark and does not require likeable characters to root for.

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review 2018-07-24 16:50
Another Great Thriller From Megan Abbott
Give Me Your Hand - Megan Abbott

Megan Abbott has received rave reviews for her previous novels especially You Will Know Me and The Fever. Her knack for creating engrossing plots with complex characters is evident again in her newest work, Give Me Your Hand. Abbott manages to weave a taut, addictive tale while also addressing many timely themes and contemporary issues.  In this book, just some of the topics she touches upon: symbiotic/parasitic friendships, the stigma of mental illness, guilt and self-punishment, gender inequality in the STEM fields (both as a focus of research and in workforce representation), lack of NIH funding, class privilege and cronyism, and competition between women.  Give Me Your Hand takes place in a medical research lab staffed primarily with male post-docs. Kit, the main character, and their boss Dr. Severin are the only women, even though the focus of the study is PMDD (Premenstrual Dysmorphic Disorder).  The staff are vying for spots on Dr. Severin’s special team, an opportunity that could cement their careers.  They are all dismayed to see a new female employee entering their fold, especially Kit.  It turns out that Diane Fleming is not only fierce competition for the limited slots, she and Kit have a shared history that contains a disturbing and life-altering secret.  The novel pivots back and forth in time between the drama in the lab and the background story of how Kit and Diane met and became enmeshed as teens.  Abbott cleverly keeps the reader guessing and glued to the pages.  She challenges traditional ideas of ethics, especially for women who have been marginalized and forced to fight for advancement and recognition.  A page turner that also provokes deep contemplation, Give Me Your Hand is a great pick for the summer.  It will certainly reaffirm Megan Abbott’s deserved popularity and create anticipation for her next endeavor.

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review 2018-07-16 19:24
Give Me Your Hand - Megan Abbott
I was really disappointed while reading this book. Megan Abbott has written some excellent books and I have thoroughly enjoyed them.

This one? It took so long to really get into the story, for me. It was all about Kit and Diane in the past for a long, long time it seemed. Honestly, by the time Diane does show back up in Kit's life, I'm not sure I really care. 

However, when the action started, it was going. During all this time, however, there was a murder and years later, bodies are dropping out of the ceiling. Literally.

Not my favorite by this author, but still a decent read once you get about halfway through.

Thanks to Little, Brown & Company and Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.


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review 2018-06-07 04:33
The Fever by Megan Abbott - Mass Hysteria is a real problem in the internet age
The Fever: A Novel - Megan Abbott

At one point I considered throwing this a la Dorothy Parker. It seemed like it was heading to be way more misogynistic than it eventually turned out to be. It also turned out to be less of a thriller than it first seemed. I suppose if I'm forced to choose, I'd rather a modern woman write an unimpressive book than a misogynistic one, so OK. Onward --



I wanted to read something by Megan Abbott, and this was on Kindle sale. Turns out to be a bad way to pick an author's book. I'll give her another try with a more highly praised book. I didn't look at reviews beyond goodreads until after I was halfway through. The NYTimes really beat her up on this one, and I think they were unfair. They seem to think she just wants to tell a morality tale about staying away from sex IF you're a girl. Here's a quote or two:


this book’s punitive view of female sexuality is worth noting for its kinship with nonfiction writers like Caitlin Flanagan, Wendy Shalit and Laura Sessions Stepp, who argue that young women should protect themselves from the complications of sex by treating their sexuality as merely a minor component of monogamy. 


perhaps the difficulty many young women have in navigating their sexual choices stems in part from the ­pervasive depiction of lustful girls as hysterical and self-destructive, and ­lustful boys as simply normal; the assumption that sexual responsibility is solely up to women; and the confusing portrayals of vulnerability in girls as both dangerous (“a havoc upon his sweet daughter’s small, graceful little body”) and sexy (“She kept laughing and covering her face,” a boy recalls of the beautiful Lise. “She was so . . . young”), while vulnerability in boys is rarely acknowledged at all.


The problem with the Times' take is that this story REALLY happened. Not once, but many times and as the internet has grown in influence and availability, we're seeing more and more of these "outbreaks" of what can only be called female hysteria (technically MPI or Mass Psychogenic Illness.) It doesn't seem to affect boys and men nearly as much as it does adolescent girls. There are some important reasons (all are society-based and stem from gender expectations and conformity. MPI is "caused" by stress, and they aren't faking - these are real symptoms and it's scary. It "spreads" by one person seeing another getting sick, then they "get sick" too and on it goes. As the internet offers teens a ton of ways to communicate and share without anyone knowing, this is becoming more - not less - prevalent.)


So, I'd already read this story -- in the form of the multitude of breathless news reports from the 2012 NY events on which this book is based, followed and augmented by medical assessments and papers on that and similar 2002, 2001, 1998, 1992... events (and countless other similar events dating back to the Salem Witch Trials -- mass hysteria ain't nuttin new. BTW, those outbreaks are just the ones I remember.)


So, now onto the book and it's very connected. It is the same story with a crime tossed in for good measure.

"Eli couldn't figure out what it all meant, but he knew it meant something."

Dumb character alert! Eli may be the sharpest knife in this drawer, and that's his level of insight and observation.


With the addition of one little crime (OK, a bad crime, but it got only a couple paragraphs) that went entirely unexplained or examined, this was another female writer who wrote flat female characters with pale beautiful inner thighs and fragile bodies, but their brains can't hold more than one idea at a time. THANK GOD for the strong silent brother and the father full of vindictive divorce angst who can hold it in while playing father of the year and worrying about his fragile and small girl while seemingly having nothing at all to do with his son except when his daughter demands they take a ride. Oh, and there's a "slutty" mother who I'm pretty sure only exists to scream one of the silliest lines ever about "men and your sperm" through a phone. The whole book was Troy NY played out again in novel form. Instead of writing an ending, we got a page of "news report" that didn't explain anything beyond "a crime took place" - oh, and everyone is now fine.


Megan Abbott wrote a very good general interest piece for the Huffington Post on the Troy MPI outbreak, so I'm absolutely sure I'd have preferred to read a nonfiction account that didn't involve stick figure characters and tricks that even *I* know not to use in a thriller: 

It's all a case of mistaken identity that causes a jealous teenaged girl to poison another teenaged girl, then they all start dropping

(spoiler show)

 - that's it, but we get it only from a pagelong "news report." There is nothing much that follows that. Apparently they all just go back to the way things were previously (the book ends, so I don't know.) It would have been nice to read about how on earth this town of panicked kids with insanely panicked parents ended up this way or got back to normal, but much like the mass media - once the crazy stops, nobody waits around to see about the aftermath.


I was very disappointed for more than one reason, but I am actively looking for suggestions about Megan Abbott's books that aren't this one.

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