by Abigail Haas
Expected Publication Date: August 14, 2014
Length: 336 pages
Obtained Via: I received an advanced reader’s copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated in any way and this in no way affects my opinion of the work.
Standalone(Note: this is not a sequel to Dangerous Girls–it’s just a book in a similar vein!)
View at the Traffic light:
Three teens venture into the abandoned Monroe estate one night; hours later, only two emerge from the burning wreckage. Chloe drags one Reznick brother to safety, unconscious and bleeding; the other is left to burn, dead in the fire. But which brother survives? And is his death a tragic accident? Desperate self-defense? Or murder?
Chloe is the only one with the answers. As the fire rages, and police and parents demand the truth, she struggles to piece together the story of how they got there-a story of jealousy, twisted passion, and the darkness that lurks behind even the most beautiful of faces…
Dangerous Girls has been called a YA Gone Girl before, a description I find fairly apt. Well, if Dangerous Girls was like a YA Gone Girl, then Dangerous Boys is like a YA Dark Places. It’s a little less of a straightforward mystery and more of a complex and psychological look into the dark side of humanity, all while keeping up the thriller pacing. Much like Dangerous Girls, it’s worthwhile to go into Dangerous Boys fairly blind, though the focus of Dangerous Boys is less on the outcome and more on how these characters ended up where they did.
In fact, Dangerous Boys opens at almost the end of the story, with a stand-off and a transcript of a 9-1-1 call. From there, the book delves into the lives of the characters and their twisted relationships. There’s some narrative time-jumping, but the bulk of the story plays out linearly.
At the beginning of Dangerous Girls, main character Chloe has everything. She’s getting ready to leave for college, she’s caught the eye of the cute newcomer in town, and her life feels ready to begin. The only thing stopping her is her mother, who had a nervous breakdown after her dad walked out on the family. It becomes apparent that her mom’s breakdown is not a quick phase, which causes her to lose to her job and Chloe, at eighteen, gets stuck with the task of paying the bills and taking care of her mom.
She starts dating Ethan, gets a full time job filing paperwork and answering phones at the police department, and signs up for a few night classes at the local community college. It’s not the life she imagined, but Chloe tries make it work, while secretly hating the path her life took. In time, she meets Ethan’s brother Oliver, who recently dropped out of college, and suddenly Chloe finds her life venturing wildly off path. It all unravels towards that night in the abandon house with the two brothers that starts the story.
The heart of Dangerous Boys lies in the twisted relationships Chloe finds herself in and the willingness to explore the dark potential of humanity. That ability towards evil and darkness is something often hinted at in books, but never is it embraced so completely as it is in Dangerous Boys. It’s both fascinating and terrifying. Dangerous Boys keeps up a thriller pace, but there’s a quiet, subtle story playing out underneath–the story of two brothers and the war in the human mind of someone who’s seemed to have lost it all and desperately wants to take back control of her life.
Our lives are made up of choices. Big ones, small ones, strung together by the thin air of good intentions, a line of dominos, ready to fall.
It is those choices that Chloe wrestles with for the bulk of Dangerous Boys. Ethan is a sweet, good-meaning boy, but he expects more of Chloe in terms of goodness than she thinks she’s able to give. He constantly affirms her, all while making her wonder if she’s really the person she’s pretending to be. He’s kind and steady. Oliver, on the other hand, is as dangerous at the title of the book suggests, but compelling charismatic and someone Chloe thinks might actually understand her, all while he begins to attempt to groom her to be the person he wants her to be. This tug-of-war is at the crux of Dangerous Boys, and the winner determines who walks out of that fire and who is left inside.
You don’t know what’s behind that smile. You can’t imagine who someone will turn out to be. We assume the sun will rise every morning just because it has done every other day, but what happens when you wake up to darkness? When you open your eyes and find, today is the one different day?
Dangerous Boys is thrilling, yes, but more so, it is a compelling look at the dark places of humanity. It’s terrifying in the quietest of ways, and I know it will stick with me for a long time, just as Dangerous Girls did–and perhaps for even longer.
Dangerous Boys is an excellent look at the psychology of someone who has lost it all and wonders who they are in the end, torn between two paths, both vying for attention. It’s both terrifying and compelling, a book I know I’ll revisit more than once. If you’re a fan of thrillers, especially those that fall more on the psychological thriller side than outright mysteries, I highly recommend giving Dangerous Boys a chance. If you’re a fan of Dangerous Girls, I think you’ll like this one too, but they’re different enough to escape most comparison. 5/5 cupcakes.