The Dare

Delacorte. May 2024. 368p. pap. $12.99. ISBN 9780593704066.
Gr 8 Up–In Preston’s latest, senior pranks have kicked off, but they seem to have been taken up a notch. No longer harmless stunts, these pranks are now dangerous and often illegal. The Wilder Boys own this rite of passage assigning the pranks as “dares,” and it seems blackmail must be at play for the students to even consider following through. The first “over-the-line” dare involves breaking into a home and stealing a valuable gold watch. The next requires a group of friends to drive without headlights on a treacherous mountain road. When they realize the “thump” they heard was not an animal, but an elderly man (the same one who owned the stolen watch), the kids panic and do everything in their power to cover it up. They cannot have a manslaughter charge clouding their college plans. The tide shifts quickly, however, as each of the friends is convinced the others will crack. Relationships crumble as everyone does everything in their power to quickly paint their compatriots into the murder frame. Main character Marley works feverishly to stay two steps ahead of her peers. Discussion of race is absent and most characters default to white. The creation of suspense is superlative and the pages fly by as readers dread the next steps but also crave resolution.
VERDICT Readers willing to suspend disbelief will be treated to a solid murder mystery; this is a fantastic bridge into the world of adult thriller.

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