Published by Simon & Schuster Childrens Books on August 14th 2014
Pages: 328 •Goodreads
It all comes down to this. Oliver, Ethan, and I. Three teens venture into an abandoned lake house 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 the story together - a story of jealousy, twisted passion and the darkness that lurks behind even the most beautiful faces ...
I have to admit, I bought Dangerous Boys several years ago and had been waiting to read it for a time when I really wanted a treat, as I loved Dangerous Girls so much that I thought another thriller by the author would DEFINITELY deliver. And while Dangerous Girls will still hold a place in my heart as one of the greatest YA thrillers of all time, I was just so disappointed by Dangerous Boys. Perhaps it was the lack of the courtroom drama/unsolved crime element to the book, or perhaps I was comparing it too much to the author’s other work, but Dangerous Boys really fell flat for me.
I saved Dangerous Boys for a rare day of PTO that I spent laying out by the pool, one of my all time favorite summer activities. I breezed through the first 100 pages or so somewhat impatiently, waiting for the book to really feel like it was picking up. However, I really never felt like the story started- I felt like I was continually stuck in the buildup phase with no payoff, despite the timeline of the novel jumping between past and present (a technique that I generally enjoy). I felt like I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop and something really shocking to happen, but it all was just so predictable- who the “bad” brother was, who was falling under what manipulation, etc.
While Dangerous Boys no doubt had it’s disturbing thriller elements, I found that what kept me turning the pages was the family dynamics rather than the mystery itself. Chloe’s small town held a lot of families with dysfunctional relationships that pushed people to do things they normally wouldn’t, or toughened their compassion out of a pure drive for survival. I was especially intrigued to read about the trials that Chloe went through trying to handle her mom’s depression, having to defer school and navigate the role reversal in her family with her serving as the functioning adult in the household. I think Dangerous Boys is a quieter novel than Dangerous Girls in its disturbing elements, focusing more on how people are pushed to their limits through the day to day tasks and trials that they must face and resent, rather than one dramatic event that exposes people’s true character. While I definitely appreciated this different take on a thriller than Dangerous Girls, it ultimately felt too slow, and my attention ended up wandering at several points during the reading process.
Overall: While there’s no doubt that Abigail Haas is a fantastic writer, Dangerous Boys ended up being too quiet and slow for me after reading the whirlwind thriller that was Dangerous Girls.