Dead Girls Society is the fourth book I've read with a premise centering around a dangerous game. I read Panic by Lauren Oliver a few years back, and Need and Nerve more recently. You'd think maybe I would be tired of this premise by now, but I guess not- when I read the synopsis I knew I wanted to read this. And it was pretty good. This one had the added benefit of having a disabled protagonist- Hope has cystic fibrosis and that plays a large role in the story, as you would imagine. I liked the way the author wove it into the story- and not just the disease itself, but the way Hope deals not only with her illness, but also with the knowledge that she is dying.
Hope's life pretty much revolves around being sick and receiving treatments. She doesn't even attend school regularly, and her mother works a low paying job with flexible hours so she can take care of her. Her mother is totally devoted to her, but Hope wants more. She wants to go to school, she wants to live a normal life- and she wants Ethan, her best friend who she's in love with. I liked Hope and admired the way she challenged her limitations and refused to let her CF run her life. Her life takes a dramatic turn, however, when she receives a mysterious invitation to play a game of dares.
The invitation leads her into a dangerous invitation with four other girls, and they find themselves working together even as the ultimate goal of the game is to be the last one standing. All the girls come from different backgrounds and they make a pretty unlikely group- but oddly enough the shared dangers forge a bond between them, and they become close. Or if not close, then at least they share a purpose. The game is different enough from previous versions of this idea that I felt like I was reading something new- this didn't feel like a rewarmed version of Need or Panic. Yes there are similarities, but mainly the premise.
There are the expected twists and surprises, and the biggest thing for me with these is- when the reveal comes, is it plausible? I can suspend belief enough to go along with this idea, but it needs to be at least somewhat plausible. And it mostly worked here. If anything this reminded me of Pretty Little Liars, with the gradual revealing of secrets, and even reminded me a bit of Gretchen McNeil's Get Even from a few years back. And like other books of this sort, the Society behind the game have their tentacles so far into everyone's lives that you wonder just who could actually pull it off.
I did not guess the eventual perpetrators, although I wasn't trying that hard. I was content to just go along for the ride, and I'm glad I did. This was a fast read, and very much a YA read- you have the girl who loves her best friend but a hot popular guy makes a move, she's not popular and the usual other stuff- but nevertheless this was a good read. The disability was a nice touch, and the reveals included some things dealing with stalking and unforeseen consequences and how class differences can complicate life in high school. A solid read.