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  • ARC Review: Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia
  • ARC Review: The Secrets We Keep by Trisha Leaver
  • Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
  • Review: Karmic Hearts by Jhing Bautista
  • Review: The Conspiration of the Universe by Kenneth Olanday

Saturday, August 14, 2010

ARC Review: It Started With A Dare by Lindsay Faith Rech

Let me just say that the youth of today have come a long way from the youth of yesteryears. Back then, messing up someone’s locker number combination was considered a prank. Truth or dare was simple. Truth questions were limited to the Who’s your crush?-First Kiss?-Do you think he’s cute? type, and dares consisted of Go up to your crush and tell him he’s cool or Shout from the top of your lungs, “I love you, [name of crush]!” three times challenges.

These days, teens are in a rush to become adults. More often than not, they act and speak way beyond their years. They still go through the same mid-teens high school life drama, but are living it more daringly and more dangerously. Such is the case of the characters in this story.

Title: It Started With A Dare
Author: Linday Faith Rech
Pages: 312


Self-proclaimed nobody CG Silverman sees her move to an upscale new school as her chance to be somebody different. Her devil-may-care attitude attracts the in-clique, and before CG realizes it, a routine game of truth or dare launches her to iconic status.

While this rebel image helps secure CG’s newfound popularity, it also propels her through a maze of unprecedented chaos, with each new lie and every dare opening doors that, in most cases, were better off left shut.

CG is on a collision course with disaster. Will she be able to keep up the fa├žade? Or will the whole world find out she’s a fraud?

If you’ve seen the movie Mean Girls which starred Lindsay Lohan and Rachel McAdams, you’d realize how much the movie and this book have in common. But as you go along, you’ll start to notice the differences. While the movie was more on the superficial side, It Started With a Dare has more heart in it.

The story introduces us to a group of three girls, better known as Triple Threat, who befriended the new kid in school, CG (formerly Cynthia Gene) Silverman, and adopted her as the newest member of their clique. Soon, Alona Spelton, Grace Checkov, Sammie Fleischer, and CG became known as the Four Tops.

Each girl in the story is interesting in their own right. They are each given a distinct quality that will set them apart from each other. Alona is the rich, spoiled, queen bee of the group. She has this silent, authoritative air surrounding her. But even if the entire student body is under her spell, she’s quick to play along with CG’s outrageous ideas.

Grace, on the other hand, is the resident antagonist of Four Tops. She’s skeptical to CG’s plans, but often times push her to the limits. She’s quick to shoot down every one’s spirits when she feels she’s losing Alona’s adoration to CG. She’s jealous of Alona, CG, and even Sammie, but doesn’t make it obvious.

Sammie is the token odd girl out. She’s bigger than the rest of the girls. She rarely has opinions of her own, earning Alona and Grace’s annoyance, but CG’s compassion. The others think she’s slow and considers her body image an issue, but little do they know Sammie has problems of her own.

And then there’s CG. In an attempt to “start a new life” after moving from Philadelphia, CG adapted a whole new personality. She introduces herself as a rebel - a girl who has wild adventures, a no-care-in-the-world attitude, and daring lifestyle. It wasn’t part of her plans, but when she caught Alona’s attention, suddenly, she’s desperate to fit in.

Thus began the TDT, Truth or Dare or Torture, with CG adding a little more flavor to the once simple Q&A and consequence game, and Four Tops’ three months of CG-inspired rebellion. What started out as simple lie became a complicated web of deception. The more we learned about Alona, Grace, and Sammie, the more CG’s lies got out of hand.

To continue being part of four Tops and to keep up with her rebellious image, CG made up stories to embellish her typical, boring life back in Philly. She described her best friend Alex Kerper as an ex-boyfriend who she gave her virginity to. She claimed she was an alcoholic who went to rehab and is now ten months sober.

Her rebellion escalated to new heights when she started an online affair with her English teacher Mr. Bill Spenowitz, who knew her as her online alter-ego, Fiji. She kept her make-out sessions with Jordan, Alona’s brother, a secret. CG almost lost a friend in Glory Finklefuss, coz not only does she hide their friendship, but she didn’t do anything when the rest of the Four Tops placed a prank call to her.

CG, despite her rebel nature, is quite a lovable character. If we overlook her age (fifteen years old), I’m sure anyone of us could relate to the misconduct she displayed, especially during our late teens and early twenties phase. We root for CG when she fell in love and got her heart broken. We pin with her whenever she thinks of Alex. We feel for her when she was torn between wanting to remain in Four Tops and maintaining her (secret) friendship with Glory. The online affair with an older man seems far-fetch and it’s pushing the envelope of keeping with CG’s image. Her hookups with Jordan are more believable.

Earlier I said that It Started With A Dare has heart because, the story does not glamorize lying and betraying friendship, because CG was able to feel sincere remorse at the end of every day. She felt bad for Glory being an outcast. She showed concern when she found out Sammie is a closet bulimic. CG managed to see the good in people.

Needless to say, CG eventually learned her lesson. She apologized for her mistakes. She prioritized which friendship she wanted, and she acknowledged who she really was, and accepted her friends for who they really were.

Written with tons of dry humor, the book is an easy read. It has no pretensions at all. It pokes fun at the rich, but does not lift the poor up on a pedestal. And though it ended on a happy note, it didn’t go overboard. Alex became her boyfriend, but yeah, she was still grounded. Sammie and Glory forgave her and became her friends again, but CG was not popular anymore. As CG pointed out in the end:

So, I wasn’t a rebel after all. And when it comes down to it, I had fifteen minutes of fame. A flash in the pan of popularity. No one will even remember my name next year, let alone care that I was once friends with the forever-fabulous Alona Spelton. But don’t worry – I’ll be just fine. Because you know what, hey, that’s high school.

Lindsay Faith Rech managed to write the story in a captivating way, that I couldn’t bring myself to close the book, or in this case, since I was reading it as an ARC, I could not close the window. It is a page-turner, un-put down-able if I say so myself. I give It Started With a Dare a 4 out of 5.

Rating: ★★★★☆ : FANTASTIC! - This is a really nice book. I love it!


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