By: Eric Devine
Publisher: Running Press Teens
Publication Date: October 2013
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: October 2013
Eric Divine’s latest novel, Dare Me, presents not-so-typical teenage antics among three high school seniors who take on the challenge of: Just how far will they take a dare once they are faced with the reality of whether they are man enough to accept the consequences?
Ben Candido and his friends, Ricky and John, are in their senior year of high school. Time is running out for them to change their respective images (and certainly peer perception) of the seemingly ‘nobody’s’ they have been all through high school. Things are about to change once Ricky makes a connection through Craigslist with mystery man ‘O.P.’ Ricky strikes the deal with O.P. that requires the three of them to perform ten outrageous dares throughout the school year. Ricky isn’t too concerned about buy-in from his buddies once they learn they’ll get paid for their high risk performances. He further sweetens the pot when he explains the money is endless based on the number of YouTube hits they’ll get once posted. The story opens with their first dare—car surfing in speeds in excess of 40 mph. The only job the ‘surfer dude’ on the roof of the car needs to do is stay atop the vehicle while in motion. To further enhance the dare-devilish acts, the three are contractually bound to do all stunts in disguise—an added bonus to the interest and intrigue.
The double-edged sword, however, is their rapid and unexpected virtual fame as the internet hits continue to rise in number. It’s all the buzz and rage at school. The adrenalin boost and instant celebrity the boys experience, even though their identities have been concealed, is the ultimate high. Their ‘almost famous’ status is well on its way to ‘famous’ and it seems the standings have changed overnight which also fuels their craving for greater risk and more dangerous stunts. O.P. is all about upping the ante and encourages the boys to keep going. While the rush fuels their fun and games, their bravado is somewhat stalled when one of them gets hurt. However, it’s too late to change their minds and that contract they signed doesn’t have a ‘back out’ clause…
Eric Divine demonstrates a strong voice and vision for his audience. After reading his biography (and learning he is a high school English teacher), it is abundantly clear he writes from (perhaps) personal experiences. The situations are fluid and credible throughout the story—situations that range from the dynamics of high school girl drama to the overly active testosterone of the boys and the awkward moments most kids this age navigate. Divine does a superb job of playing out the behaviors (particularly with high school boys) of the constant quest they are on as they vie for front and center stage among their peers. The story has a comfortable balance between actions and consequences, but doesn’t come off as preachy. Rather, Divine has struck a confident balance among choices, actions and consequences young adults face today and as a result, has accomplished writing an engaging body of work across the pages of Dare Me.
Quill says: Dare Me presents believable consequences a young adult must face as a result of the choices he or she has made.