The voice – more accurately, the voices – are of Abbott’s protagonists and bystanders. Abbott teases, illuminates and weaves, perfectly, those inner thoughts and often half-spoken conversations that capture teen and pre-teen minds.
Two of Abbott’s books – THE END OF EVERYTHING and DARE ME – tell stories, yes. But these are not “Field of Dreams” macho stories. These are not stories of men finding redemption, new purpose, forgiveness – all wrapped in a soft, honeyed end-piece.
It’s always been a jungle out there, no matter whether a right of passage is in a forest or a desert, no matter if the backdrop is an asphalt jungle or a school gym, nor if the date is 1812 or 2012. The battles still rage – armies of soldiers or neighbourhoods of cheerleaders – the result is the same.
But Abbott flips the lid open on girls, tweens, teenagers and young women in a breathless gallup, her first-person prose always believable, drawing pictures of characters both intelligent and incomplete.
The mysteries in the books – for both are who-dunnits – are gripping and yet Abbott paces the action and inaction with a deft hand. When the pace drops, we’re interested in seeing the young minds of the protagonists in their struggles to piece experiences together, even those well beyond their maturity level.
Enid Blyton wrote adventures, often with fantasy leanings, with happy endings. Megan Abbott writes thrillers. Hard-boiled, noir thrillers. Don’t let the gloss deceive you!