Stop me if you’ve heard this one! A girl with low self-esteem* lives in the dark, rainy Pacific Northwest with her mostly absent, emotionally distant father. A new, devastatingly handsome boy moves to town and is almost immediately smitten with her. He makes her feel unsafe, but she sticks by him because he’s all dreamy and stuff. We know that somehow, someway, It All Goes Wrong, because the prologue—in which Our Heroine is attacked by an unnamed guy—is set a month after the story actually begins...
Read Bookshelves of Doom's take on 'Dust Girl.'
Before you get all worked up, let me answer your question: no. The dude is not a vampire. Instead, he has a secret identical twin. Who is evil. So, despite the similarities listed above, Mandy Hubbard’s Dangerous Boy reads much more like Lois Duncan than Stephenie Meyer.
I read an advanced copy, so everything is subject to change, but I’m very much hoping that Razorbill keeps the following sentence on the finished product: “But learning what brought Logan and Daemon to town won’t put just her heart in jeopardy…SHE’S PLAYING WITH HER LIFE.” (<--Their awesomely dramatic use of Caps Lock, not mine.)
Anyway, whether or not you’ve already figured out the ending will depend on how many similar stories you’ve read or watched. As I’ve read (and watched) a lot of them, I figured it out during the prologue. (Hint: there’s always a twist, kids. And in many cases, there are only a few possibilities of what that twist could logically be. Not that logic is always a factor.) That said, the story has some genuinely spooky moments, and guessing the twist in advance made a lot of those scenes more foreboding, rather than less.
Harper does a lot of things that made her a Traditional Horror Movie Heroine, but she’s still an engaging—if not always entirely likable—narrator. While I found her reluctance to get any sort of authority involved believable,** I found it less believable that her friends—two of whom were quite protective—wouldn’t have pushed harder. Or, for that matter, gone to an adult behind her back.
Despite some unlikely dialogue, some issues with Harper’s voice (How many teenagers use the word ‘coupe’?), and some odd technological disconnects (Great use of Facebook stalking, yet these kids could do with a crash-course in Google-fu. Also, the high school is still actively converting their school newspapers to microfiche? Really?) and some other minor threads that strained credulity, overall, it’s a fun, creepy little thriller.
*Despite winning the Dairy Princess title in last year’s local pageant. Which, judging by Harper’s terror of public speaking, seems like a completely out-of-character activity, but whatever.
**To a point. Once she realized that Logan’s brother was responsible for [SPOILER] and still didn’t even attempt to get an adult involved, well. That was when she officially crossed over into Too Stupid To Live territory. If these heroines would just watch more horror movies, they’d make better decisions. I JUST KNOW IT. (<--That time, the Caps Lock was all me.)
Let's be honest. If she isn't writing Bookshelves of Doom or doing her librarian thing, Leila Roy is most likely being tragically unproductive due to the shiny lure of Pinterest.