The Dare Club: Nita by Laurie Bradach and Kim “Howard” Johnson
Publisher: Double Dare Books
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (328 pages)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe
NITA CONROY has relocated to the most boring town on the planet. That is, until would-be boyfriend BRAD KEELEY spills the beans about a secret group of girls known as THE DARE CLUB. During her subterranean initiation below the high school. Nita overhears a plan by contractors and school officials to embezzle millions of dollars in grant money. When she is betrayed, The Dare Club’s pranks become deadly serious.
With the clock ticking, Nita will need the help of her new friends to expose the chilling plot–and hopefully survive long enough to snag a date to the Homecoming Dance.
How do you stop something terrible from happening when everyone thinks you’re the one behind it?
Nita’s fondness for Geometry (even if Mr. Close is a little dull) is tempered by her sometimes snarky takes on the drama of adolescent society. While she occasionally develops crushes on the opposite sex, finding a boyfriend is not at all a top priority. Eventually she knows it will happen but in the meantime she has so many other things going on in her life. Not every teenage girl is obsessed with falling in love and I thought the authors did a nice job of creating a well-rounded protagonist who is naturally kind and empathetic without ever coming across as too good to be true.
It took a little more time for me to warm up to the group of friends Nita accumulates at her new school. At first glance they seemed like caricatures of teenagers – the jock, the nerd, the cheerleader – but once I learned more about them I found something I liked about everyone Nita likes.
My biggest concern about The Dare Club was how long it took the main plot to pick up speed. Subplots dominated most of scenes for the first half which didn’t leave much room to explore the embezzlement scheme later on. As this book is the first in a series the authors need fans to meet many different characters but introducing the mystery earlier would have allowed us to get to know Nita and her friends as they attempted to solve it without ending up with uneven pacing. I felt a little restless while everything was being set up because I wasn’t sure which clues would actually pan out in the end and it took awhile for my hunches to be confirmed or denied. Once the plot picked up again, though, I was a little overwhelmed by how quickly things moved and had trouble remembering certain scenes from the beginning of the story because so much time had passed.
With that being said the subplots in the beginning paid out wonderfully at the end of the novel. There is quite a bit of room for personal growth for all of the members of the Dare Club in the future and I hope to hear from them again soon.
The Dare Club: Nita is a good choice for anyone who felt or feels out of place in high school. Some students are comfortable conforming to their social roles at that age. Others do not and this the group that will probably feel most at home with Nita and her friends.