The Dare by Hannah Jayne Review

Monday, May 26, 2014

Title: The Dare
Author: Hannah Jayne (Twitter)
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publish Date: July 1, 2014
Genre: YA, Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 288
Source: Publisher

Two jumped off the pier that night...but only one came back alive.

Bryn did everything with her best friend Erica. So when someone dared Erica to jump off the pier one night at Harding Beach, Bryn was right by her side. But when Bryn made it back to the surface, Erica was nowhere to be found. Bryn tries to make a fresh start by burying her memories of that awful night. But when a Twitter post from "EricaNShaw" pops up on her feed and a chilling voice mail appears on her phone, she realizes that someone isn't ready to let go of the past...
A good mystery or thriller has the ability to keep you thinking about it long after you've closed the book on the last page. I am the type of reader that is almost constantly in search of the perfect mystery, and I'll read anything and everything until I find that gem. Author, Hannah Jayne, is known for her gripping storylines, darker themes and embracing the underbelly of humanity. So, naturally, I was drawn to The Dare, if only because I wanted to better understand what happened to Brynna that night and what, or who, was determined to haunt her future. 

The Dare, in theory, had all the makings of the perfect thriller - a traumatized protagonist, a mysterious threat, a desperate attempt at a new life and a haunted past. I found myself struggling to connect with Brynna from the start though, and not simply because she was so walled off from the world. Having seen and experienced her best friend's death at her last school, she enters Hawthorne with the goal of flying under the radar. Yet, she feels as though the lurking stares, the eyes and the pain of her past never quite leaves her. She was very standoffish, as well, which made it difficult to access her emotions and understand whether they were fear-driven, or if she really was as selfish as she appeared. 

I read The Dare in one day, and I do believe that Hannah Jayne has a great writing voice that's both personable and likable. Unfortunately, however, I struggled to find myself getting fully invested in the story and the plot. For one, we're given a host of secondary characters including Darcy, Lauren, Evan and Teddy, but none of them are ever fully introduced to us. Lauren's character often blended into Darcy's, though Darcy was given this arrogant persona that only seemed to serve as a device to throw us off the real villan's trail. Evan was given a side-arc in which he comes out to Bryn, but it felt as though it was haphazard and only offered up simply to serve a later agenda in the story. And Teddy? Frankly, as a love interest, I never really got to know Teddy at all.

My main issue with The Dare, however, lies within the plot, itself. We spend a ton of time throughout the novel accessing Brynna's internal struggle and her fear of the water since the night of Erica's death. The threatening tweets, phone calls and emails are interjected throughout, but they don't feel like they take center stage at all. And, perhaps my biggest qualm of all is that we're barely even introduced to our villain in the story, but we're expected to take the giant leap in the end and simply accept those characteristics without question. I felt as though we finally started getting somewhere, then the novel abruptly closes and we're left with nothing but questions and a lack of plot development. 

I wanted to love The Dare because I really enjoy the writing and the voice, but it simply fell short of the spectacular mystery that I'd been hoping for. Had we been given an extra hundred pages, plus a little more depth to the story and the backstory, this is the type of mystery that could keep me awake for days. I give it a 2.5 out of 5, and I recommend it to fans of YA - especially those who enjoy the author's style and light mysteries.

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.


  1. Hum...I don't think this one is for me. Without getting some more insight into the villain and get to know the love interest and secondary characters better, it's hard to really root for/against them. Plus, it sounds like the plot needed a bit more tweaking to make it really work.

    1. That was my biggest issue, Mary. I had to make a huge leap to a little-known character that ended up being the villain. It just didn't feel tense or dramatic…just overdone.

  2. I had some of the same issues as you did with one of Hannah Jayne's previous mystery novels. Her writing is decent, but her characters aren't well fleshed out, especially, the villains. It's a shame that this didn't work out for you, Melissa because I know how much you enjoy your mystery novels. Have you read Dangerous Girls, by the way? Now, that's a very well-written YA mystery.
    Thanks for the honest review, Melissa.

    1. I haven't read Dangerous Girls, but I'm adding it to my list now! I wanted so badly to love this one, but it just felt so hollow to me, unfortunately.

  3. Aww...I'm so sad this was a disappointment Melissa! :( I can definitely see where you're coming from though...if you have trouble connecting to the main character or the supporting characters, it can definitely ruin your experience with the story. I think I'm going to give this one a miss as I like my mysteries to be complex and full of twists, and this just doesn't sound like it gives off that vibe from what you've said in your review.

    Thank you so much for sharing, and, as always, BRILLIANT review! <3

    ~ Zoe @ The Infinite To-Read Shelf

  4. Oh I'm so sorry that you weren't able to enjoy this book more Melissa, it really does sound like the premise has the potential to deliver a decent read. But I think I too would find the lack of depth and focus in the story a bit flat too. Thank you for your honest review, I hope the next book you decide to pick up by Jayne a lot more enjoyable!

  5. I get you, I'm constantly on the lookout for a good mystery that will leave me reeling and will stay with me. I find that it's pretty rare that one crosses my path though, unfortunately! It has certainly been a while... it's too bad about this one because it really does sound like it had the makings of a good mystery thriller. But plot and characters are both key so I'm not surprised you weren't a fan of this one if those elements weren't well developed. I guess I'll pass on this one then - really appreciate the genuine review, Melissa!


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