Sunday, October 13, 2013

Novel Review: Dare You To (Pushing the Limits, #2) by Katie McGarry

Rating (Out of 5): ~3-3.5
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Publisher: HarlequinTeen
Publish Date: May 28th, 2013
Spoilers?: No.

Goodreads Synopsis:

Ryan lowers his lips to my ear. "Dance with me, Beth."

"No." I whisper the reply. I hate him and I hate myself for wanting him to touch me again....

"I dare you..."

If anyone knew the truth about Beth Risk's home life, they'd send her mother to jail and seventeen-year-old Beth who knows where. So she protects her mom at all costs. Until the day her uncle swoops in and forces Beth to choose between her mom's freedom and her own happiness. That's how Beth finds herself living with an aunt who doesn't want her and going to a school that doesn't understand her. At all. Except for the one guy who shouldn't get her, but does....

Ryan Stone is the town golden boy, a popular baseball star jock-with secrets he can't tell anyone. Not even the friends he shares everything with, including the constant dares to do crazy things. The craziest? Asking out the Skater girl who couldn't be less interested in him.

But what begins as a dare becomes an intense attraction neither Ryan nor Beth expected. Suddenly, the boy with the flawless image risks his dreams-and his life-for the girl he loves, and the girl who won't let anyone get too close is daring herself to want it all....

Something Specific:

  • "Isaiah and I—we don’t do phone conversations. Never have. We watched TV. We partied. We sat next to each other—existed. How do you just be on a phone? And that’s what I need. I need Isaiah to just exist.” (Hardback, pg. 160)
  • "Living is like being chained at the bottom of a shallow pond with my eyes open and no air. I can see distorted images of happiness and light, even hear muffled laughter, but everything is out of my reach as I lie in suffocating agony. If death is the opposite of living, then I hope death is like floating.” (Pg. 205)
  • "Without another word, I print out the pages and she snatched them from my hand. I stare at her. She stares at me. ‘I’m not going to read it with you watching me. That’s weird.’” (Pg. 264) I feel this way when I read other people’s stuff, but this is also similar to how I feel when people read my stuff with me around. It’s mostly cause I’m self-conscious, but I get all weird and have to leave; I can’t be in the same room, and I don’t even want to be in the same household.
  • "'I want more from you and I’m begging you to please give me more.’”  (Pg. 306) His pain just kills me.

The Cover:

So, I have a lot to say about this cover. And it's likely I'll have a lot to say about the cover of the next book, as well.
At first, I kind of hated this cover. It's grown on me a little at this point, but I still don't really like it. For one, it's hugely embarrassing. Like, so embarrassing that even don't want to look at it. Not even cutely embarrassing, just overall embarrassing. Secondly, I don't like the pose, or the models, or something about the image. I think, maybe, it's the water, and the way it makes their clothes look... or something. I'm not even sure. I just know that I don't like it.
My least favorite part about this cover, though, is that it's everywhere. Like, I cannot get away from it. Usually, you're able to turn the book over, so the back shows, and you're good no matter what the cover is. This cover is not so. The image is on the front of the book, the back of the book, and the spine of the book. Like, in full. And then (at least on the hardback), when you take off the dustjacket, the image stretches along the full book, in one big picture. And while I liked that about the first book, and how that version of that image looked better, this one does not. So now the picture is just everywhere and no matter what I do it's right there and I cannot get away from it.
I don't know what the publisher was thinking--I mean, were they purposely trying to humiliate their readers?
Maybe that's a bit harsh, I'm sorry. And I probably only feel this way because I didn't like the picture to begin with, and then was just overwhelmed with the overabundance of it when I received the book.


Before starting this book, I was kind of terrified. Because I loved the first book, and hadn’t heard very good things about this one. So I was afraid. And kind of for good reasons, because this one was not as good as the first. Not even close.
First of all, there’s Beth. Her mother is in an abusive relationship that she can’t get out of, she’s addicted to drugs, she’s relies too heavily on her daughter, and even wants her daughter to take the blame for something so that neither she nor her boyfriend will get in trouble (because they’ll have it much worse than Beth will). She’s first living with her aunt, but then is forced to move in with an uncle she hasn’t seen in years and wants nothing to do with.
I understood some of Beth’s angst, her anger over being moved, her desperate want to help her mother. But I’m also not sure. Her family life is just messed up, and I was not a fan of her mother. I understand why some people are angry that no one seems to want to help her mother out, but I also understand the other side, and kind of just don’t even want to get into that (much like the issue with Ryan’s story being a mix of Metamorphosis and Warm Bodies. Don’t want to touch that, either).
So, Beth: not a huge fan, but she was alright. She grew by the end of the book, which was good. She was in a better place by the end of the book.
I liked her uncle, and hoped that she’d have opened up to him sooner, but it’s perfectly reasonable why she didn’t, and that turned out good. My only real problem with her uncle is that he wouldn’t let her have any part of her old life when she moved, without even discussing it with her. I mean, it would have been nice for her to get to see her old friends freely, because they weren’t part of the problem, and he should have tried to see that. Although I understand that sometimes being with any part of your old life can influence you to revert back to how you were and what you were doing.
Then there’s her uncles wife, and my main problem with her and Beth’s relationship is how it mirrors Echo’s relationship with her father’s new wife. They don’t get along very well, and they seem to be growing by the end of the book, but they don’t actually get much time to get to know each other, or like each other, in the book, and that bothers me. She’s like the hated stepmother that we see a possibly sympathetic side of, without actually getting to know them, or see them as an actual person.
Then there’s her relationship with Isaiah, and I just feel so bad for him. I’ve liked him from the beginning, and I understand his feelings for Beth, but I also understood that they wouldn’t work. And I feel bad for him because of what happened.
Next: Ryan. His home life is also not good. His parents are fighting, his brother is in college and he’s not really allowed to talk to him, for reasons that I wasn’t expecting, and really just made me hate his parents, and him a little bit. I liked how his views on the matter changed, though, and how his relationship with his brother worked out. Then he’s in baseball, and doing really good at it, and possibly going somewhere with it, but is getting conflicting views without anyone really letting him think about it.
So. He was an ass at the beginning. But he did some legitimate growing by the end of the book, and I liked that.
Someone else mentioned that they liked the characters by themselves, but not together. When I first read that, I didn’t think I would agree (because I usually love the romance), but I do. The two characters were much better on their own than together. I will admit, though, that they helped the other one grow a lot, particularly Beth for Ryan. Still, I didn’t really feel the attraction between them, the chemistry just didn’t show through the pages for me, and I had a hard time believing or connecting with them as a couple. 
This book was just not nearly as good as I was hoping it to be, even going in with lowered expectations, and that bums me out. The next book, Isaiah’s story, comes out next month, and I’m definitely planning to pick it up, though. I liked Isaiah from the start, and feel really bad for him because of what happened in this book, and am looking forward to seeing what happens to him. I’m a bit reserved about it, but am going in with an optimistic mind. The fact that it’s coming out so early makes me worried, but still.

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