Monday, July 15, 2013

REVIEW: "Dare You To" by Katie McGarry

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

Goodreads -- Amazon -- Book Depository
Author Website

For Ages 15+
Young Adult -- Contemporary
Harlequin Teen -- May 28, 2013
Ebook, 480 pages
Purchased from Amazon

Opposites Attract, Tormented Heroine, Family Problems

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.

I'm not interested in second place.

I really loved Katie McGarry's debut, Pushing the Limits, when I read it earlier this year and was excited to see what she did next.  I was intrigued by Beth's character in the first book and wanted to know more about her.  I will admit I was hesitant about Dare You To because of the fact that Isaiah was not going to be her hero and that I wasn't sure if McGarry could repeat the same magic in a second book.  But, my fears were for naught because I found this book to be just as moving and entertaining as its prequel though it was very different in tone.

Beth Risk was a difficult character to understand in Pushing the Limits.  All readers knew about her was that her mother had an abusive boyfriend and that it was greatly effecting her life.  I thought Beth was hard to connect with at first. She has major trust issues which comes across even in her narrations.  In this book, she gets into some trouble and is forced to move in with her paternal uncle who she hasn't seen in almost ten years.  But, I did get used to her voice and really came to care for her by the end.  She is a teenager who has had a rough life and is reacting to it in a realistic fashion.

Ryan Stone, at first glance, seems to have the perfect life with his good grades and skills on the baseball diamond.  But, it becomes obvious that things are falling apart for him.  His parents's marriage is on the brink of disaster and no one talks about his estranged older brother who is away at college.  He is attracted to Beth from the moment he met her and did everything he could to gain her trust.  I really fell in love with Ryan.  He isn't tortured in the same way that Noah from Pushing the Limits, but still vulnerable.  I came away from the book just thinking that he was a decent guy who wanted the people he cared about to be happy.

Beth and Ryan's relationship is an example of opposites attract and is a classic YA storyline with the jock guy falling for the biker girl.  But, despite the stereotypical shell, their romance was pretty complicated and sweet.  Their chemistry is obvious from the moment they meet even if it that moment was full of attitude on both sides.  I liked watching them slowly become friends and then so much more.  The biggest obstacle for these two was trust, especially on Beth's part, and it was nice to see it develop.

Like in the first book in the series, Dare You To has a great cast of secondary characters that help provide background for the main romance.  I particularly enjoyed the way that McGarry depicted Noah's friend, Isaiah, who has to deal with his crush on Beth not going the way that he would hope.  I am definitely looking forward to seeing him get his story in November.  It was nice to see cameos of Noah and Echo who are just as adorable as they were at the end of their book.  I also loved meeting Beth's uncle, Scott, who had quite a backstory of his own and all of Ryan's friends especially Lacy.

Overall, I was really impressed with Katie McGarry's sophomore effort.  Her writing style is as entertaining and thought-provoking as before and she really show her character development skills with her depiction of Beth.  I highly recommend this book for fans of mature YA contemporaries!

4.5 Stars

She raises a skeptical eyebrow, but accepts the bottle.  "It's our rain Beth." Her head barely shakes to show her confusion while I rub the back of my neck and search for my courage. "I told you I loved you in this rain and when you doubt my words, I want you to look at this bottle.”

1. Pushing the Limits
1.5. Crossing the Line
2. Dare You To
3. Crash Into You (Coming November 2013) 

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