Sunday, 28 April 2013

Review: Dare You To by Katie McGarry

Title: Dare You To (Pushing the Limits #2)
Author: Katie McGarry
Release date: May 28th 2013
Publisher: Harlequin TEEN
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley

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....

I don’t even know where to start. Pushing the Limits was my favourite 2012 contemporary, and I jumped up and down in my head when I found out Dare You To was on NetGalley and got accepted to read it! I read Dare You To back at the beginning of January (and also wrote this review then) and I’m still impatiently waiting for the next book. Dare You To was everything I wanted it to be, and I really loved reading from Beth’s point of view. Katie McGarry has done it again, and I’m sure Dare You To is definitely going to be up there in my favourite 2013 contemporaries at the end of the year!

Dare You To follows Beth Risk as she overcomes her personal obstacles and learns to trust. We get to alternate between Beth and Ryan’s points of view. Yeah, Ryan, and not Isaiah. When I first found out that Beth’s love interest was some new guy, I was devastated. I loved Isaiah in Pushing the Limits, and I really wanted him to end up with Beth. After reading Dare You To, I get why they didn’t end up together, but I still feel so sorry for Isaiah! In fact, a couple of my favourite quotes from Dare You To involve him and Beth –
With one touch, Isaiah could ground me. Keep me from floating away with his arms as my anchor. His steady beating heart the reminder he would never let go.
I’m still here in this house in the room with too many windows. I’m still exposed – raw – and living in hell. But I have Isaiah and he’s anchoring me. I slide down the wall until I can curl into a right ball on the floor. “I need you.”
“I’m here.” And we sit in silence.
You’d think Beth and Isaiah would end up together after reading these quotes, wouldn’t you? Well, prepare to be surprised! But even though I originally wanted them to be together, I think Beth and Ryan make a great couple too. They actually complement each other because of their differences. And in a way, they aren’t that different. You’ll find that out when you read the book! Yes, I said ‘when’ and not ‘if’. Because you’ve got to be crazy not to read this!

If you’ve read Pushing the Limits, you already know what a badass Beth is. In Dare You To, we find out just how much of a badass she is. And she really shocked me! She’s so blunt and fearless. She’s really tough, and no one wants to mess with her. It was weird seeing a vulnerable part of her come out during the course of this book, but it also made her seem more normal. Beth has had a terrible past – even worse than what Echo had in Pushing the Limits. Echo’s traumatic past was a one-time experience, but Beth’s was ongoing for the most part of her childhood. I can’t even begin to imagine what it was like for her, having to take care of her constantly drunk mother as well as deal with her mother’s abusive boyfriends. And all of that when she was just a kid! It’s amazing, it really is. It shows how strong and resilient Beth is, and that she never gives up. It shaped her to be the tough girl she is in this book, but it also taught her not to trust anyone. But then Ryan comes along and turns her whole life inside out.

Ryan, I’ll admit, I didn’t like much at the beginning. Mostly because I was still stuck on Beth being with Isaiah. But I grew to really like him, because he really was a great character. He was funny, sarcastic, but also serious and very protective of Beth, even when he didn’t like her. Plus, we find out a lot about Ryan, things that made me like him even more. He has a secret talent that no one knows about, and that causes a rift between him and his dad. It causes him to make huge life-changing decisions, and I really admire him for the choices he makes in this book.

Isaiah is also quite prominent in this book, because he’s Beth’s best friend. He looks out for her, and my heart breaks when I think of all the things he’s done for her. There was one scene between Isaiah and Beth that made me tear up. I won’t say what it is, because I’m sure you’ll figure it out when you read it. Isaiah made some poor decisions, though, concerning Beth. I didn’t agree with them, and I realize that in the end they’re just not meant to be together. However, I’m so stoked to read Isaiah’s story in the next book, Crash Into You! I hope he’ll finally get his happy ending, too, because I desperately want that.

I was really excited to see Noah and Echo in Dare You To, as well! I wish they’d had bigger roles in it, but I was content to just see them there. Noah is still my favourite character in this series, and I loved him even more after reading Dare You To. We see how much he cares about Beth, and how much he wants her to have a good life, even if that means she’s not a part of his anymore. Echo was seen much less, but her quirky personality still shone through. It was funny to see how Beth still didn’t like Echo after everything that happened in Pushing the Limits, and no matter how much Echo wanted her to. She became a lot more tolerant of her later on in this book, though.

I was surprised to find that I really connected with Beth, even though I can’t possibly imagine everything she went through, and I definitely can’t empathize with her. I can sympathize, though, and I did so throughout the novel. I even started feeling what she felt! I felt her anger at her classmates in the new high school and with Allison, her uncle Scott’s wife. I felt her frustration at being forced to start over in a place with very different childhood memories. I felt her helplessness as she constantly watched her mother destroy her own life. I felt her happiness, her sorrow, her love – all of it. Beth Risk is truly one of the best YA protagonists I’ve ever read about.

This book is filled with awesome characters, all of them unique in their own way. I took an immediate liking to Lacy, Beth’s former best friend back when her life was normal and she wore ribbons in her hair (can you imagine Beth wearing ribbons? Yeah, I can’t, either!). Lacy is kind of a tomboy, and she doesn’t take crap from anyone. I honestly think the guys she hangs out with are scared of her, including her boyfriend, Chris! Lacy is the reason the others really gave Beth a chance, and I loved how incredibly loyal Lacy was to Beth even after so many years of silence and separation.

Scott is another character I loved. He’s Beth’s uncle, the one who got her out of jail and brought her to live with him and his wife in Groveton, where Beth used to live – where she had a normal life up until the third grade. Scott is only twelve years older than Beth, so most of her memories of him, well, don’t really apply anymore. Beth is surprised to find that her cool and boyish uncle has settled down and gotten married, and she’s even more surprised that he’s acting like a grown up. But she hasn’t forgiven him, and the tension between them is really thick for most of the novel. I really liked Scott because he truly cares for Beth and he’s remorseful about his actions in the past. He’s a good guy, and an amazing pro baseball player, too! Beth’s lucky to have an uncle like him, and she realized that by the end of the book.

The plot of Dare You To has so many twists and turns. It’s full of suspense and action, as well as some really sweet moments in between. There are also a lot of unexpected surprises. I guarantee some heartbreak and tears, though, but they’re worth it. Katie McGarry is now one of my favourite authors, and I will read anything written by her. Anything! The way she writes, the way her words get inside you and make you feel like you’re part of the story… it’s incredible!

Overall, Dare You To is mind-blowing, and it’s one of those books that just stays with you long after you’ve read it. It’s also one of those books that you can re-read over and over again and still feel all those emotions like you’re reading it for the first time. Katie McGarry, I want to thank you for writing the beautiful masterpiece that is the Pushing the Limits series! Dare You To took me on a whole new journey, and I loved every second of it.

*Thank you to Harlequin UK for providing me with an eGalley for review*

Rating: 5/5

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