Title: Dare You To (Pushing the Limits #2)
Author: Katie McGarry
2.5 out of 5 stars
May 28, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Age Group: YA
Source: ARC provided by publisher
Dare You To by Katie McGarry is the second installment in her Pushing the Limits series. It’s a companion novel and follows the story of Beth Risk, a character we first meet in Pushing the Limits. This is a contemporary romance and this kind in particular, I tend to call “giddy books”. You know, the ones that make you feel all of seventeen again — all gigglish and sweet. Le sigh. Unfortunately, it failed to actually make me giddy.
The first thing I noticed was the page count. My arc had 462 pages. 462. No contemporary novel should be 462 pages long. That’s high fantasy. Epic romance. Not a book about a girl and a boy and a high school.
Okay enough, I’m not being fair because this does explore some very serious issues. Beth Risk is seventeen, has a drug addict for a mother, an absentee for a father, protective and loyal stoners for friends, and a once-failed rescuer for an uncle. Ryan is a football star, the son of a prominent family, and a closet writer. There’s sex, drugs, violence, law, cussing, and discrimination all wrapped up in the budding yet painfully drawn out romance between the two leading characters.
In pretty much all ways I can think of, this is your typical run-of-the-mill (dark) contemporary romance geared towards young adults. I say dark because it is slightly more graphic, both physically and emotionally, than others. McGarry definitely asked for censorship to be lifted on this one for sure.
Dare You To gives you what you want, when you want. Which isn’t really what I wanted at all. It’s predictable. It has those moments when something is said just so that a character is given yet another opportunity to profess unconditional love…yeah, you know. There are too many coincidences. The internal monologues are extensive. And the language is often cheesy. Case in point:
I hate finding faults because, obviously, as a reader I wish every book I read was perfection. But even the characters I didn’t entirely get. Beth (for good reason so really this is all me) is too high-strung, stubborn, and morbid. But it’s all understandable. She’s had a lot to deal with making her disposition difficult to warm up to. And Ryan is too good to be true — and a little contradictory. For a young man so adamant about respecting women, he certainly has no problem participating in schemes that objectify them. There’s no problem asking a girl for her number, but to say you respect females then go all night collecting their digits for game and leaving them in hope of something you have no intention of giving is a bit hypocritical. But he was sweet, I’ll give him that.
This had potential. There were issues that were engaging and I hoped McGarry would’ve focused on Beth healing herself and her life a little more than Beth finding someone to save her. Don’t get me wrong, we all need help but…sigh. I could go on and analyze and deconstruct her character but that would both spoil and bore equally. I also think that I might’ve missed a layer of understanding…or a sense of familiarity because I hadn’t read the first book, meaning that there are backstories I wasn’t privy to. Bottom line is, this was a tricky book. Most of my book friends rate this highly. I rate it average. It all depends on you.
This review also appears on Goodreads. An advance copy was provided by the publisher.