Monday, September 2, 2013

(Review) Dare You To by Katie McGarry

Title: Dare You To
Author: Katie McGarry
Series: Pushing the Limits, #2
Published: May 28, 2013 (Harlequin Teen)
Rating: Lunch Break Read
Format: Digital ARC provided by publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Summary: 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...
When I first found out that there was going to be another book in the Pushing the Limits series and that it involved Beth, I automatically assumed it would be Beth and Isaiah's story. However, this was not the case! And while they were interesting in Pushing the Limits, I am relieved that McGarry went a different direction with Beth's story. Not to mention Isaiah's story, which will be coming out later this year!

Although I had some issues with Dare You To which I will go into in a bit, I did like it overall. Beth a rather interesting character, and I'm glad that we got to know the girl behind the fa├žade we saw in the first book. She was not always the most likable character: she was rude, judgmental, whiny, obnoxiously standoffish, and really made herself more miserable than she would've been otherwise. But I already knew this going into the book, and I wanted to know why. And while I did get some explanation for that - she had gone through a lot of tough stuff and was still dealing with it - it got old after the same reasons for her issues were repeated over and over.

And then we had Ryan, the ultra-competitive baseball player with a selfish streak. While he had his flaws, I will at least give him the fact that when he knew what he wanted, he went after it. One of my favorite moments was Beth and Ryan's initial meeting. It was hilarious! Ryan and his friend Chris - both baseball jocks - were participating in one of their apparently infamous dares. Ryan was dared to get Beth's number. As she was dressed in skater punk clothes and cursing every other word, Ryan felt less than comfortable with her at first, but at the same time intrigued.

Thus began their beautiful romance. (This is sarcasm. Just FYI.)

These two had issues from the beginning, with pride and dishonesty galore, and I never really believed their relationship. Yeah, they each thought the other was hot, and their relationship seemed to have promise at times. But I never got fully invested in them, nor was I convinced they were going to last.

If you will indulge me for a moment, pretend you know nothing about this book, these characters, the "romance," or anything of the sort. Clear your mind. Now, read this passage.
Anger erupts from deep inside and takes control. I don’t lose and I won’t lose her. Beth turns and runs for the forest. She’s fast, but I’m faster. I grab Beth by the waist, yank her to face me, tunnel my fingers into her hair, and kiss her. She tastes like fresh rain and smells like crushed roses. I don’t care that she’s not kissing back. I move my lips against hers and hug her body to mine. I love Beth and she needs to know that. Know it in her head. More importantly, know it in her heart.
Sorry-not-sorry, but that passage is NOT romantic. As a habitual romance reader, I come across a lot of angry kisses, some good, some not. But this could just as easily have been written from the prospective of some obsessed stalker who finally broke and attacked the object of his fascination. The way you show a girl you "love" (and mind, I'm using this term loosely) her is NOT by chasing her down against her will in the middle of a rainstorm at night and proceeding to assault her even when she shows no sign of acceptance or participation. We (and Ryan) just have to assume Beth's consent, which is not okay.

Another thing about Ryan was that he was apparently an amazing writer, which he felt conflicted about because his life was baseball. However, I have known several people in my life who were high school age and wrote fiction. Let me tell you, they could have written the absolute pants off of Ryan and his less-than-stellar "George" story. And they probably would have taken his shoes and given him a literary wedgie while they were at it. This is one of the very few times when I prefer telling over showing in books, because I am very rarely impressed with the examples that are given for these "gifted" YA protagonists.

Everything about this book was not bad, though, I promise! One of my favorite characters was Beth's uncle Scott, even though I was not sure about him at first. I really liked Ryan's brother. I was also very intrigued by his friend Logan, a guy who was crazy smart but also a daredevil who did not take caution even when he should have. I'm seriously crossing my fingers that McGarry is planning a book with his story, because I would be excited to read it. And although I'm not quite as in love with Isaiah as some people, I do want to see what's in store for him in the future! I also enjoyed seeing the personal growth of Beth and Ryan as the story went on, and it had a great ending.

Basically, I really wanted to love this book, and there were moments where it won me over. But overall, there were just too many problems with the book for me to fully enjoy it. I did like it. But ultimately, I found it overflowing with drama but lacking real substance.
Nothing makes you think you might need years of therapy like having to say the word breasts in front of your mother.

I wish I could think of something wittier, but at times, the plain truth is good enough.
*All quotes from an advanced review copy, and may differ from the finished version.

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