Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Book Review: Pushing the Limits (Pushing the Limits Series, #1) by Katie McGarry

Pushing the Limits (Pushing Limits Series, #1)

Author: Katie McGarry

Purchase on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Synopsis: No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with "freaky" scars on her arms. Even Echo can't remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal. But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo's world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible.

Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she'll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again.

Brought to you by TeamNerd Reviewer Annabell Cadiz

Review: Pushing the Limits was a mixture between a decently written Lifetime movie and a Spanish soap opera. One part emotionally well-executed and one part too over wrought with dramatics. 

Echo Emerson has a lot on her plate to deal with. Her older brother died in Afghanistan, her father married her babysitter and she’s having a baby, her mother has bipolar disorder and Emma is forbidden to see her due to a near death incident that happened between the two, and her social status among her friends is pretty nonexistent. A girl can only carry so much before she decides she’s had enough. Echo is attempting to just coast through every day and get through the court-mandated therapy she has to do. She doesn’t expect to develop a friendship with Noah Hutchins, the hot bad boy whose reputation plagues him like a nasty virus. Noah has his own stressed out, hell of a mess of a life to deal with. He is desperately trying to find a way to reunite with his two younger brothers who were thrown into the foster care system along with him when their parents died in a house fire a few years back. Noah is struggling to make sure he can graduate and become manager at his job, so he can save enough to afford an apartment and get full custody of his brothers. Then Echo walks into his life as his tutor and his plans change in a way he had never considered. Neither he nor Echo planned on finding refuge in each other and especially not love.

Now, when you go into reading Pushing the Limits, you have to remember it’s a Young Adult Romance which means you can go in already expecting to encounter a few things: the good girl falling for the bad boy, the absentee parents, the popular kids being annoying to the tenth degree, and the angst (and oh how there was angst in this book! I’d say it could to go toe to toe in that department with the hated Twilight series).

The two main characters play the parts they have been given but Noah outshines Echo by a long shot. Echo is broken and lonely and desperately in need of love. The same as with Noah. But Echo’s character is incredibly selfish, gullible, and judgmental. It takes her the entire length of the book to realize that she has spent the entire book mainly focused on her needs and her pain, when those around her who really loved her where in as much pain and had suffered as well. She was denying herself love by her own hands not because none of them didn’t actually love her. She wants a life of normalcy but her idea of that is let her be bossed around by her friends, the “popular” group and treat her like she’s only good enough if she lives up to who she used to be before the accident. At the beginning, it was understandable because of everything she had been through but after the halfway mark, enough was enough already. It was pathetic how often and how much Echo never changed or how much she let her friends dictate her life.

Noah is a bad boy and I’m talking about the REAL version of a bad boy. The bad boy who is sexy not just physically but even down to the clothes he wears and the confidence he exudes. The bad boy who can charm a woman out of her clothes with come hither look or whisper in the ear. I’m NOT talking about what’s become acceptable bad boy material in YA/NA fiction now: the guy who is gorgeous but controlling and possessive and manipulative and ABUSIVE. Noah is NONE of those things and it was so REFRESHING to read. He may have a crappy foster care family and smokes weed and switching girls like someone would socks (which is NOT right), but he NEVER disrespects Echo. He treats Echo ALWAYS with respect, compassion, and patience. Even when he doesn’t understand her or her actions. Noah GROWS through the book where Echo never seems to be able to until the end. Noah goes from a playboy to a man who learns how to love and be changed by it.

There are a slew of secondary characters. Noah has two best friends, Isaiah and Beth, who I liked way more than I did Echo's best friends, Grace and Lila. None of the characters were really developed too well and none of them had any real growth. But Isaiah and Beth were at least real about who they were and Isaiah is a nice kid with a cute personality. Grace was by far the WORSE best friend! I couldn't imagine calling someone like her a friend ever. She's only willing to be Echo's friend when they are behind closed doors but in front of others, she can't be Echo's friend because Echo is considered a freak and the scars on her are too ugly to be worthy of her friendship. It's just ridiculous!! I couldn't understand why Echo kept going back to her. Lila was better than Grace in the friendship department but even if she treated Echo like she was freak until closer to the end when she finally gets the guts to stand up for her friend.

The way the bipolar disorder was handled didn’t sit well with me. Echo’s mother was diagnosed with bi-polar when she was younger and after Echo’s brother dies, she gets worse and stops taking her meds. She ends up almost killing both herself and Echo to be with her brother. Echo’s mom is painted as a sociopath who is selfish and hateful which was a horrible way to showcase what bipolar is like for a person or turns a person into. There was never any real depth to her character. The story never took the time to show what someone with a mental illness endures and how difficult that can be. Echo’s mom is just seen as this evil person right from the beginning but in reality, she was a woman who was dealing with something incredibly difficult.

The book is longer than it needs to be. FAR longer. That’s where the angst kicks in. It’s just pages and pages of over dramatized, angst with overdone dialogue and not really much plot depth. There was also a great deal of repetition and stating the obvious that could have been done away with.

Despite the obscene level of clicheism and predictabcality throughout the entirety of the novel, Pushing the Limits has it's moments were it shined, particularly when it came to Noah's character and the building of suspense when it came to Echo remembering what happened to her. 

Fans of the Young Adult Romance genre will probably enjoy this book more than others. But for fans of the genre who have been there, read that, you may want to look elsewhere to get your fix for something new and different.

About the Author: KATIE MCGARRY was a teenager during the age of grunge and boy bands and remembers those years as the best and worst of her life. She is a lover of music, happy endings, and reality television, and is a secret University of Kentucky basketball fan.

Where to Find the Author

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