Wednesday, April 24, 2013

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

Dare You To (Pushing the Limits #2)

Author: Katie McGarry

Publication Date: May 28, 2013

Pre-order on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Synopsis: 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.

Brought to you by TeamNerd Reviews Annabell Cadiz

Side Note: Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Review: After reading Pushing the Limits, I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted to read the next book. I hadn’t liked most of what happened in the first book but I had liked both Beth and Isaiah, so I was interested to see how their story would progress. Dare You To did manage to be a far better read than Pushing the Limits and offered a better story.

Beth has never had an easy life and life is about to throw her a huge curveball. Beth’s mother’s latest boyfriend, Trent, loves two things in his life: drugs and punching both Beth and her mother any chance he gets without any real reason to. Beth’s mother finally gets fed up and takes a bat to his car. Trent finds her and starts beating the crap out of her for it so Beth grabs the bat, ready to finally put Trent in his place, when the police show up. Beth takes the fall for the destruction to the car since her mother is on probation. But instead of being released to her mother, Beth finds out she’s going home with her uncle Scott—an uncle she hasn’t seen since she was a kid. Scott gives her an ultimatum: Beth goes home with him, changes school, changes friends, forgets her old life without causing too much chaos or he’ll tell the police the secret of what he found in Beth’s mom’s apartment. Beth gives in wanting to protect her mother. But Beth’s life isn’t the only one that changes. When she gets to the town of Groverton, she comes face to face with Ryan, not only the guy who tried to get her number on a dare from his friends, but the king of the high school. He’s the star baseball player, has parents are revered by the town, and is beloved by all. But like Beth, Ryan is hiding his own secrets and they may be just what each other needs to find the courage to overcome what they’re too afraid to face on their own.

I liked Beth—at least the beginning. She’s fierce as hell, has a sassy mouth and tough attitude. She’s a broken girl who comes from a past filled with hate, anger, and loads of pain. I could empathize with Beth’s inability to trust people and her absolute fear to let anyone close to her. I could admire Beth’s direct and honest approach with people when expressing what she really thought about them. But Beth only plays the part of being strong because in reality she’s very much a coward. She runs from everything. She never faces up to anything until practically the end of the book and that’s only because she almost gets both herself and Ryan killed for being an idiot. Beth spends the entire book either acting like she doesn’t care about what anyone thinks about her or acting like she’s not good enough to be loved because she comes from a hard life. It just got tiring to constantly hear the same thing over and over again.

Ryan was a pretty realistic character. He has a dysfunctional family that hides the truth about their troubles under fake smiles and well-polished clothes. I could relate to Ryan’s struggles with his parents. Having to watch their marriage falling apart and dealing with how controlling they were trying to be about his life or how he kept trying to be what everyone needed but never really knew who he was. Ryan is cocky, stubborn and bossy but he’s also sweet, caring, and determined. I liked certain aspects to Ryan and what he did for Beth but there were many moments he came off possessive and other moments where he came off weak. He lets himself take blame for Beth’s decisions when they aren’t his fault and spends the entirety of the book never standing up to his parents until the end.

Isaiah has some scenes throughout the book but acts mostly as Beth’s bodyguard and voice of reason than potential romantic partner for Beth. I really liked Isaiah from Pushing the Limits and I’m glad the book didn’t go down the usual path of having the two best friends fall in love and be together. Noah and Echo have a few mentions here and there which didn’t really do anything to either hinder the story or progress it.

Like Pushing the Limits, Dare You To attempts to deal with a LOT of issues in the span of a short time and like the first book, it passes over important moments far too quickly and focuses too much on the angst. Beth makes a lot of decisions that are just plain stupid and manages to put herself and others around her in danger because of them. It became tiring. The story doesn’t focus enough on Ryan’s family problems, especially with what happened with his brother Mark, or on Beth’s relationship with her uncle Scott and his wife, Allison. I would have liked to have read more interaction with Scott and Beth, seen them grow and learn to forgive and understand each other better. Scott was a really good character. He becomes the father figure Beth always needed.

Allison was by far the worse character in this book but I think that only happened because her character wasn’t developed and her reactions, attitudes and feelings weren’t adequately ever explained. Gwen, Ryan’s ex-girlfriend and head cheerleader, takes second place. She was the cliché popular girl who gets jealous her ex-boyfriend wants to date someone so different than her. She was supposed to come as this character the reader should sympathize with and empathize with her actions because she’s supposed to really care for Ryan, but she was never believable outside of being a HUGE witch.

The plot mainly focuses on Beth and Ryan and their developing romance. I could appreciate that they started off as enemies and learned to build a friendship steadily before falling into any sort of romantic relationship, despite the fact that it’s started with the cliché of a dare. There’s a great deal of repetition and the obvious constantly being stated though. The amount of times Beth throws her temper tantrums and runs off was ridiculous! It felt like going in a circle with her character over and over again throughout the entire book. She just never learned her flippin’ lesson until she nearly got killed!

Dare You To was a far more enjoyable read than its predecessor and offered a more realistic approach to the romance and struggles in many ways, so if you’re a fan of the first book, you’ll mostly like fall for this one. 

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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