Monday, May 5, 2014

Review: Pushing The Limits by Katie McGarry

Pushing The Limits

Author: Katie McGarry
Release: July 31st 2012
Genre: Contemporary, YA
#1 in the Pushing the Limits series
Companion novels: Dare You To (#2), Crash Into You (#3), Take Me On (#4)


No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with 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.


Honestly, I don't see why this has gotten so much hype. I mean, sure, I liked it and it was nice enough, but judging from how much everyone loved this and went apeshit crazy about how good it was, I really expected more. Maybe I was just expecting a bit too much, but ... I'm left standing here feeling a little bit disappointed.

To be honest, I was already pretty sick and tired of the clich├ęs in this story from the start. The hot, troublemaker stoner guy and the depressed, insecure, rich girl falling in love, and it's drama and scandal all around! Yay. It was this premise that has kept me from trying this out for so long, but one day, I had the heart to try it and thus, bought it. It wasn't until a few months after that however, until yesterday to be exact, that I really decided to pick this up. Why? Well, to be quite frank, because I didn't have anything better to read, and when I saw that I still had this unread, I did kind of feel like reading it.

This novel sends out a very, very wrong message. It is telling young girls, whether with or without scars, that once you have found the perfect boyfriend, everything in your life is going to fall into place, like magic. The hard truth, however, is that nobody is going to kiss your scars and wipe your tears away. No boy is ever going to fix you. The person to fix you is entirely yourself. And while this book does try to tell you that you can be your own person and stand up for yourself, especially towards the end when Echo actually has the courage and self-confidence to parade her scars around and tell her dad to shut his hole, but ... for most of the entire novel, it seemed more like Noah was the solution to all of her problems, and that really nagged at me. 

That is also why I was a little irritated at the pace Pushing The Limits set. It starts out with Noah being mean to Echo at first, kind of like in elementary school when boys used to pull your hair when they liked you, and like one or two days later they're moving into each other's personal space way too much when supposedly, they didn't even like each other. Yet. Following that, there's also the obligatory tutoring, but in reality, the bad, bad boy isn't actually that bad at school, he just doesn't care. Of course. Just, their whole relationship kind of rubbed me the wrong way right from the start and to me, it all happened a little too fast, to be honest. Around 40%, they were already whispering sweet nothings to each other and thinking "I love you"s, which, granted they're both 18, but ... still. No. You just don't think about marriage when you have been with your girlfriend for two months. I'm sorry, but I was definitely not amused. 

Now, the characters themselves were nicely done, however. Sure, they both had their moments where I could have crushed their throats because they were being really idiotic, but all in all, I think both Echo and Noah were extremely well fleshed out, and very three dimensional. I loved discovering new sides to them that were both surprising and unexpected at times, which made me like them so much more. Really, outside of their relationship, they were both remarkable characters. It's just that when they were together, they sort of ... melded together. Like they weren't two people anymore. You get me? It was almost creepy. 

Their respective side plots were interesting, albeit a little boring at times. I get it, Echo is afraid of cracking and turning insane, at the same time, she's still determined to find out about that night; I get it, Noah is trying to patch his family up as best he can, he loves his brothers etc — you don't have to remind me every ten pages. Seriously. The whole constantly repeating it made it slightly lame after a while, but I still didn't mind it. It was a reprieve from the stereotypical romance/relationship/public image plot, so I welcomed it. However, McGarry really tied these storylines up nicely and maturely, and yes, I even shed a few tears during some of the dialogue in the end, because it was simply so satisfying seeing all of it mending, not mended, but in the process of trying to come to terms with all that's happened during the course of the novel, and the revelations both Echo and Noah have come to draw. It was so, so wonderfully done and such a beautiful ending.

Ultimately, it is the ending that really saved this novel for me and turned the tides in its favor. I'm not sure I really would be looking back at this with more fondness than bitterness if I hadn't been so pleased with the ending. Pleased, but still a little disappointed nonetheless. Am I going to read Dare You To? I don't think so. Maybe I will in six months or so, but to be honest, I did not care the least bit about Beth, in fact, I kind of disliked her the entire time, so I'm really not that into reading about her happy ending. I didn't really care about any of the secondary characters, which makes it hard for me to want to read the companion novels. Perhaps I will get back to them someday, but don't hold your breath.

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