Release Date: May 28, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Pages: 456 pages
Source & Format: Library; Hardcover
Series: Pushing the Limits #2
Amazon | Goodreads
Summary (from Goodreads)
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...
Thoughts on Dare You To
I liked but didn't love Pushing the Limits, the first book in this series of companion novels. But I knew I wanted to continue on to Dare You To when I realized that Beth was the main character. She was rude and prickly in the previous book, but something about her just intrigued me. She wasn't a nice, likeable girl... and sometimes I just really enjoy those characters.
It could also be due to the fact that I wasn't crazy about Echo or Noah, so I was really interested in the secondary characters in their book. Beth attracted my attention because she's so different from the typical YA girl. I know that some people went into this book with the opposite feelings - wondering if they'd appreciate her story because they hated her in Pushing the Limits. I hope they discovered what I did, which is that Beth has an awesome story to tell and is a character you absolutely want to get to know better.
As with the previous book, Dare You To is told from two perspectives. This time, the story focuses on bad girl Beth and golden boy Ryan. The two meet at a fast food place, but they don't exactly get off on the right foot. Ryan's friends dare him to try and get Beth's number, and he takes the bait. The result? I'm sure you can guess what this rebellious, stand-offish girl had to say to him. They both figure they'll never see each other again... but they couldn't be more wrong.
Beth is fleshed out in this book - her edges are softened and her actions make more sense as you understand her history. She's a dark character with an attitude that just pushes everyone away. And if she can't push you away, she'll find a way to run. Beth's uncle forces her to leave her mother and her old life behind and come live with him. He knows Beth and her mother are keeping secrets, and he threatens to pull the thread that will unravel everything by telling the police what they're hiding. Desperate and backed into a corner, Beth agrees to live with him and his new wife. But she's certainly not happy about it.
Based on what happened in Pushing the Limits, I was surprised that the boy in this book was a new character. Honestly, I'd kind of expected to read about Isaiah. But I should have known McGarry would have something wonderful up her sleeve! Ryan is the perfect child, student, teammate... I could go on. Everyone has expectations for him, and he spends every day trying to make sure he lives up to them. His family thrives on their appearance of perfection, but all is not as it appears in the Stone household.
Family relationships play an important role in Ryan and Beth's story. For Beth, she has an unhealthy relationship with her loser of a mother. Her mom is an addict with terrible taste in men, and Beth has suffered the consequences of her mother's choices on more than one occasion. It broke my heart to watch Beth fight for her mom, to do her very best to take care of her, and have her heart repeatedly broken. There's a reason this girl is so harsh, and it's got a lot to do with the way she's been hurt. I think a lot of her actions are motivated by the need to hurt others before they have a chance to hurt her. Ryan, on the other hand, has parents who love and care about him. Outsiders would probably hold their family up as role models, but there are cracks hiding beneath the surface that threaten to reveal everything they've been hiding.
Friendship is also has a place in the book - with Ryan's close-knit group of guys and with the friends Beth can't leave behind. Come on, you didn't think she could just forget about Noah and Isaiah, did you? I also loved how a friend from Beth's past proves her loyalty and shows Beth that she's not alone. They weren't a focus in the book, but I loved they way they were included and were present. Ryan and Beth do not exist in an isolated world - I appreciated how they interacted with their friends and family members.
My biggest frustration with Pushing the Limits was the sheer amount of drama going on, so I was so happy with the fact that it was edited down a bit in this one. There is still conflict and tension in Dare You To, but it felt more realistic and believable to me. I was racing through the pages of this book and dying to find out what was going to happen. The stakes are high, and I really loved the way McGarry handled it all. I felt like I was WAY more emotionally invested in this story and the characters, which made me love it all the more. The sad, emotional parts made the resolution and conclusion all the better.
And now let's take a moment to talk about the romance. Honestly, y'all, I loved Ryan. He's not the standard jock character, and I liked that he was a little bit hard to read at first. There are moments between the two of them that easily could have felt cheesy or dumb, but I just found them so compelling that it didn't affect my enjoyment of the book at all. I was totally rooting for these two characters, and I love stories where opposites attract.
Having read her books back-to-back, I do think Dare You To ironed out a few of the issues that bothered me in Pushing the Limits. It retains what I would consider McGarry's signature - complex characters and dramatic stories - but overall felt like a stronger execution. I didn't 100% get it with the first book, but I totally fell in love with this one. I had a book hangover after closing Dare You To - and I told Betty and Cassie that I was mad I didn't pace myself better. I'm so glad I gave this book a chance because it definitely made me a McGarry fan!
"That must be love: when everything else in the world could implode and you wouldn't care as long as you had that one person standing beside you."