October 10, 2013

When The World Implodes

Dare You To by Katie McGarry

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!

So Quotable
"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."

14 comments:

  1. HECK YEAH!!!! So glad you wound up loving this one! #MCGARRYFANGIRL status ;)

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    1. #TOTALMCGARRYFANGIRL

      Thanks for making me read her books :)

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  2. I'm so glad that you liked Dare You To. I did like Pushing the Limits more, but only slightly. I just loved Echo and Noah. I never hated Beth in PtL, but I was nervous about if McGarry would be able to make me care about her. But she did, effortlessly. And Ryan is pretty dreamy.

    I cannot wait to read Crash Into You. I have it from Netgalley, but haven't started it yet.

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    1. Cassie and Betty both liked Pushing the Limits more, too, but they weren't surprised I liked this one better. Since I didn't really connect to Noah and Echo, I had a feeling these characters would work better for me.

      Crash Into You is SOOOOOOOO good! Probably my favorite of the three :)

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  3. I really wish more people who didn't love PTL read DYT. You are so right when you say the drama was toned down, and the book just read so much better. I really enjoyed PTL but I could relate to the characters in DYT and that made a huge difference for me. I'm so excited for the third installment. Katie can really write, and I think she is just so perfect for her imprint.

    :)

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    1. I know! I feel like a lot of people who didn't love PTL would enjoy DYT so much more. It was still dramatic, but the drama felt more believable and less over-the-top. I loved these characters way more, too, which definitely helped. Crash Into You is sooooo good! And you're right - McGarry really is perfect for her imprint and can write some really great characters!

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  4. Word. I feel you on the hangover after finishing this --- I was like ugh, what do I read next! It was awful.

    I loved PTL, but am glad she toned down the crazy drama in DYT!

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    1. YES. Major book hangover after this one.

      And glad you agree on turning down the drama!

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  5. I totally get what you mean about the drama overload in Pushing the Limits. That didn't bother me so much. I just felt like Noah and all of the terms of endearment were too much.

    And it's weird because I didn't like Beth so much in Pushing the Limits. I was interested in her family situation but she was a little too confrontational for me. I mostly picked up Dare You To because everyone said it was as good/better than Pushing the Limits/sans too many terms of endearment. They were right and I love.

    I'm a little nervous to read Crash Into You, though. I hear the terms of endearment are back. But I think Isaiah is the one of the three friends I was most interested in. So I guess I HAVE to read!

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    1. Noah and the terms of endearment also got on my nerves. It was honestly a combination of it all. If Noah had been less cheesy, I think the drama wouldn't have bothered me as much. As it was, the whole thing ended up annoying me at times.

      I know I was outside the norm for being intrigued by Beth in PTL! I liked her (and Isaiah) so much more than the main characters hahah :) Glad we both gave this one a try and enjoyed it a lot more!

      I actually LOVED Crash Into You. The terms of endearment weren't as grating as they were in PTL, so they didn't bother me as much. I loved Isaiah and Rachel too much to care haha!

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  6. I totally loved Dare You To more than Pushing the Limits, too. I also said in my review that I appreciated that there was less drama in Dare You To, but it's such a weird thing to say because there's a lot of drama in Dare You To between Beth's mom and her mom's boyfriend, Beth's bitchy aunt, and Ryan's homophobic/snobby family. I think that just speaks to how much over the top drama there was in Pushing the Limits. Great review!

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    1. Glad I'm not the only one! And yeah, it's definitely fun to say there is "less drama" in this one - because there is totally still a lot going on in it. And I agree that it just speaks to how much more out of control the drama was in PTL. Glad this one was a more enjoyable read for both of us!

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  7. YES! I am SO glad that you love Dare You To. While I sincerely enjoyed Pushing the Limits, Dare You To was the book that sealed my fate as a McGarry fan. I absolutely loved Beth and Ryan! Exploring their stories and their romance was absolutely WONDERFUL.

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    1. Agree with ALLLLLL OF THIS! I probably didn't enjoy Pushing the Limits as much as you did, but I just fell in love with this book. I thought Beth and Ryan's individual stories and their relationship/romance, too. EEEK! So many feelings after reading this book <3

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