Love Is A Battlefield

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

Release Date: July 31, 2012
Publisher: Harlequin | Harlequin Teen
Pages: 392 pages
Source & Format: Library; Paperback
Series: Pushing the Limits #1
Amazon | Goodreads

Summary (from Goodreads)
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.

Thoughts on Pushing the Limits
I will start off by saying that I had little to no interest in reading this book. Since I don't read Harlequin romances, I had a feeling that even a book from their teen imprint wouldn't be for me. While I certainly want to swoon at a love story, I tend to prefer my romances to be more on the sweet than the sexy side. I say that to let you know that despite seeing a number of rave reviews for this book, I really wasn't planning on picking it up. Then (I'm sure you knew this was coming), Betty and Cassie kept talking about these books, this author and these characters. And I was intrigued...

I just couldn't help myself! I don't necessarily have the same book taste as these two, but I do trust them if they tell me that I have to read something. So, I decided to grab this one from the library and give it a shot. Because I hadn't been interested in it before, I honestly don't think I'd ever really read any reviews of it. I'd glance a blog posts that mentioned it, which meant I was going in with almost no idea of what was going to happen. So, now that you know all about my pre-conceived notions regarding this book, let's discuss what I thought when I finally read it.

Pushing the Limits is told from the perspectives of two seventeen-year-olds: Echo Emerson and Noah Hutchins. They attend the same high school, but they definitely run in different circles. And both have reputations at school. Echo is an artist, but she's seen as someone unstable. She's become an outsider in a place where she was once popular and well-liked. Her brother's death and a mysterious accident kept her out of school for a while... and things were never the same after she came back. Noah, on the other hand, has a reputation as a bad boy, a loner and a guy that gets around with the ladies. He's in foster care after the death of his parents, and some of his actions have classified him as troublemaker.

There were two big things that I didn't like about Pushing the Limits. The first was the sheer amount of drama going on. The things I mentioned above barely scratch the surface of what actually takes place in this story. Noah's been separated from his brothers and wants to get them back. Echo was so traumatized by her accident that she can't even remember what happened that night. Echo's dad is married to Echo's former babysitter... who is also now pregnant. Echo isn't allowed contact with her mother due to her past. Noah beat up one of his former foster parents. I could go on, but I'll stop there. To be honest, my biggest issue with Pushing the Limits was how over-the-top the storyline was for most of the book. There are just so many things going on, and I kept wishing that it had been pared down a little.

The second thing I disliked occasionally was Noah's voice. He calls Echo a siren, a nymph, a seductress, baby... The terms of endearment (I guess that's what they were) were just so out-of-place. I had a hard time imagining that any seventeen-year-old guy would talk the way that Noah did. He seemed so much older at times, which I guess could be attributed in some ways to the way his circumstances have aged him. Regardless, I did find myself rolling my eyes at times during his sections.

Despite those issues, I read this book really quickly once I was able to sit down and spend some time with it. I kept reading a little bit at a time because I was too busy to focus. Once I had enough free time, I found myself racing through it. There is an addictive quality to this type of book, and I think McGarry has created characters that people will feel passionately about and become invested in.

I really enjoyed that we got to see both Echo and Noah's point of view in this one, and I enjoyed seeing the way the two of them connected. I think they complemented each other nicely, and you can see how they're both pushing each other to move forward for their past tragedies. I think they were also incredibly frustrating at times, but not in an unbelievable way. It was more of an annoyance that they continued to make really stupid decisions. However, I was so caught up in the book that I kind of didn't care. Thinking back on it - there are things that bother me now that I kind of brushed aside while I was reading it because I was so immersed and caught up in their story.

In some ways, the way I feel about this book is the way I always felt about Gossip Girl (the TV show, not the books). I get so wrapped up in the story and just can't quit, but when I take a step back I start to think about just how many random, crazy, super dramatic things happen on the show and have to laugh a little. And I LOVE Gossip Girl (even in its craziness) so that's not a terrible thing. I just have to acknowledge that there are qualities about this book that remind me of the soap opera-ness of that show.

I probably sound like I hated this book, but I promise I didn't. On Goodreads, I gave it 3.5 stars. It's addictive, enjoyable and fast-paced. I loved the secondary characters in it way more than I loved the main characters, which I know isn't how everyone felt. For example, I was incredibly drawn to Beth (even in all her bitchiness) and was SO excited to find out the second book focused on her. Pushing the Limits is probably not a book I'll return to, but I completely understand why everyone loves it so much. The romance is intense, the stakes are high, and the drama is palpable. The angst was a little too much for me upon reflection, but I also couldn't put it down. It left me curious about reading more from McGarry, and there's definitely something to be said for that desire.

So Quotable
"The worst type of crying wasn't the kind everyone could see - the wailing on street corners, the tearing at clothes. No, the worst kind happened when your soul wept and no matter what you did, there was no way to comfort it. A section withered and became a scar on the part of your soul that survived. For people like me and Echo, our souls contained more scar tissue than life."


  1. I love Pushing the Limits and Katie McGarry. I'm a fan girl like Betty and Cass. There are a lot of things going on in PtL, but I never felt like it had that drama-drama-drama feel that Gossip Girl had. And I loved Noah and Echo. I loved that even though they loved each other, it didn't solve all their problems. They still had to figure things out.

    I know a few people have commented on how frustrated they were with Noah's terms of endearment, but for some reason they never bothered me. And I'm not even a terms of endearment person.

    That's just me, though.

    1. This is what I love about books and reading! Two people can have totally different experiences :) I'm SO glad to hear that you really loved this one and didn't have the same frustrations that I did. I know I'm more in the minority with this book, and I think it's partly because it's not something I'd typically read.

      Having since read McGarry's other two books, I'd now call myself a fangirl. Some of the things that bothered me in this book were mellowed or smoothed out in Dare You To and Crash Into You and now I can't wait for more from her!

  2. This book ended up being a DNF for me. I too felt like this was drama-drama-drama, but my biggest problem was Noah. The way he referred to Echo was just too much for me.

    1. Yeah, the terms of endearment DROVE ME CRAZY. It felt so out-of-place and unrealistic. I can't imagine more teen boys calling anyone a siren!

  3. I liked Pushing the Limits when I read it, and I still like it almost a year later, but I agree with you, when you step back and think about it, there's a lot of crazy drama. When I wrote my review of the follow up, Dare You To, I actually wrote that I liked it better because it had less drama, which is a crazy thing to say because that book had a lot of drama, too! And the terms of endearment that Noah used made me want to barf, I hate terms of endearment in general, but these are especially bad!

    1. Yeah, that's the thing - I really did like this book! I had fun reading it, and I certainly didn't have to force my way through it. It's just that when I sat down to write this review, I thought more about what I'd read and realized there were some things in it that kept me from loving this book. However, I did really love Dare You To and Crash Into You. They were fun - and though they were still dramatic, it didn't feel as contrived or over-the-top. And yes, terrible terms of endearment haha!


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