Monday, July 09, 2012

Review: Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

Title: Pushing the Limits
Author: Katie McGarry
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release date: July 31st 2012
Pages: 384
Genre: Contemporary YA; romance
Source: NetGalley
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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.
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I was super excited to read Pushing the Limits, and when I first started the book, I was loving it. But once Noah and Echo got together, the book kind of went downhill for me.

I loved getting to know these characters as individuals - both of their stories are fascinating! It's impossible not to feel for Echo. She's grieving her brother, who died in Afghanistan a year ago. And she's trying to remember what went down the night her bipolar mother attacked her. And her father is a control freak who has married and impregnated Echo's former babysitter. And she has to deal with the people at school being weird to her because of rumors about what happened to her. Yeah, there's definitely no lack of messed-up-ness in Echo's life, and I could easily feel for her.

Noah's life isn't exactly easy, either. He lost his parents in a house fire, for which he blames himself, and now he's stuck in the foster system. He has two little brothers who are living with another family, and Noah wants to somehow gain custody of them to put their family back together. Both Echo and Noah are majorly messed up, and I loved getting to know them as individual characters. Their stories are fascinating, and their development over the course of the story is really well done.

But I had some issues with the relationship between the two. The first attraction is well-done, and in the beginning, their chemistry is hot - I couldn't wait for them to get together. But when they did, I was disappointed. I'm not even sure why, but I didn't love these two as a couple as much as I loved them as individual characters. I think their relationship moves too fast, and their feelings for one another get too deep, too quickly. Couples that proclaim their love for each other just a few weeks after they get together frustrate me so much. Really, that's one of my biggest bookish pet peeves, and something like that can basically ruin any book, for me.

Most of their relationship is physical. Actually, that's not true - they do say they love each other for other reasons. But their attraction, the only things they ever seemed to think about, were the physical aspects of the story. And I need more than physical attraction to swoon over a romance. Maybe it's just part of his bad-boy image, but the way Noah talks about Echo particularly pissed me off. He kept calling her 'his nymph', 'his siren', or simply 'his'. He got really possessive of Echo - not as in, his possessiveness is an issue that's addressed in the story; it was just a part of the relationship, which bugged me.

I enjoyed most of the other storylines. I enjoyed reading about Echo's family issues (even though her grief is a little underdeveloped and the development at the end is too abrupt, in my opinion), as well as Noah's character growth concerning his family situation. Echo's friends could have used some more depth, but I really liked reading about Noah's friends and fellow foster kids.

I feel bad for saying this, since some of the stuff that happens really is bad, but the book definitely borders on melodramatic. There is so much drama, and some of it does feel forced. It bugged me how every little emotion is made into a huge deal, and how these characters basically refused to confront their issues and try to, you know, be happy.

I did enjoy this book and really liked the character development, but the romance didn't work for me. I do recommend this book, since I think most of the other storylines are good - I just wish the romance hadn't been the main focus. I'm a little disappointed by Pushing the Limits, but I will still be reading the companion, Dare You To, because Beth's character is one I'd like to get to know more.

What are some of your pet peeves in YA romances?


  1. This is one of my wish-list reads!!

    I like how the characters both have really troubled backgrounds and how they have a lot of growing to do as individuals.

    It's too bad you didn't like the romance once they get together (Hannah, are you a closet romance-hater?;) I'm kidding, but lots of people love the build up but once they're together they find it boring). I much prefer it when the book goes on after the main characters get together - so often we're all waiting for them to get together and then the book ends. I love seeing characters as couples. It shows so much about the nature of the relationship and their love.

    I think they get together fast because they both lost people - that changes you, I guess they think that there's no point waiting because you never know what happens. And I think they want someone they can consider family and they find that in each other.

    I hope you like the companion novel more Hannah! Great review:)

    1. Ha! No, I don't consider myself a romance hater :p I'm just kind of picky about it - needs to be done just the way I like it :) I do love the build up, but I like seeing how a relationship develops later on, too... if it's done right. That explanation does make sense - I didn't consider that while reading. Hmm...

      I have high hopes for the companion! Even if I didn't like every aspect of the story, the author did show lots of talent in Pushing the Limits, and Beth's story has a lot of potential :)

    2. Oh, by the way, I just read My Life in Black and White by Natasha Friend, that book we'd talked about a while ago, and I loved it :)

    3. I hope we see more of Noah and Echo in the companion book!

      I was just teasing about the romance-hater thing - romance is very difficult to do and please everyone. Some people love love triangles, others want old friends to become boyfriends. It depends.

      So happy My Life in Black and White is awesome! I wanted it to totally rock so much:)

    4. Yeah, romance really is hard. What you write will always be someone's pet peeve, since there's just so many opinions, and some of Noah's attitude just didn't work for me.

      Hope you get to read My Life in Black and White soon, too :)

  2. It had me on "contemporary YA". I'm loving everything from this genre recently :x

  3. PUSHING THE LIMITS does not seem to be anything terribly special & that's my biggest pet peeve with a lot of YA. I suppose I want to be in awe when I read a book.

  4. I didn't exactly have the same thoughts while reading Pushing the Limits, but I could see where you're coming from.:) Great review!

  5. Proclaiming love too fast.. *sight* I always hate it when things like that happen! It can spoil the whole book for me.. Such a shame, because they sound like interesting characters apart from each other. I'm still not sure if I'm going to read this one - I've read a lot of positive things, but this book isn't appealing to me. Thanks for the great review!

  6. this is one of my favorite YA books, I Loved the character Noah and Echo... I can't wait Beth's story too >_< so excited


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