Review: Dare You To by Katie McGarry

Posted May 30th, 2013 in book review / 16 comments


Pushing the Limits Series #1

by Katie McGarry

Publisher: Harlequin Teen (May 28, 2013)
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Young Adult
Format: eBook (462 pages)
Source: NetGalley, for honest review
Purchase: Amazon Print | Amazon Kindle | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Rating: ★★★★½ (4.5 stars)

Ryan lowers his lips to my ear. “Dance with me, Beth.”

“No.” I whisper the reply. I hate him and I hate myself for wanting him to touch me again….

“I dare you…”

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…

At A Glance
Though I liked Pushing the Limits a little better than Dare You To, I still felt like I was in book nirvana the whole time.

The Good
I feel like I’ve died and gone to book heaven. Katie McGarry knows how to bang out an awesome book. I have to admit, young adult can get on my nerves sometimes. But Katie knows how to write young adult for people of all ages. The emotion, the chemistry, the passion. It all comes together to pack one hell of a punch.

Beth’s life has been anything but perfect. She has spent her life protecting her drug addict mother from everything, especially her mother’s abusive boyfriend. But when Beth is forced to choose between letting her mother go to jail or taking the fall herself, she chooses the latter. Now forced to live with her Uncle Scott, who she feels abandoned her to her life of misery years ago, Beth has to learn to live in a new town, go to a new school, and learn to trust the people who love her.

Saying Beth is troubled is putting it lightly. She smokes pot, drinks, and gives people a hard time before they have a chance to hurt her. She is defensive because she feels like everyone has ulterior motives. That’s what she is use to. I have to admit, Beth was hard to like sometimes because her attitude was pretty bad. But she was somewhat justified to be angry at the world. No person should go through what she has. I was so happy when her Uncle Scott came to rescue her. Though I felt like he didn’t have a right to force her to change everything about herself, I’m happy he didn’t take her crap. She needed that forceful motivation to become a person she can respect. Beth really had a lot to learn in Dare You To. She had to figure out that it isn’t her job to save a mother who doesn’t want to be saved. She had to learn to love herself. Ryan was a big influence in helping Beth deal with her life and her problems. She more often than not pushes him away but he is persistent, and that’s exactly what Beth needed.  

Ryan seems perfect on the outside. His baseball future is looking bright, and he has a respected family in the community. But behind the scenes his parents barely talk to each other and Ryan’s brother is banned from the house. Ryan has a bad case of living his parents’ dreams. He loves baseball but he also likes the idea of going to college, though his father wont hear of it. The only thing Ryan does without his parents permission is crush on Beth. He knows she’s damaged, he knows he’s not suppose to like a girl like that, but he can’t help but feel drawn to her. She’s different from anyone he has ever met, and that’s refreshing. Ryan was far from perfect and didn’t treat Beth that well in the beginning, but he had some of the most beautiful moments with her that it made me fall for him. I think that’s what McGarry is so good at, taking flawed characters and making you love them despite their downfalls.

I loved how the sparks flew every time Beth and Ryan got together. You just knew they would fight and clash in every possible way but McGarry made you crave every disagreement, every confrontation. You wanted to yell at them when they hurt each other and you wanted to jump in joy when they finally let the world disappear and focused only on each other. The push and pull between these two was nerve-wracking but exciting. Their relationship was beautifully imperfect, and that’s how I like it.

The writing was amazing. I could let McGarry’s poetic writing enrapture me every day. She can drag emotion out of the most cold-hearted person. The action was even good with some scary fight scenes. It was hard to watch the physical and verbal abuse though, but it gave the book depth. I am still sad that Isaiah doesn’t get his happy ending. He deserves someone special.

Also, Echo and Noah from book one make an appearance in this book which I loved.

The Bad
I was a little sad that this wasn’t Beth and Isaiah’s story. I love Isaiah. But Ryan did grow on me. I don’t think I am the only one who thought Beth and Isaiah were going to get together.

I do feel like Ryan and Beth were less likable than Echo and Noah. They have to grow on you is all.

The Snuggly
The romance was pretty hot but still YA-ish. It was hard for me to picture Ryan and Beth together at first, but they definitely had chemistry. Expect kissing, touching, and a minimal sex scene. And I have to say, the sex scene made me laugh. Let’s just say it was realistic and I liked that, but it still made me giggle.

Final Thoughts
Even though Pushing the Limits was better, Dare You To was an amazing sequel. I loved reading every minute of this book. McGarry blasts us with emotion and raw character development to epic proportions with Dare You To. I think every McGarry fan will love this story. Highly recommended.

“You’re a lot like that bird in the barn. You’re so scared that you’re going to be caged in forever you can’t see the way out. You smack yourself against the wall again and again and again. The door is open, Beth. Stop running in circles and walk out.”  

“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.”  

“Beth feels likes this storm. Constant and persistent as a whole, but the more I get close and try to clutch the individual drops of rain, the more the water falls out of my hands.”  

“Quiet anger frightens me. The drunks, the idiots, the ones that rage easily – them I can handle. I know when to step out of their way. It’s the ones that hold the anger in, the men that think about what they do and how they do it, that scare me. They’re the ones that cause damage.”

Pushing the Limits Series (My Reviews):
Book #1: Pushing the Limits
Book #2: Dare You To

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16 Responses to “Review: Dare You To by Katie McGarry”

  1. Gwynneth White

    Good review. I’m also torn between the two books, but for me, Dare You To had an edged on PTL. Maybe I related to Beth more. (What does that say about me!!) Still, Katie McGarry is a truly gifted writer. Can’t wait for Isaiah’s story in Crash Into You.

  2. Ning

    Great review!! I wasn’t a big fan of the book, but I agree the characters do grow on you. I hated Ryan’s parents mostly and wished Ryan would’ve stood up to them earlier, but I’m looking forward to Isaiah’s story!!

    • Jennifer Bielman

      I agree, Ryan should have stood up to his parents earlier, but I actually liked that he was flawed in that way. That you kind of hate him before you love him.

  3. kimbacaffeinate

    Heck yes Jennifer, awesome review! I felt all of Beth’s pain and loved that Ryan who appeared perfect was flawed as well…eep I cannot wait for book three. McGarry can wrap you up in her characters.

  4. Neyra

    I actually didnt like this book to be honest. Yeah there were moments where the characters are likeable, but i didnt feel as though they made upbfor the rest of the times they werent. I agree about Scott not accepting Beth.s style as she was, but i was glad to see them start forming a relationship. And i was rooting for Isaiah the whole time!! >.< Lol

    • Jennifer Bielman

      I know, I think a lot of us were rooting for Isaiah. 🙁 Sorry to here it wasn’t your cup of tea. Hopefully Isaiah’s story will be better for you.

  5. Jaclyn Canada

    I love how you said that she had to learn to love herself. It sounds like this is a story where the changes that happened and meeting Ryan all led to that for her. It sounds fantastic and I’m so glad this one was such a great book for you. Excellent review! Jaclyn @ JC’s Book Haven.

  6. Elisa

    I need to read these, maybe they will be fun pool reads. They are on the list. Will get there soonish 🙂

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