Review: Dare You To by Katie McGarry
Release date: May 28th, 2013
Series: #2 in the Pushing the Limits series (more of a companion novel, really)
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....
My review of Pushing the Limits
The cover: Hate. Ryan looks so OLD. And despite the whole rain-soaked, entangled-limbs thing, that almost kiss looks oddly tepid. And stringy wet hair ew.
The story: I was surprised by how much I enjoyed McGarry's debut, Pushing the Limits, and I'm pleased to say I enjoyed Dare You To even more. I was totally wary after the two opening chapters, because Ryan is pretty douchey and Beth is... well, Beth, but I'll just say that first chapter is very out of character for sweet, loveable Ryan, and Beth improves in leaps and bounds. Get past the beginning, guys, because then it gets good.
Like Pushing the Limits, Dare You To is told in alternating first person points of view between Beth, the spiky, tough girl we met in PTL and Ryan, baseball star and all around good guy. They meet for the first time because Ryan, perpetual winner and hater of losing, is dared by his friends to get Beth's number. Beth, 115 pounds of sass and bitchiness, shuts him down. BUT RYAN DOESN'T LOSE A BET, YOU GUYS. SO HAVE HER, HE MUST!
|It's like this movie but also so not like this movie but LOOK PRETTY BOYS|
After that, we learn so much about these two characters that it's pretty remarkable. I severely disliked Beth in Pushing the Limits for being so cruel to Echo, but being inside her head and learning about all the horrible things that have happened to her made me understand her. And watching her grow, open up, and learn to do what's best for her made me love her. Also, she's funny, sharp, and bitchy. I love the bitches. Beth is a compelling mix of confidence and self-loathing, and toughness and vulnerability.
|Beth has a way with f words.|
Beth's mom is a drug-using alcoholic, has an abusive boyfriend, and is an all around terrible parent. Beth will do anything to protect her mother, even get arrested in her stead when Mom of the Year beats in her abusive boyfriend's windshield. Oh, Beth. I understand the sentiment, but you is not that smart. Because of this, Beth goes to live with the rich uncle who abandoned her as a kid as his heinous wife who despises her. The one thing Beth is not a Skater Girl. Why does Ryan keep calling her that? She does not skate. She is a girl, though, so you're at least somewhat close.
Whatever. I'll let it go, Ryan, because you are Adorable with a capital A. Ryan is under tremendous pressure from his parents to be perfect, to be the best baseball player there ever was, to go pro, and to keep all his real emotions buried deeeep inside him. His brother recently came out as gay and their jerkhole father basically told him to never darken their doorstep again, which the brother then does not. Ryan misguidedly interprets this as his brother abandoning him, but don't worry. Ryan's not at all homophobic. He just has a lot of FEELINGS and doesn't know what to do with them... at least until he starts writing. Yes. Our sweet little Ryan is a budding fiction writer, and it gave him so many LAYERS and a source of conflict with his overbearing papa: writing or baseball?
He and Beth go through intense internal journeys both together and indivudually. Walls come down, truths are revealed (in Beth's case, truly over the top, melodramatic truths that are almost silly but still brutal). They have a lot of work to go through before they can be together, especially Beth. She's got her walls really high and her claws out. They both have to deal with hideous parents, tricky social situations, and of course all the feeeeelings between them. And they need to realize just how right for each other they are.
|But it's still worth doing. BETH WILL LEARN.|
This is a really healthy couple that end up bringing the best out in each other. AND SWOON. SWOOOON. That scene in the barn? Ribbons? A bottle of rain??? TRUST ME, YOU WILL SWOON OVER THAT BOTTLE OF RAIN. Even more swoons than Pushing the Limits, altogether more likeable and compelling leads, tons of feels, soap opera-y shenanigans, and a brilliantly executed love story. Yes. Except I loved them even more than Noah and Echo. They were cute, hot, and sweet. Definitely a romance to root for. ALSO, THERE WERE NO PET NAMES, THANK THE LORD. *side eyes Noah*
We also get to see some old friends from Pushing the Limits: Noah, Isaiah, and, briefly, Echo. Sigh. Oh, Isaiah. I don't even know. You were not my favorite in this book. I hope you can redeem yourself in Crash Into You, which I've just started. Fingers crossed for you, Izzy!
I shouldn't like these books. They include a lot of things I don't usually like: cliches, melodrama, predictability. But McGarry writes and executes them so well, and creates such fully rounded, sympathetic characters, that I'm totally swept away.