Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry
For a book entitled Pushing the Limits, I expected more limits to be pushed.
The absolute best part of this novel was the characters. I literally felt like I was back at high school, dealing with people with less than perfect families, and less than perfect personalities. I like that even the minor characters have their own ambitions and back-story. No character felt like a filler. They all felt like they were living their own lives off-screen instead of characters waiting for the next act of a play. I don’t like it when characters feel like they exist for a purpose and the author doesn’t bother to disguise their plot purpose with fleshed out personalities and histories.
This author writes excellent characters. Now, I’m no teenager, so I don’t get all fan-girl over swoonworthy guys, but if I did Noah would qualify. Although he’s flawed, he’s a gem of a catch for Echo, and he stays true to his personality. Noah begins the novel as a womanizer. Although he stays loyal to Echo, I could completely see him return to his old ways after her. He doesn’t change his personality – his relationship with Echo is like a loophole that he never wants fixed. Echo, herself, has her own inner demons as her life is revealed as dysfunctional as possible, even though she appears to be so perfect on the outside – like prom queen quality. It kind of makes you wonder if those “popular” kids at your own high school really are as blessed as they appear.
What I didn’t like was the pace and limits set. There’s a lot of hype over the mystery behind what happened to Echo to gain her scars and its revealed within a few paragraphs in the last chapter. That’s about 400 pages of teasers and a lot of normal teenage issues from initial problem to reveal. It just wasn’t enough to keep me captivated throughout the entire novel. I like action, drama, and danger in the books I read. The most intense action was the teenagers breaking into Mrs. Collins’ office. The danger happened in the past. The drama was good and constant, but it wasn’t enough to carry the slow pace by itself.
As for the ending, I didn’t like it. It made complete sense for the story, but when I finished the book I just felt “eh”. There was no POW. No big bang to close the book. Everything wrapped up nicely like some Christmas gift.
But just because I didn’t like it, doesn’t mean you won’t. I only gave this book a chance cause people raved that it was the best YA novel of the summer. I don’t normally read contemporaries and even at the darker end of the contemporary spectrum, this novel wasn’t for me. If you DO like YA contemporaries, then you may just fall in love with the intertwined stories of Noah and Echo.
“I won’t tell anyone, Echo. I promise.” Noah tucked a curl behind my ear. It had been so long since someone touched me like he did. Why did it have to be Noah Hutchins? His dark brown eyes shifted to my covered arms. “You didn’t do that-did you? It was done to you?” No one ever asked that question. They stared. They whispered. They laughed. But they never asked.
So wrong for each other…and yet so right.
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.
This book is a sweet teenage novel perfect for those who love a realistic YA contemporary.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher (Netgalley) in exchange for an honest review.