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While this book was enjoyable, giving an insight into Beth (a character we met in the first book) and her life, I did not think it was as good as "Pushing the Limits". The love story of Beth and Ryan seemed a little false at first, and for those who had read the first book, it was a bit of a disappointment that Isaiah did not have his love returned. It does seem to be a habit for love triangles to be hinted at or blatantly displayed in teen books at the moment and I hope this trend soon stops.
A slightly cliched story of alternative girl and jock fall in love, it nevertheless was entertaining. There was also the typical 'slightly damaged' vibe to Beth but of course, she was redeemed by Ryan.
Overall, the book was engaging and I will certainly give the next installment a go- however, Katie McGarry will have to rescue this series and take it back to the pinnacle of Pushing the Limits.
Dare You To is actually a very entertaining novel.
The main protagonists Beth and Ryan are two polar opposites. It's very entertaining to see them meet one another and eventually become a couple. The first meeting they have is very funny and it's great to see the harsh side of Beth, eventually evolve into something much softer.
I appreciated how the author, Katie McGarry, discussed Beth's background. It's quite important to understand Beth's background to understand Beth and why she is the way she is.
I, furthermore, liked how Beth's family was brought into her life. The author presented it in a very realistic way. Beth's reaction was also very realistic. She didn't immediately like her family, but over time the way the author depicted the family and how their bond grew stronger was amazing.
However, I got somewhat bored with the novel halfway through. This was because Ryan somewhat seemed a pushover. Beth did what she did, without any regard to Ryan or his feelings - and she was immediately forgiven - or Beth either turned to someone else, instead of Ryan. At times like this, I got frustrated and felt that the novel was too long.
Furthermore, I felt that some aspects of the novel were repetitive. Especially the plot of Beth's mother. I really wish that Beth would have forgotten about her mother - It just seemed somewhat of an elongated plot. Other than that, however, the novel was quite enjoyable.
Dare You To is the 'sequel' to the very successful Pushing the Limits. I say 'sequel' because this is actually a standalone novel as part of a series of books based on different couplings from the same group of friends. This book focuses on Beth, if you've read Pushing the Limits you'll remember her as the b**** who didn't like Echo, and Ryan, a high school jock set to be a baseball pro.
Beth has just been forced to live with her rich uncle, Scott, who was very close to Beth as she grew up, but left at the age of 18 to be a pro baseball player. Beth hasn't seen him since and hasn't forgiven him for leaving and never coming back, but after she's arrested, taking the fall for her drunk mother, Scott steps in and takes custody of her. Beth resists her new life in Scott's perfect house in a town with perfect people and she resents him for taking her away from her friends (Isaac and Noah from Pushing the Limits). It turns out golden boy Ryan is her uncle's neighbour and Scott asks Ryan to show Beth around. Not wanting to do anything to upset the man who could help him with his baseball career, Ryan keeps popping up in Beth's life and won't leave her alone. What's more, Ryan and Beth have actually met before when Ryan was dared to get her number in a takeaway shop, not long before Beth's arrival. Beth hates Ryan and her new life and Ryan never loses and is determined to win this dare but neither of them bank on falling for each other.
What's great about this novel is that it deals with several different themes, not just teenage romance as it would appear. Another major theme is dysfunctional families, of which there are many. Both Beth and Ryan have incredibly dysfunctional families: Beth is living with her uncle because her drunk mother can't look after her and Ryan's seemingly perfect family are hiding the fact that their eldest son, Ryan's brother, is gay. Beth and Ryan's family backgrounds are the complete opposite of each other and yet they are somehow similar. I would say that Beth's story takes precedence in this novel as it's more complex and most of the things that happen are somehow linked to her story. These themes give the novel that extra depth and makes the novel much more interesting to read than your average romance.
Katie McGarry's writing is just as good as it's always been and she has created another brilliant novel with Dare You To. Her writing is addictive and once you get started you just can't stop reading until you reach the conclusion. Her writing can make you swoon but it can also make you feel like your heart is breaking. Once this story gets going you start to feel connected to both the main characters, Beth and Ryan, and you can't help but root for them. This story is written using alternating perspectives and the switchover between the two is seamless and frequent keeping things fresh and giving you two perspectives on every situation.
Although this was a very good novel, I wouldn't say that it's particularly original as it uses the same basic framework that Pushing the Limits and many other new adult novels use. It's predictable as the characters' reveal their plans for the future right from the beginning and it doesn't take a genius to figure out what's going to happen. The novel is also rather slow to get started and the first 50% wasn't all that interesting but I kept reading because I still wanted to find out more. Perhaps the reason that Dare You To isn't as successful as Pushing the Limits is because the subject matter that it deals with is a lot less heavy than that in PtL, therefore the as a reader you feel slightly less emotionally involved. Sure, both characters have complicated pasts (and presents) but it is the age old story of one seemingly perfect person falling in love with an outcast.
All in all, Dare You To is a fantastic novel, though not as good as Pushing the Limits. It could've done with a bit more originality but McGarry has created another fantastic novel that teens will lap up. I would highly recommend this to fans of Katie McGarry and contemporary romance.
About the book
Dare You To is a companion book in the Pushing The Limits series by Kate McGarry. It was published by Mira Ink on 7th June and the book is 352 pages long. I received this for review through Net Galley.
Seventeen year old Beth Risk has a terrible home life. If people actually knew what it was like, they'd have her mother arrested and herself into protective services. In order to stop that from happening, Beth is prepared to protect her mum at all costs. When things go terribly wrong, Beth's uncle gives her an ultimatum which forces her to live with an aunt who doesn't want her there and going to a school full of people who don't understand her.
But, there is one guy who does understand her, even though he shouldn't. Ryan Stone is the town's golden boy even though he has secrets he can't even tell his closest friends about. His friends are constantly daring Ryan to do the craziest of things and next up is asking out skater girl from the wrong side of the tracks.
Both Beth and Ryan never expected for something important to come of a dare but their sudden attraction could completely change both of their lives.
What I thought
Kate McGarry's debut novel, Pushing the Limits was one of my favourites from 2012. When I saw Mira Ink's tweet about this one being up on Net Galley, I clicked the link and requested as soon as I could! Even though this was up for review in January and the release date not until June, I didn't care. I had to start reading straight away.
Dare You To tells the story of Beth Risk, a minor character from Pushing The Limits. From what I remembered from the previous book, Beth was an absolute bitch but then I wasn't about to judge her before reading her story. As Dare You To starts, it quickly becomes clear that Beth actually is a bitch. She swears a hell of a lot, says exactly what she thinks and doesn't give a damn who she hurts by telling the truth. Strangely, I loved how Beth acted. She was a breath of fresh air and I completely loved her.
Dare You To really explains why Beth acts the way she does though. Her family life is a complete mess and after some really bad things happen, her estranged Uncle Scott comes in to rescue her. However, Beth doesn't think she needs rescuing though and hates Scott for taking her away, forcing her into a new school and a town she really doesn't want to be in. I really enjoyed seeing the dynamics of Beth's family, both immediate and not. The new characters introduced here were all fascinating in some way and they all also had secrets of their own which was interesting.
So, love interests... Well, as you can see from the synopsis, the love interest here is not Isaiah. After reading Pushing The Limits, I was damn sure Beth and Isaiah would be getting together but it seems this is not the case. If like me, you have read the previous book, be read to do some shouting at the pages and to be utterly shocked. However, I did also really like Ryan who is the love interest. Ryan and his friends love dares, which is how he comes to meet Beth in the first place. Ryan is also a jock and his life revolves around baseball (quite a nice change from American Football, I thought). Ryan came across as full of himself and a stereotypical jock but it was so good to see there was a lot more to him than that.
Mixed in with the plot concerning Beth and Ryan was an extremely exciting story! There is a lot going on regarding Beth's mother and her family life but there is also a lot going on with her old friends from back home. Beth has to learn to live a completely different life while living with her Uncle and she is not comfortable with that at all. Kate McGarry shows no fear when it comes to tackling some really serious issues, which you will already know if you have read Pushing The Limits. The issues written about in Dare You To were really different but just as important and shocking at the same time. It was quite hard reading at times due to how scary the situations were but that also helped make this such a good book.
Unfortunately though, while I did really enjoy this one, I didn't like it quite as much as Pushing The Limits. I'm not completely sure why either, considering I liked all of the characters and the plot. I think Pushing The Limits got more emotion out of me so maybe that's why. Still though, Dare You To is fantastic read, full of excitement and a bad ass protagonist.
*This review will also be posted on my blog and other sites*