Author: Katie McGarry
Genre: YA, contemporary, tough stuff, romance
Publication Date: July 31, 2012 (HarlequinTeen – North America)
Source: NetGalley review copy/Publisher review copy
Summary: “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.
☆: 4/5 stars – a great new YA contemporary!
Review: While I really, really enjoyed this book and its characters, there were a few things that did kind of stick in my craw a bit. Regardless of my nitpicking, “Pushing the Limits” is a great new contemporary YA book – one that kept me riveted until the last page, and I’m really looking forward to the next book.
If this were any other YA contemporary set-up with regards to the plot/romance, I would have been rolling my eyes, not even daring to touch the thing. But what really, really made this book work were the characters – specifically, Noah and Echo. But to be fair, all of the characters were really well crafted, from the MCs to the smaller cast characters who only made minor appearances in this book. The “bad boy” angle that’s given to Noah (and that’s how we’re initially introduced to him) actually works because of his damaged past. It made sense that he would act out, considering what he’s been through. Everyone felt very real, though there were some times I raised my eyebrow concerning Echo’s character construction (specifically her PTSD/insomnia – she’d be a LOT more tired of she were that much of a chronic insomniac; speaking from experience here), but for the most part, these characters felt incredibly 3D and tangible. The fact that each of the characters got their own journey/transformation arcs really helped, too.
Now to the parts that kind of made me cringe/roll my eyes – NOAH, NOAH, NOAH. If you mention that Echo smells like a bakery once more, I will scream. Also, your nicknames for Echo were really starting to grate on me. However, that’s forgivable because you finally settled on “nymph” by the end of the book and stuck with it. Most of the time.
The romance angle was pretty explosive – it wasn’t insta-love and that’s incredibly refreshing. The actual getting together of Noah and Echo was pretty rocky, and wasn’t easy at all. But their chemistry – incredibly sexy, yet surprisingly tender at parts. I liked the way Noah didn’t push Echo on doing the deed, and how she stood her ground when saying that she wasn’t ready. Noah and Echo have been one of the most believable YA contemporary couples I’ve read so far, and I guess that’s saying a lot.
The ending is the best part of the book, and the strongest part of the book. Everything came together really neatly and elegantly, and I generally really just enjoyed it. It’s powerful, and your eyes will probably get teary (mine did, I’m embarrassed to say) when you see Echo’s final transformation. Thus, it makes the best of 2012 list when it comes to YA contemporary. McGarry knows to do contemp right, and I definitely can’t wait to read the next book. Hopefully the kinks that were in this book will be smoothed out in the next.
Final verdict? Definitely a must-read for fans of the YA contem genre, and for those who are leery of it like me, give it a whirl – I think you’ll be happily surprised. “Pushing the Limits” will be out on July 31st from HarlequinTeen, so be sure to check it out then!