Google+ YA Romantics: Just Finished Reading … Dare You To by Katie McGarry

Monday, May 13, 2013

Just Finished Reading … Dare You To by Katie McGarry

Review of Dare You To
by Katie McGarry
To be published by Harlequin Teen
on May 28, 2013

Source: e-ARC from the publisher via NetGalley. Please see my FTC disclosure on the right sidebar.

Quote is from an ARC and finished copy may change.

Connect with the author: website : Facebook : Twitter. 

Summary (from Goodreads) 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 take:  If you love contemporary YA that leans toward NA --   romance that really ramps up both the emotion and the sexual tension -- you should definitely check out Katie McGarry's novels.

Dare You To is a companion book to Pushing the Limits and focuses on Beth, a character from that book. I think it's preferable to read Pushing the Limits before Dare You To, but it's not absolutely necessary.

I love odd couple romances, and Beth and Ryan are just that. She's angry and rebellious, while he's a talented baseball player and parent-pleasing kind of guy. However, it definitely took a while for me to feel any sparks or chemistry between the two of them, and I think that may have been the result of the whole "dare" motif. The dare/bet plot is a well-known one in teen movies and chick flicks like She's All That, Cruel Intentions, or How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days. It's a tried-and-true way to bring two seemingly mismatched characters together, to let them fall in love, and then let the reader watch the emotional fireworks as bet or dare is revealed.

In the case of Dare You To, I thought the dare concept detracted somewhat from the main story. As the book opens, Ryan and his best friend Chris are having a contest to see who can collect the most phone numbers. Fine, except that Chris has a girlfriend and claims he's madly in love, and Ryan is supposed to be his best friend. Right off, I'm not favorably disposed to either guy. Chris dares Ryan to ask Beth for her number and -- to her credit -- she shoots him down. Then Chris proceeds to dare Ryan to get Beth to go out with him.

The dare subplot did eventually fall by the wayside so the book could focus on all the other stuff going on. Just as in Pushing the Limits, there are Issues with a capital I:  Beth's junkie mother, friction between Ryan's parents over his brother, Ryan's mean girl ex. All the characters have traumas and problems and resentments and loads of angst. Beth curses and rages and tries to protect her train wreck of a mother while Ryan tries to please everyone around him. Ryan tries to get closer to Beth, and she shoves him away. At times these kinds of books can get to be too much of an emo-fest for my taste, but I like the way that Katie McGarry allows the hard edge of reality to cut through all the emotional drama.  She doesn't always try to tie everything up in a neat bow. For example, it's clear that Beth still isn't crazy about Echo, the main character from Pushing the Limits.  Things stay unresolved with Beth's mother, and that felt realistic to me.

And … what about Isaiah?

I love that guy! For me, the most moving parts of Dare You To were the scenes between Beth and Isaiah, and I wish there had been more of them. I could feel the emotion between the two of them, and my heart broke as they tried to sort out their feelings for each other.
Isaiah is my rock. The string that holds me together when I'm ready to fall apart. He's the anchor that keeps me from floating away when I go too far. His heart has been the one constant rhythm in my life and I don't want to let it go.

I'm thinking that the next book -- Crash Into You -- has to be about Isaiah. Right? Yes?

23 comments:

  1. Yes, the next book is about Isaiah. Wasn't there a snippet at the end of Dare You To?

    I was mad at Chris for doing the dare for phone numbers when he had a girlfriend (especially since Lacy is so awesome) but I didn't mind it as a frame for Ryan's relationship with Beth when he ended up telling her. I liked this more than Pushing the Limits-in some ways I feel like it has the tough girl/sweet guy trope going on.

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    1. Yes, I did like the fact that Ryan confessed about the dare thing early on, which is usually not the case in these kinds of stories and made for a refreshing change.

      I just didn't get the whole friendship based on dares thing and I could never really warm up to Chris.

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    2. I still need to read all the bonus content in my e-ARC -- I just looked and there's an interview, a playlist, and -- yep -- a short excerpt of the next book...

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  2. For me I liked Pushing the Limits better but I still really enjoyed Dare You To. I do especially like that she did not tie up everything in a perfect bow, both with Beth and Echo and at the end of the story. Things are better... but there are still issues to be worked through.

    I do believe that Crash Into You is about Isaiah :)

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  3. The emotion was great and I like the odd pairing with Beth and Ryan as well. Glad you enjoyed.

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  4. The dare issue really didn't bother me. But I also liked what you mentioned about Beth still not liking Echo because I think in the real world if you have really close guy friends, it's hard to warm up to their girlfriends sometimes and be a little skeptic. But definitely, my heart hurts for Isaiah. I originally thought he and Beth would get together.

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  5. sounds like a very emotional read. Know a few people that Loved Pushing The Limits. I hope I can read that one soon myself. Excellent review!

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  6. Ooh, I'm starting this one soon and can't wait to read it! Great review, Jen!

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  7. Yes, Jen- my copy of Dare You To had a preview of the next book, and it is Isiah's story.

    I actually really liked this book, which surprised me because I liked Pushing the Limits but didn't love it, and I didn't think I'd dig Beth's story so much. I ended up really liking Ryan, because it's nice to have a "good guy" be the love interest, even if he was dealing with issues too. And the rain water... maybe it was a bit corny, but I made a point to tell the Hubs about it, so he'd know how real romance goes down. ;)

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  8. I am starting this very soon an I can't wait!


    Kate @ Ex Libris

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  9. I LOVED Pushing the Limits, so I hope I love this one too! Got it pre-ordered. I have to admit I was shocked at first when it was revealed that this book wasn't about Isaiah & Beth, but I'm glad he's getting his story too :-)

    Great review Jen!

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  10. I want to give this one a go after reading Pushing the Limits :)

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  11. Glad you enjoyed this, but I was thinking the same thing. WHAT ABOUT POOR ISAIAH? I did actually check after reading the book, whilst having a bit of angst about it, and book three IS about him, so I'm sure he'll get his own happy ending. Wonderful review! :-)

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  12. My review goes up later this week and I had some of the same issues regarding Ryan vs. Isaiah. Ryan's introduction wasn't so great lol

    Next to Simone Elkeles I think Katie McGarry is the queen at writing these angst filled teen dramas. In fact I think McGarry's are a little edgier.

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  13. Dude... when you see Katie at BEA, ask her to write a book about Logan.

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    1. Wow... I feel like I leave the worst comments on your blog. I'm so random. :/

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  14. Can't believe this, but I really wanna read this one! I never really cared for Beth in the first book, but who knows? But from your review, I'm thinking Pushing the Limits was better than this one... But I can't wait to read more about Isaiah! I just liked the guy ever since.

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  15. OMG! Tell me, tell me, tell me. How did you like it? I'm a little nervous reading this book. I can't wait to dive into it.

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  16. I also had trouble at first disengaging from Isaiah as a love interest and liking Ryan, though in the end I love the odd match between Ryan and Beth and I think they're better off than her with Isaiah. I agree that the dare plot wasn't my favorite, but I'm thankful that it didn't draw out forever. I was really worried that the moment when Beth discovers she's part of a dare would be the climax of the book, but I was happy to see that didn't happen. Isaiah and Rachel (a new character) are the couple for Crash Into You. There was a short two chapter preview at the end of the arc I read, and I CANNOT WAIT. This book only made me adore Isaiah more. Great review.

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  17. "Issues with a capital I" are partly why I had a hard time connecting with the first book, I'm afraid--but wow, this series is growing in popularity I think! I seem to see it everywhere lately. I'm glad you enjoyed it, Jen. :)


    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

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  18. I was a little upset before reading this book seeing that Beth doesn't end up with Isaiah, but after reading Katie's interview in the end, I totally agree with her reasoning. Beth and Ryan were very odd, like you said, but somehow they worked. Can't wait to read about Isaiah, his girl is already my favorite. Great review, Jen!

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  19. Need to get on this one. I thought I had more time!!! And I love odd couples, too!

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  20. I still haven't read this series, but am planning to at some point. Fabulous review! :)

    Tressa @ Tressa's Wishful Endings

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