Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Review: Dare You To by Katie McGarry

Title: Dare You To
Author: Katie McGarry
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Length: 456 pages
Original Publishing Date: May 28th, 2013
Series: Pushing the Limits #2 (see my review of Pushing the Limits here!)
Where I got it: E-library
Links: Goodreads Amazon Author's Website

Synopsis 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....
Main characters: 3.5/5

I don't know what it is about Beth that can sometimes be very trying for me. Theoretically, I like Beth's attitude, her independence, her determination to make things right and her loyalty to her mom, even if it ends up badly for her. However, in practice, I get really frustrated with Beth. She is stuck in this mindset that Ryan actually ends up nailing on the head, and hearing her thoughts made me so mad sometimes. She fails to see so many aspects, and despite the fact that it may be realistic, it made me sometimes dislike Beth because I didn't want to hear her whine again about how Ryan couldn't possibly love her, or whatever else she was on at the moment.
Ryan made my heart melt. I love how dedicated Ryan was to baseball, but also how he learns about other things that he's passionate about and learns to make his own decisions in life. Even though he had the same frustrating qualities as Beth in the beginning (where you just want to smash their heads against a wall until they understand what they're doing wrong), I liked Ryan better because he understood things more quickly and stood up for himself more than Beth.
The one thing that McGarry does beautifully with her characters is slow development. You meet these characters at the beginning and they are stereotyped into these groups, the "jock" or the "punk girl". As you get to know them, you realize their imperfections (and man, do you realize how dumb they can be). Then, as they fall in love, they learn their shortcomings and have these beautiful moments of realization. It's wonderful to see that realistic character development.

Secondary characters: 4/5

The secondary characters were wonderful in this story. I was pretty disgusted with Scott at first, given that I only knew Beth's side of the story (or at least I could infer). But as I got to know him, I really began to like him. Scott and Beth's banter was hilarious and I thought that they were wonderful together. Chris, Logan and Lacy were the perfect sidekicks to Beth and Ryan. I especially loved Lacy because I could imagine her as my friend. The parents in Dare You To were exceptionally frustrating and I think it's interesting that neither Beth nor Ryan had great parents. Perhaps this was one of the things that connected them.

Writing style: 3/5

I think I mentioned McGarry's writing style a bit in my review of Pushing the Limits. I don't think McGarry's writing meshes with the stuff I like to read. To be fair, the writing style is simple and utilitarian, and it moves ahead at a pretty good pace. I rarely felt like the story was moving too slow. The part that I don't like is that some of the romance aspects seem so over-dramatized and cheesy. When the writing started to feel this way, the romance itself became unbelievable and unrealistic.

Plot: 4/5 
I liked a lot of aspects about the plot. I liked how some of the roles were switched. Beth was the "bad girl" and Ryan was the perfect, virgin baseball player. I liked the struggles that both Beth and Ryan dealt with, individually and together. They had very realistic difficulties that were intriguing and kept me on the edge of my seat waiting to see what would happen next.

Ending: 4.5/5

I was happy with the ending. I think it covered a lot of ground in their past, their present, and their future. Obviously there were some elements that I still had questions about and loose ends that could have been tied up. But I loved how some things came around full circle, how conflicts were on the mend (even if they weren't completely resolved, because let's face it, life is complicated and conflicts don't always end up perfectly solved), and how there was hope for the future.

Best scene: The one at the beginning where Beth turns down Ryan flat at Taco Bell

Reminded Me Of: Ahaha, it's too hard to do this with sequels because it really just reminds me of Pushing the Limits :)

Positives: Character development, realism, plot, pacing, ending

Negatives: Beth's attitude sometimes, the overdramatic descriptions of love, the writing style

Cover: I liked this cover better than the cover of Pushing the Limits, but it's still not exactly my taste.

Verdict: A satisfying sequel that combines character development and realism to create an emotional and heartwrenching romance

  7.6 / 10 (4 stars)

Your Thoughts: Have you read it? What did you think? If you haven't, will you be adding it to your TBR list? Let me know!

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