Pushing The Limits, by Katie McGarry

>> Thursday, November 15, 2012

TITLE: Pushing The Limits
AUTHOR: Katie McGarry

PAGES: 416
PUBLISHER: Harlequin Teen

SETTING: Contemporary US
TYPE: YA romance

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.
Echo can't remember the traumatic night that pushed her mother out of her life and put her in hospital, Noah is struggling to keep in touch with his younger brothers after reacting against an abusive foster parent labelled him a troublemaker, a label that has followed him round in the system. Being respectively a "good girl" from a wealthy family and a "bad boy" in foster care, these two have never really interacted, although they've been definitely aware of each other. And then their counsellor at school decides to get Echo to tutor Noah.

I read maybe a quarter of this one, and it didn't really capture my attention and make me want to keep reading. Mostly, it felt very high-schooley and immature. Although Echo and Noah are very close to graduation and the biggest amongst their issues are on the grown-up side, so the book could therefore be considered to be closer to New Adult than Young Adult, it's very high-schooly. There's the big deal made of popularity in school, and how Echo is now a freak and an outsider, that made me roll my eyes. For heaven's sake, she and her friends seem not to have much of a problem that her popular friend will only be private friends with her, and will ignore her in public. All this stuff really alienated me, these are issues I have absolutely no empathy with. Which is exactly why I don't read YA, except for some very rare exceptions.

Actually, I'm still trying to figure out where I stand with YA on the whole. I know I can can take teenaged characters in certain non-romance contexts. Novels not set in a world other than our own seem to be fine (e.g. Hunger Games, or even Divergent), but also some set in our own have worked well. I've liked things like John Green's An Abundance of Katherines, which was set during the summer holidays, and Maureen Johnson's The Name of the Star, with a paranormal plot and set in a London boarding school. I think it's the American high school setting that has me running in the opposite direction. Not sure where that allergy comes from, but there it is.

Something else to mention is that I started out listening to the audiobook, which had male and female narrators (MacLeod Andrews and Tara Sands) each reading the alternating sections from Echo and Noah's points of view. Good thing I'd got it from the library, because the female narrator was incredibly annoying, and I ended up switching to text after the first few chapters. Her rendition of Echo's friends' dialogue was exactly what you think when you think annoying teenage girl, and even her slightly more neutral non-dialogue sections were grating. Plus, McGarry often has her characters think a snarky response to a question, and then say something more acceptable, and with audio, it was difficult to tell which bit was spoken and which only thought.



Darlynne,  15 November 2012 at 16:54  

I'm a YA fan or, more specifically, someone who likes to read well-done YA. Your point about alternate universes makes sense because I find them more accessible when they're outside the usual high school environment. There are exceptions, of course, but a scifi/fantasy/paranormal setting works for me.

Speaking of which: Right now I'm listening to Kristin Cashore's Fire, the narration of which by Xanthe Elbrick is absolutely brilliant. The characters are in their late teens, but they are soldiers and leaders, so there's more of a medieval feel along with the fantasy. You don't have to have read Graceling as this book is more of a prequel. I hope it's available at your library because this one is a keeper.

sabrina h.,  15 November 2012 at 21:58  

Oh no. I just bought this book based on a recommendation at SBTB. I never buy YA for the exact reasons you described. I was kind of hoping since this book had so many adult themes that it wouldn't focus so much on the high school popularity game.

Marg 15 November 2012 at 23:53  

Interesting. I have heard lots and lots of good things about this book. I have it, I just haven't read it yet.

Rosario 16 November 2012 at 07:11  

Darlynne: I'm a fan of the variety in YA, not so much of the books themselves, to be honest. I kind of wish we had the same plots and settings and characters, only a little bit older!

Fire sounds amazing, and my library does have it, yay! Thanks so much!

sabrina h: Oh, dear. Yeah, unfortunately, in the section I read, there is a lot of that. Since you've already bought it, though I'd say maybe give it a try: it might improve later on. They certainly had enough grown-up problems they should have been dealing with!

Marg: I know, I've heard nothing but good things myself!

Jess (The Cozy Reader) 16 November 2012 at 16:28  

I enjoyed this book greatly. Too bad you did not. :(

Li 17 November 2012 at 12:10  

Oh, I bought this because the Kindle edition was on sale for 20p (I think) at Amazon UK. I haven't read it yet, but I do like YA (New Adult?) a bit more than you, so fingers crossed!

Re Darlynne's comment, I loved Kristin Cashore's FIRE. I think the series is being marketed in the UK as adult, whereas it's in the YA section in the States.

Rosario 18 November 2012 at 19:20  

Li: Yes, that's why I didn't mind!

Oh, the fact that it's marketed for adults here is a good sign! :)

C,  21 November 2012 at 08:31  

I am glad to finally see someone who did not enjoy this- thought I was the only one! I bought this book when it was on sale for 20p and am so glad I did not pay full price for it. It did not seem like something I would enjoy but the reviews were so good that I thought it might exceed my expectations. It did not. I didn't really get the relationship between echo and noah- they were sweet together but the attempted seriousness of their relationship seemed forced. They came across as two teenagers with a crush, yet it was being sold as True Love. I thought that the issues were also downplayed- with the relationship and high school games taking over - instead of fully treated with the weight they deserved. and from the point I reached it seemed a little too much like romance would heal all. I gave up on the book eventually without finishing as I just did not care anymore. I definitly cannot enjoy these kind of YA books- I can't relate with any part of it.

Rosario 22 November 2012 at 07:00  

C: I didn't even get to the point where the relationship was becoming a romance, it alienated me long before then with the high school games, as you call them. I kind of wish books like this had been around when I was a teen myself -I might have liked it then!

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