Title: Pushing the Limits
Author: Katie McGarry
Series: Pushing the Limits #1
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: 7-31-12
Genre: Young Adult, Romance
Source: Gifted by parents
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.
*sigh* Honestly, I was expecting a little bit more from this book. I liked it, but I didn’t love it. I’m still going to continue on with the series, but I’m not as excited about it as I was before I read this book. I guess I was expecting something a little bit more gritty, more real.
Parts of the book felt forced to me — like having Noah’s foster parents make him live in the basement, Echo having issues with her stepmom, Echo’s former BFF being a bitch, and Echo’s ex-boyfriend being a huge dick. A lot of those aspects of the book felt very juvenile and stereotypical. There was lots of issues with people sitting at certain lunch tables and being afraid to be seen holding so-and-so’s jacket. I couldn’t get behind the high school-ness of this book. For some reason, I had assumed it was going to be more mature, maybe a little bit more New Adult-y (not necessarily with sex, but just with character behavior), but it wasn’t.
What I did like was the chemistry behind Echo and Noah. I really did enjoy reading the parts with the two of the them together, helping each other through their issues and learning to overcome their problems. It was sweet to watch their relationship slowly develop after that first spark-filled conversation. Although I do wish that there had been less terms of endearment and commenting on how good the other person smelled. I also really liked the relationship with Noah and his friends Isaiah and Beth, as well as his relationship with his brothers. It was nice to see how much Noah cared for his family. I thought McGarry did a good job giving Noah this “bad boy mystique” without having to delve into asshole territory. He did hang around with pot-smokers and broke a few laws, but at the end of the day, he had a big heart and truly loved Echo, his friends, and family. And I adored how he treated Echo, especially when it came to the issue of sex. Noah was a good example of how a guy should act about sex when he really cares about you.
I had a little bit of a problem with Echo’s past, though. But I’m not sure where it quite went wrong for me. Objectively, I love the idea of reading about somebody dealing with memory problems and having insecurities relating to physical appearance, but I couldn’t quite connect with Echo’s story the way that I wanted to. Maybe it was too angsty or too melodramatic and unrealistic…I’m not really sure. I just thought that parts of it were weird — like how she refused to tell anybody the truth when it was so much better than what people were making up about her, and how her dad didn’t want her taking art classes. Some things like that just didn’t make sense to me, so I had trouble seeing Echo’s character as having real gritty problems vs. just some entertaining character flaw. Out of Breath by Rebecca Donovan is a good example of a book that does familial problems and angst right — but I don’t feel that Pushing the Limits measured up to it.
Ultimately, I just felt a lot of the characters were a little immature for me and that this book was too over-hyped. I enjoyed the chemistry between Echo and Noah, but didn’t connect with a lot of the background characters or Echo’s issues with her past. I’m excited to read more about Beth’s character in Dare You To, though, because I feel like this book was still pretty good for a debut and I’m hoping that the problems I had with it will be resolved in the sequel. I really enjoyed Beth’s character in Pushing the Limits, so I’m excited to see how McGarry handles her in her own book.
“In the crisp, cold February air, we swayed together, moving to our own personal beat. For one moment, we escaped hell. No teachers, no therapist, no well-meaning friends, no nightmares — just the two of us, dancing.”