Sunday, August 05, 2012

Pushing The Limits by Katie McGarry

Sunday, August 05, 2012 with No comments

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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. 

I knew I had to read this one when I kept seeing rave reviews about it around the blogosphere. At first glance, I had originally thought it would just be another cheesy YA romance novel, but this book ended up surprising me at its depth. I loved how it was told in alternating viewpoints, switching between Echo and Noah each chapter. The last book I read that did this was Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles - another book the alternating points-of-view worked well for.

In fact, I think that giving us a glimpse at both Echo's and Noah's thoughts is what made me love this novel so much. Both were complex characters, and if their stories had been told from only one or the other's thoughts, so much would have been left out, and this book would have had less of an impact on me, and probably on its readers. So, on to the lead characters:

I thought Echo was actually pretty cool. Her back-story is what really kept things interesting. She hides her arms, which are covered completely in scars, and she goes to counseling so that she could try and remember how she got them. The trauma of the event that caused them had been too much for her mind to handle, and her mind blocked it from her memory. Even though it soon became pretty obvious what had happened to her, I still enjoyed reading about her discoveries. I felt that at the end of the novel, she had grown a whole lot, and gained a lot of courage and independence.

Noah's issue was that his parents died in a house fire, and he had been passed around from foster home to foster home, unable to see his two younger brothers unsupervised due to an incident in which he had punched his first foster father in the face. All Noah wanted was to get custody of his little brothers. I really liked him, but one thing that was very apparent was that Noah was written by a female author. There were some moments when I'd feel like swooning, sure, but there were also many where I was thinking to myself, "What guy thinks like this?!" I mean, he thought of Echo as his siren and his nymph, and many of the thoughts in his mind were extremely cheesy and sounded like they were written solely to appeal to the female readers. If the author could have toned down a bit in that area, I would have enjoyed reading it a whole lot more, instead, I found myself cringing in embarrassment. Not all the romance was mushy, but a good chunk of it was.

Overall Thoughts
Despite Noah's cheesy romance-novel thoughts, I liked his character, and Echo's as well - they were pretty fleshed-out. Even the side characters were interesting. I felt that the story was paced well, and found myself breezing through the chapters effortlessly. The transformation of both Echo and Noah was something I enjoyed reading about, and I found myself growing a little attached. With this debut novel, McGarry has caught my attention, and I look forward to reading more of her work (which, I am excited to find, includes an upcoming novel about one of the side-characters, Beth!). If you enjoy reading novels about people overcoming their pasts, then I recommend this one. It lives up to all the good reviews about it, despite being a bit sappy with the romance.

(Okay, I'm sure I'll be reading this again, I'm a sucker for romance,
but I just can't shell out the 5th star... )



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