Dare You To by Katie McGarry Review

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Title: Dare You To
Author: Katie McGarry (Twitter)
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publish Date: May 28, 2013
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Pages: 462
Source: Publisher

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...

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...
It all started with a dare. Beth's life is always in turmoil. From her home life, which is currently in upheaval, to her life at school, which is far less than perfect, Beth struggles on a daily basis. The last thing she'd ever expect is for the boy that everybody loves to be even remotely interested in her. But, before she knows it, perceptions are changing, and so is Beth as she begins to realize that she might be worth it all, and she might just be able to get what she wants and deserves for a change. 

There was a tense, hard-hitting beauty to Dare You To's predecessor, Pushing the Limits, which wound readers like myself up into such a frenzy that we were more than a little frantic to get our paws on the second installment. Author, Katie McGarry, dazzles and definitely doesn't disappoint her devoted fans with this remarkable story of two kids from opposite sides of the tracks that might just have more in common than they think. The novel comes alive with vivid characters and dares us to put aside our preconceived notions and fall in love with the novel as Beth and Ryan navigate the course of their own relationships. 

I've seen a lot of less than favourable reviews for Dare You To because, like myself, many readers were expecting this to be Beth and Isaiah's love story. We met Beth before, and we knew that her home life was far less than perfect, and we also knew that Isaiah was the one for her. Or was he? I was dead-set against this novel straying from what I hoped for, but as I began to read further, the author's intricate character arcs and careful development began to unravel the true meaning of this new relationship for me. Beth felt completely alone. On the surface, Ryan looked as though he had it all, but he'd lost himself along the way, as well. These two broken characters are nearly two halves of a whole, completing one another through challenges, commitment and a mutual understanding of what they're rising up from. Dare You To was more of a straightforward teen romance tale than I felt the first book was, but it actually worked for me. The author has this innate ability to create characters with whom we can actually relate. The emotions, the pain, the love and the healing - they're all tangible and entirely accessible because McGarry employs unadulterated emotion to fuel the plot. Through their struggles and triumphs, we find that we're just as invested in the story as Beth and Ryan are invested in their own budding relationship. On the minute downside, I do think that some of the secondary characters needed to be fleshed out more. Beth's aunt, Allison, could have been a remarkable and deeper addition to the storyline if I'd better understood the motivation behind her interactions with Beth. 

Overall though, I think that Dare You To was a passionate and fulfilling second installment to this fantastic series. We're treated to excellent writing and delicious prose, all which whet my appetite as a reader. I give it a 4 out of 5, and I highly recommend it to fans of YA, especially those who enjoy contemporary and romance.

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.

26 comments:

  1. I gave this book a four out of five as well. I thought it was super entertaining and a good follow-up to Pushing the Limits (which I actually liked a little bit better). And I agree that some of the secondary characters, like Allison, could have been developed a bit more. I really liked the character of Ryan...swoon! :) I'm glad you enjoyed this one--great review!

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    1. I like PTL better, as well, but this was definitely a good follow-up. I can't complain too much!

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  2. While I was sad this wasn't Beth and Isaiah's story, I can see why those two just didn't work as love interests. Too similar, too much history, too enabling of each other...they both need and love each other but as friends not lovers. Once I got past my disappointment, I fully enjoyed this love story and now I can't wait for Isaiah's!

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    1. I can't wait either, Mary! Why must books be so good?!

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  3. Ah, I LOVED this book! It had some problems and I missed the growth in Allison and Beth's relationship too, but the amount of emotion in this book made me fall completely in love with it. I wasn't that sad about it not being a Beth x Isaiah story, but it still broke my heart when Beth talked to Isaiah about how things were.

    - Ellie at The Selkie Reads Stories

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    1. I hear you on that one, for sure, Ellie! But I'm definitely a huge fan of this book :)

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  4. YAY! So glad you enjoyed this one Melissa! I was definitely on the Beth and Isaiah Forever team, but once the story got started I couldn't help but fall in love with Ryan and see how perfect he really was for her and she for him. Isaiah about killed me in this book though, I just wanted to hug him and now I need his book as fast as it's humanly possible to get it to me. Gorgeous review:):)

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    1. I DID, TOO! I love, love, love Isaiah, and I can't wait to read his story :))))

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  5. I enjoyed this one too, and I think I was one of the few who didn't want Beth together with Isaiah at the end of the first book. They weren't good for each other. They didn't challenge the other. I also didn't like Ryan at the beginning of the book, but did love him in the end. So need the next one. I spotted the cover, but I can't say that the guy looks like Isaiah in my head at all. :( Still, will enjoy it, I just know it.

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    1. I definitely see why the two didn't work together now...I just didn't want to agree with it ;)

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  6. I agree completely - satisfying and steamy, this one was adorable and kept my attention. It did have its flaws, but McGarry is an author I can just kick back and relax with. Lovely review, Melissa! :)

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  7. I agree completely - this was such a satisfying companion novel. I really loved both Beth and Ryan and McGarry wrote them with such a realistic quality. I can't wait for Isaiah's book now! Lovely review, Melissa! :)

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    1. Thank you, Keertana! Isaiah's book is going to be wonderful, I'm sure!

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  8. I loved this one Melissa! I never saw Beth and Isaiah together, I think I'm the only one. But to me they are both broken and bad for each other. I was so glad this one was about a "good" boy and a "bad" girl instead of the other way around. And I agree, there was a lot less drama in this one. It was more romance. But Katie McGarry just has a way with words, doesn't she!
    Great review! So glad you enjoyed it!

    Heather

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    1. I think the romance was perfect in this one. Usually romance doesn't do it for me, but wow...she's good!

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  9. I was a little surprised when I opened the book up and realized it wasn't a Beth and Isaiah story but I can see why the author veered down this path instead. I was completely invested in these two. I'm glad you enjoyed it. :)

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    1. Yeah, I definitely get it, too, but I was totally shocked at first. It worked for me though :)

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  10. I liked Pushing the Limits a lot but for some reason I find myself not as excited about this book. I think it's gotten so much exposure I'm actually a little sick of it, but I'm also not really in the mood for hard hitting and emotional, I want more fun contemporary. I'm thinking maybe in the fall I'll pick this one up. I'm glad that you really enjoyed it though!

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    1. I think that's where we differ, Candace! I'm all about the hard-hitting emotion ;)

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  11. I loved this book! Like you said, it was so easy to connect with Beth & Ryan and feel every emotion through them. Ryan was such a surprise for me, I never expected his life to be too tangled and messy, but in a way he was as broken as Beth on the inside. I'm so glad that he was paired with Beth than Isaiah, though I can't wait to read Isiah's story. The preview at the end has me so excited. Wonderful review, Melissa!
    Plus, I too wished we got to see more of Allison. I was pinning as an evil stepmother in the beginning, glad she didn't turn out to be that bad, but I still don't know who Allison is.

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    1. Thanks, Aman! And yes, I agree on Allison...I really wanted to understand her character more.

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  12. I was fully prepared to feel let down by Dare You To. Pushing the Limits is an amazing book, and hard to follow up. I think McGarry did a really great job with this, and despite myself, I was okay with Beth and Isaiah not becoming a couple. (I am DYING to read Crash Into You!) Now that you mention it, I think Allison should've been fleshed out more, too. Good point. Great review.

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    1. I absolutely cannot wait to read it either! Isaiah's story is going to ROCK.

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  13. I preferred this to PTL finding Ryan fully capable of bringing the swoon and that his wooing of bad girl Beth fit into some of my favorite romance tropes. I loved the snippet of Isaiah's story that we got and am very excited for his full story!

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  14. I absolutely adored this book! It's probably because I loved Ryan and Beth even more than I loved Noah and Echo. Ryan's a complete sweetheart and Beth, well she's a firecracker! I enjoyed reading their individual stories and the story of their romance. It was so well-done!

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  15. I really enjoyed this book. I think I actually liked it better than the first book. In the first book you were introduced to Beth and I am happy she got her own book. I was a little upset bc I thought she would end up with someone else. But after reading the book I understood why it had to be this way. And I think that Beth and Ryan make a great couple. I am very excited about the next book being about Isaaih. I guess my only complaint about the book was I would have liked to know what happened more with echo and Noah. I know it wasn't their book I just really wish we could have a little more insight.

    Maycee Greene (Anchorage Website Design)

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