Author: Katie McGarry (Twitter)
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publish Date: May 28, 2013
Genre: YA, Contemporary
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.