Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Review: Love and Other Perishable Items

Love and Other Perishable Items (Formerly “Good Oil”), by Laura Buzo. The GoodReads summary:
Love is awkward, Amelia should know.

From the moment she sets eyes on Chris, she is a goner. Lost. Sunk. Head over heels infatuated with him. It's problematic, since Chris, 21, is a sophisticated university student, while Amelia, 15, is 15.

Amelia isn't stupid. She knows it's not gonna happen. So she plays it cool around Chris—at least, as cool as she can. Working checkout together at the local supermarket, they strike up a friendship: swapping life stories, bantering about everything from classic books to B movies, and cataloging the many injustices of growing up. As time goes on, Amelia's crush doesn't seem so one-sided anymore. But if Chris likes her back, what then? Can two people in such different places in life really be together?

Through a year of befuddling firsts—first love, first job, first party, and first hangover—debut author Laura Buzo shows how the things that break your heart can still crack you up.
I would say I liked about half this book. The story’s told from two perspectives—Amelia’s and Chris’s—and while I liked Amelia’s half, Chris and his story never won me over. Amelia was a fairly typical YA main character: a little shy, a little witty, a little worn down by her crappy home life but resilient all the same. She wasn’t necessarily a memorable character, but she was likeable enough. Chris, on the other hand, I couldn’t stand. I swear all he does is whine about his ex-girlfriend and get drunk. And while he hates his life, he never does anything to change it. So I basically had no patience for him and his immaturity.

I think where this book excels, though, is in how it shows that you can’t really ever completely know another person—there are always things that they’re not telling you, and your interpretation of their actions isn’t necessarily their real motivation. Amelia thinks she knows so much about Chris, but all she sees is his outgoing, friendly side—that’s what she falls in love with. She doesn’t ever seem to catch on to the dark and depressed part of him. The same goes for Chris. He sees Amelia as a precocious, entertaining teenager and doesn’t have a clue about how bad things are for her at home. The disparity between how they saw each other and how they saw themselves gave me something to think about, which was refreshing since I was admittedly expecting something a bit fluffier.

I also liked how well this book captures hopeless crushes. Amelia knows that realistically she and Chris won’t ever be together—she’s 15 and he’s 21, not to mention he’s in love with someone else. But she can’t help but wish and hope and dream that somehow it’ll all work out. Her heart wants what her heart wants, and no amount of rational thinking is going to change that. And who hasn’t been there and done that? I just thought Buzo’s portrayal of that emotion was really well done and realistic.

Overall, there were a lot of things that this book does really well, but my dislike for Chris stopped me from really enjoying the book. I could never quite tell whether the author intended for me to like him or not, but either way, he threw a bit of a wrench in my appreciation for the book.

Rating: 3 / 5

Friday, January 25, 2013

Review: I Capture the Castle

I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith. The GoodReads summary:
I Capture the Castle tells the story of seventeen-year-old Cassandra and her family, who live in not-so-genteel poverty in a ramshackle old English castle. Here she strives, over six turbulent months, to hone her writing skills. She fills three notebooks with sharply funny yet poignant entries. Her journals candidly chronicle the great changes that take place within the castle's walls, and her own first descent into love. By the time she pens her final entry, she has "captured the castle"--and the heart of the reader--in one of literature's most enchanting entertainments.
I read this book as a teenager, and I remember that I liked it, but recently when it came time to read it for book club, I realized I only had vague memories of what happens in it or what made me like it. Although I did remember two things quite clearly: I loved Cassandra, and I hated Simon. So with that in mind, I started off on my reread—though honestly, most of the time it was like I was reading it for the first time.

I fell in love with Cassandra at exactly the same place I did when I first read it: at the top of the second page. Cassandra is describing herself and she says, “I am seventeen, look younger, feel older.” That statement just so perfectly encapsulated how I felt my entire teenage life—that disparity between how others saw me and how I saw myself. That quote spoke to me then, and it still speaks to me now. Cassandra is quite insightful and observant and witty, and she made me grin constantly and even laugh out loud a few times. Which is not to say that Cassandra is perfect. I got so frustrated with her for the way she acts with Stephen, like his adoration of her is her rightful due and that she doesn’t have to think about how her actions affect him. I also got a bit tired of her constant whining and moping during the last quarter of the book. But I can forgive her all that because of how well she captures so much of what I felt growing up and because of how easy it is for me to relate to her.

I was kinda hoping that I was misremembering my disdain for Simon, and that this time around he would win me over. But he didn’t. I think the majority of why I didn’t like him when I first read the book was his creepy beard, but this time I thought that while he’s perfectly nice, he comes across as a bit too weak and boring for my taste. And I don’t like how he (spoiler) falls for Rose for her beauty and for who he thinks she is, rather than for who she really is. And I really can’t forgive him for kissing Cassandra when he’s engaged to Rose and then acting like it’s no big deal (end spoiler).

The ending was much better than I remembered it being the first time around. (Spoiler) I thought that the book ended with Simon and Cassandra getting together, but it doesn’t—it leaves it open. For most people that’s probably frustrating, but since I don’t like Simon, I was quite happy with it. Yes, the book ends with Cassandra still in love with him and with the possibility of them being together in the future, but the openness of the ending leaves room for me to believe that Cassandra will outgrow him eventually and find someone better—and if that someone just happens to be an older and wiser future Stephen, I wouldn’t mind a bit (end spoiler).

Overall, I was glad that when I finished the book this time, I liked it just as much as I did the first time I read it. Even a little more maybe, because I felt like I understood things that I missed before. It never ceases to amaze me how a book written in 1948 can speak to me so well 65 years later.

Rating: 4 / 5

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Review: Catherine

Catherine, by April Lindner. The GoodReads summary:
A forbidden romance. A modern mystery. Wuthering Heights as you’ve never seen it before.

Catherine is tired of struggling musicians befriending her just so they can get a gig at her Dad’s famous Manhattan club, The Underground. Then she meets mysterious Hence, an unbelievably passionate and talented musician on the brink of success. As their relationship grows, both are swept away in a fiery romance. But when their love is tested by a cruel whim of fate, will pride keep them apart?

Chelsea has always believed that her mom died of a sudden illness, until she finds a letter her dad has kept from her for years—a letter from her mom, Catherine, who didn’t die: She disappeared. Driven by unanswered questions, Chelsea sets out to look for her—starting with the return address on the letter: The Underground.

Told in two voices, twenty years apart, Catherine interweaves a timeless forbidden romance with a compelling modern mystery.
First of all, can I just take a moment to admire how well the cover of “Catherine” matches the cover of “Jane,” Lindner’s other book? They just look so dang pretty together. But moving on, like “Jane” was a modernization of “Jane Eyre,” “Catherine” is a retelling of “Wuthering Heights.” I have a bit of a tumultuous relationship with “Wuthering Heights” in that it’s a book that I equal parts love and hate. If you haven’t read it, “Wuthering Heights” is a hot mess of jealousy, pettiness, bad decisions, and unhealthy relationships. It’s pretty much the soap opera to end all soap operas.

So I was curious how Lindner would deal with all that in a relatively short YA novel. And it turns out, she deals with it by not dealing with most of it. She took the basic elements of “Wuthering Heights”—the forbidden and doomed romance, the family relationships, the multigenerational plot—and transformed them into very much her own story. I think I’d even go so far as to say that “Catherine” is slightly less of a retelling of “Wuthering Heights” and more of a mystery as Chelsea tries to find out what really happened to her mother. And while I kinda admire that tactic, I couldn’t help but feel slightly disappointed that a lot of the passion and drama that make “Wuthering Heights” what it is fell by the wayside as the author took the story in her own direction.

I think where the book ended up being weakest for me was in the characters of Catherine and Chelsea, and since they were the narrators, it proved to be a bit problematic for me. Hence (that’s his name), I thought was spot on for Heathcliff—moody, jealous, cruel, mysterious. But Catherine . . . she was a little too kind and responsible and level headed. Usually, those are the traits I like in a main character, but the Catherine of “Wuthering Heights” is so spirited, spoiled, and generally frustrating that I couldn’t help but feel like this new Catherine fell flat in comparison, even though she was more likable than her namesake. Chelsea, I just never got attached to. Like Catherine, she just came across as a bit too unmemorable. And really, I felt like neither Catherine nor Chelsea had a distinctive narrative voice and that their characters were pretty much interchangeable.

Overall, I have mixed feelings about this book. I think it was an admirable attempt, but this retelling somehow lacks the basic underlying life and passion that makes “Wuthering Heights” so emotionally powerful. But I do really recommend “Jane” by this same author—Lindner nails the retelling in that one.

Rating: 3 / 5

Monday, January 21, 2013

Audiobook Review: The Boyfriend List

The Boyfriend List (Ruby Oliver #1), by E. Lockhart. The GoodReads summary:
Fifteen-year-old Ruby has had a rough ten days. During that time she:

* lost her boyfriend (#13 on the list)
* lost her best friend (Kim)
* lost all her other friends (Nora, Cricket)
* did something suspicious with a boy (#10)
* did something advanced with a boy (#15)
* had an argument with a boy (#14)
* had a panic attack
* lost a lacrosse game (she's the goalie)
* failed a math test (she'll make it up)
* hurt Meghan's feelings (even though they aren't really friends)
* became a social outcast (no one to sit with at lunch)
* had graffiti written about her in the girls' bathroom (who knows what was in the

But don't worry—Ruby lives to tell the tale. And make more lists.
I actually had already read this book a year or two ago, and apparently I liked it, because I know I read the rest of the series. The thing is, I couldn’t remember anything about the book. So when I was at the library recently, trying to find audiobooks for an upcoming road trip, I decided to give The Boyfriend List another shot.

The audiobook was read by Mandy Siegfried, and I really liked her narrative style. I don’t know how old the narrator was, but she managed to bring 15-year-old Ruby to life for me. The combination of Siegfried’s reading and Lockhart’s writing made the whole experience feel like I was sitting in my car listening to a friend tell me about all the drama going on in her life. It didn’t feel like someone was reading to me at all. Half the time, I wouldn’t have been surprised if I looked over and Ruby was sitting next to me in the passenger seat.

The story itself was much more hilarious than I remember it being the first time I read it. I laughed out loud so many times because Ruby is just so witty and funny. There were quite a few lines I wanted to write down. I also liked how well Lockhart, through Ruby, manages to capture what being a girl is like. Although Ruby’s life has way more boy drama than mine ever did (or does), the way she reacts to it and processes it is just so easy for me to relate to. I also gained a greater appreciation this time through of how well Lockhart organizes the book. The chapters are all based off different boys from Ruby’s Boyfriend List, and Lockhart manages not only to discuss the boys in question, but also create a cohesive story out of it.

Overall, The Boyfriend List is a lot of fun, and the narration by Mandy Siegfried only made me enjoy the story more.

Rating: 4 / 5

Friday, January 18, 2013

Review: The Flight of Gemma Hardy

The Flight of Gemma Hardy, by Margot Livesey. The GoodReads summary:
When her widower father drowns at sea, Gemma Hardy is taken from her native Iceland to Scotland to live with her kind uncle and his family. But the death of her doting guardian leaves Gemma under the care of her resentful aunt, and it soon becomes clear that she is nothing more than an unwelcome guest at Yew House. When she receives a scholarship to a private school, ten-year-old Gemma believes she's found the perfect solution and eagerly sets out again to a new home. However, at Claypoole she finds herself treated as an unpaid servant.

To Gemma's delight, the school goes bankrupt, and she takes a job as an au pair on the Orkney Islands. The remote Blackbird Hall belongs to Mr. Sinclair, a London businessman; his eight-year-old niece is Gemma's charge. Even before their first meeting, Gemma is, like everyone on the island, intrigued by Mr. Sinclair. Rich (by Gemma's standards), single, flying in from London when he pleases, Hugh Sinclair fills the house with life. An unlikely couple, the two are drawn to each other, but Gemma's biggest trial is about to begin: a journey of passion and betrayal, redemption and discovery, that will lead her to a life of which she's never dreamed.

Set in Scotland and Iceland in the 1950s and '60s, The Flight of Gemma Hardy--a captivating homage to Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre--is a sweeping saga that resurrects the timeless themes of the original but is destined to become a classic all its own.
Being obsessed with all things Jane Eyre, as soon as I found out that this book was a modernization/retelling, I knew I had to read it. Aaaand . . . it turned out to be a bit of a mixed experience for me.

Generally, the book follows the basic storyline of Jane Eyre fairly closely, and generally I approved of the ways that Livesey made the story her own. In fact, if it wasn’t for a bit in the middle, I think I could’ve fallen in love with this book and the way Livesey stayed true to the spirit of the original plot while still developing the characters and story in ways suited to it taking place in 1960s Scotland (which setting was wonderfully well done, by the way). But I think where the book fell flat for me was in the places where the author departed drastically from Jane Eyre—namely, there is no crazy wife in the attic and there is no fire and consequently scarred Mr. Rochester (or Mr. Sinclair in this case). Livesey went with a more realistic route for those big moments, and for me, in making those aspects less dramatic, she somehow made the story less believable, because all of a sudden, without the crazy drama, the truths Gemma discovers don’t seem shocking enough to cause her to make the life-changing choices she does.

Another crucial place where the book didn’t work for me was Gemma and Mr. Sinclair’s relationship (this is the bit in the middle I mentioned earlier). I just didn’t feel the passion between them at all. In fact, it really doesn’t seem like they spend any time together or get to know each other or do any of the things that make me adore Jane and Mr. Rochester. To me, their relationship, from Gemma’s side at least, came off as unhealthy—with her falling for him because he’s the only man who’s ever paid her any real attention. She seems so desperate to be wanted that she clings to Mr. Sinclair out of gratitude and inexperience. Which was decidedly NOT the turn I wanted the relationship to take.

And honestly, Gemma is just not as likeable as Jane. Whereas I always admire Jane, Gemma tends to come off as straight-laced and sanctimonious. Plus, she makes some decisions towards the end that, while softening her holier-than-thou attitude and reconciling her to Mr. Sinclair, just didn’t seem consistent with her character.

I realize that this review is coming off more negative than I intended, so I’ll just reiterate that I did enjoy the majority of the ways the book stayed true to and departed from Jane Eyre. Not to mention the setting—from Scotland to the Orkneys to Iceland—is gorgeous. It’s just that the story didn’t come through for me in some really crucial ways. Which maybe if I didn’t love Jane Eyre so much wouldn’t have normally bothered me, but love Jane Eyre I do, so disappoint me they did. For a modernization of Jane Eyre that I endorse wholeheartedly, try "Jane," by April Lindner.

Rating: 3 / 5

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Review: Going Too Far

Going Too Far, by Jennifer Echols. The GoodRead summary:
All Meg has ever wanted is to get away. Away from high school. Away from her backwater town. Away from her parents who seem determined to keep her imprisoned in their dead-end lives. But one crazy evening involving a dare and forbidden railroad tracks, she goes way too far...and almost doesn't make it back.

John made a choice to stay. To enforce the rules. To serve and protect. He has nothing but contempt for what he sees as childish rebellion, and he wants to teach Meg a lesson she won't soon forget. But Meg pushes him to the limit by questioning everything he learned at the police academy. And when he pushes back, demanding to know why she won't be tied down, they will drive each other to the edge -- and over....
You guys. I just really liked this book. In fact, I’d even go so far as to say that it was the best book I’ve read within the last few months. Which is not to say it was perfect, because I had a few issues with it, but I just got so sucked into this book and had no desire to put it down.

Meg has got issues, that’s for sure, what with her drinking, drug use, low-cut shirts, authority issues, illegal activities, panic attacks, and blue hair. And yet, for whatever reason, I immediately connected with her. I think it’s something in the way she’s so honest with herself and with others—she doesn’t BS her way around or usually let others get away with it either. Plus, she’s got this smart-aleck mouth that I can’t help but admire.

John’s got his share of issues as well, although it took longer for them to become obvious. He’s got his anger management problem, and his bridge obsession, and his tendencies towards jealousy and pettiness. But I liked him too, for the most part. He does one thing at the end that really pissed me off, and he never totally worked his way back into my good graces after that, but I just try to pretend like that part didn’t happen so I can go on liking him.

Honestly, considering both Meg’s and John’s issues, I’m a little worried about the future of their relationship. They both have this tendency to poke at each other’s sore spots and lash out without thinking. But I really want it to work out for them. And since they’re fictional, I have every hope that it does.

I was a little disappointed in the very end, though. I feel like the resolution fell slightly flat. The rest of the book was full of tension and drama and barely restrained passion, so I felt like the final resolution was too quick and calm and easy in comparison. It just didn’t seem to fit Meg and John, I guess. I did like, however, that it was Meg who puts things back together in the end. Not a girl to wait around for others to do things is our Meg. Yet another reason I loved her.

Overall, like I said at the beginning, I was a total sucker for this book. I’ve been in the mood for teen drama lately, and this book definitely fit the bill. But what I like about it was that it wasn't just drama for drama’s sake—there was unexpected substance and sincerity to the story and the characters too.

Rating: 4.5 / 5

Monday, January 14, 2013

Review: Glass Houses

Glass Houses (Morganville Vampires #1), by Rachel Caine. The GoodReads summary:
From the author of the popular Weather Warden series comes the debut of an exciting new series set in Morganville, Texas, where you would be well advised to avoid being out after dark.

College freshman Claire Danvers has had enough of her nightmarish dorm situation. When Claire heads off-campus, the imposing old house where she finds a room may not be much better. Her new roommates don't show many signs of life, but they'll have Claire's back when the town's deepest secrets come crawling out, hungry for fresh blood.
I knew by a few chapters in that I wasn’t going to like this book. And yet I kept on reading anyway because I really hoped that it was going to get better. Which sadly it didn’t. I just really wanted to like this book because I’ve been looking for a good paranormal series to get into ever since I finished the Vampire Academy books a WHILE ago. Alas, judging from this book, this is not the series for me.

Out of all the things that frustrated and annoyed me about the book, hands down the worst thing was Claire, the main character. She drove me beyond crazy, and I couldn’t find a single redeeming thing about her. Can I just list a few of the things that I disliked about her?
1) She’s totally a weak character and has to be saved by someone else every other chapter. And yet, she keeps doing stupid stuff and not listening to advice and runs around town like an idiot despite the fact that a bunch of different people want to kill her. And then she has to be saved by someone else AGAIN—I can’t think of a single time when she actually saves her own butt.

2) She refuses to leave school/town despite the fact that VAMPIRES are out to kill her. She keeps going on about how leaving school will ruin her future, but I’m just like, “Dude. Being DEAD will ruin your future.”

3) She thinks that just because she’s book-smart, she knows enough to screw over a whole society of vampires, even though she knows absolutely nothing about them. Which of course backfires on her.

4) She has basically no problem accepting that vampires and ghosts are real, but she refuses to believe that psychics could be real too? Where is the logic in that?
So those are just the main things that bug me about darling Claire. Ug. To be completely honest, I semi-hoped that the vampires would manage to kill her just so I didn’t have to deal with her any more.

I did think the whole idea of a town being run by vampires was interesting, but the book didn’t go into much detail about it, so it didn’t save the book for me. I will give the book props for ending with a good cliffhanger, but I don’t think I could endure any more of Claire in order to find out what happens next. I am kinda curious about how the whole series works out, but I seriously doubt I’ll be reading any of the other books.

Overall, definitely not the book for me. Claire just drove me too up the wall, and the rest of the characters and plot weren’t well-developed enough to redeem the book. I do know some people who enjoy this series, though, so if it sounds interesting to you, go on and check it out—it’s just really not my cup of tea.

Rating: 2 / 5

Friday, January 11, 2013

Review: My Life Next Door

My Life Next Door, by Huntley Fitzpatrick. The GoodReads summary:
The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, numerous, messy, affectionate. And every day from her balcony perch, seventeen-year-old Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs her terrace and changes everything. As the two fall fiercely in love, Jase's family makes Samantha one of their own. Then in an instant, the bottom drops out of her world and she is suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?
I thought the first three-fourths of this book were quite adorable. Jase and Samantha are just so cute together, and it was fun to see them fall in love. I loved their easy and uncomplicated relationship and how well they seem to mesh with each other. Individually, they’re both nice, laid-back people, and together they would probably win every cutest couple award.

The last fourth of the book I wasn’t quite as thrilled with. A Major Tragedy occurs, and while I thought Samantha’s internal struggle to do the right thing was well written, I thought Jase was a little too understanding about what happened. Not that I wanted him to be petty, but I find it hard to believe that anyone would be that understanding, especially at first. I also thought the resolution was a bit rushed and that the consequences of what happened were a little too easily fixed.

I think, overall, the secondary characters weren't especially well developed, but that didn’t stop me from loving some of them all the same. Jase’s sister Alice and her ever-changing hair were completely awesome, and I admired the way she balanced her crazy love life and bad-A attitude with her responsibilities to her family and nursing school. I also really came to like Tim, Samantha’s friend. At first I pretty much thought he was worthless, but as the story progressed he really started growing on me.

Overall, this book was adorably cute and fluffy until the Major Tragedy occurred, at which point I thought the book kinda lost a bit of its charm. But still, it was worth the read and I enjoyed most of it.

Rating: 3.5 / 5

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Review: Such a Rush

Such a Rush, by Jennifer Echols. The GoodReads summary:
Heaven Beach, South Carolina, is anything but, if you live at the low-rent end of town. All her life, Leah Jones has been the grown-up in her family, while her mother moves from boyfriend to boyfriend, letting any available money slip out of her hands. At school, they may diss Leah as trash, but she’s the one who negotiates with the landlord when the rent’s not paid. At fourteen, she’s the one who gets a job at the nearby airstrip.

But there’s one way Leah can escape reality. Saving every penny she can, she begs quiet Mr. Hall, who runs an aerial banner-advertising business at the airstrip and also offers flight lessons, to take her up just once. Leaving the trailer park far beneath her and swooping out over the sea is a rush greater than anything she’s ever experienced, and when Mr. Hall offers to give her cut-rate flight lessons, she feels ready to touch the sky.

By the time she’s a high school senior, Leah has become a good enough pilot that Mr. Hall offers her a job flying a banner plane. It seems like a dream come true . . . but turns out to be just as fleeting as any dream. Mr. Hall dies suddenly, leaving everything he owned in the hands of his teenage sons: golden boy Alec and adrenaline junkie Grayson. And they’re determined to keep the banner planes flying.

Though Leah has crushed on Grayson for years, she’s leery of getting involved in what now seems like a doomed business—until Grayson betrays her by digging up her most damning secret. Holding it over her head, he forces her to fly for secret reasons of his own, reasons involving Alec. Now Leah finds herself drawn into a battle between brothers—and the consequences could be deadly.
At a basic level, this book reminded me a lot of Jenny Han’s Summer books. There’s a girl and two brothers—one easygoing and fun, the other dark and brooding—and while the girl has always been in love with the serious brother, there’s the prospect of some romance with the other brother too. Not to mention there’s also summer and the beach. Which is not to say it was too similar to the Summer books—“Such a Rush” is very much its own story; it just gave me a similar vibe to the other.

I really liked Leah as a main character. She’s different from the usual YA heroine—having grown up in trailer parks with a terrible mother, Leah’s used to being seen as white trash. She dresses in low cut shirts and short shorts and has a reputation of being easy. But Leah is secretly really awesome. She’s loyal and responsible and not afraid to be tough and bad-A to those who try to drag her down. Plus, she goes after her dream of learning to fly, despite all the odds stacked against her. She rocks, basically, despite making her fair share of mistakes. Grayson on the other hand, I was not really a fan of. I hate it in books when the guy acts like a total jerk and it's supposed to be okay because deep down he has a good heart. I'm just like, "Dude, I don't care about his motivations--he's still being a jerk." And Grayson definitely had some jerky tendencies that prevented me from falling for him, although I will admit he does have a sexy bad-boy appeal going on.

This is only my second Jennifer Echols book, but I think she’s won me over, despite my dislike of Grayson. I avoided her books for so long for some inexplicable reason, but now that I’ve read a couple, I’m becoming a bit of a fan. From my limited experience, it seems to me that her books tend to be on the more mature end of YA, both in terms of the characters’ ages and sexuality, and “Such a Rush” definitely fell into that category. Leah is no naïve suburban princess, and it definitely shows in her language and actions. But the book never crossed the line into trashy, so I was fine with it.

Overall, it’s not necessarily a book I would recommend to younger teens, but I enjoyed it quite a bit. I thought Leah was a refreshingly imperfect character, and—like I did with the other Echols book I read—I adored the drama, drama, drama.

Rating: 4 / 5

Friday, January 4, 2013

Review: Pushing the Limits

Pushing the Limits, by Katie McGarry. The GoodReads summary:
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.
Since I’d read mixed reviews of this book, I was a little apprehensive going in. But as it turned out, I ended up enjoying it quite a bit. It’s a teen romance of the same type as Simone Elkeles’s Perfect Chemistry series—full of lots of drama, cheesy dialog, and making out. But those things worked for me in the Perfect Chemistry books, and they worked for me here too.

And I’m warning you—I’m not kidding about the cheesy dialog. But while it made me almost roll my eyes more than a few times, it never quite crossed the line into actual eye-rolling territory. And aside from the writing sometimes being over the top, I thought the book was actually pretty well written. The story flowed fairly seamlessly, and nothing in the writing ever really pulled me out of the narrative.

Neither Echo nor Noah ever quite won me over, but they didn’t bug me either. So while I didn’t become super invested in the story on their behalf, I did want to find out the secrets in their pasts badly enough to keep on reading. The secondary characters in the book are fairly flat, but since Echo and Noah and all their drama looms larger than life, I didn’t really miss having any strong side characters.

Overall, if you’re in the mood for some dramatic teen romance, I think this book is a pretty good choice. While the story is probably totally unrealistic, it was still infinitely readable and quite enjoyable, if a bit of a guilty pleasure.

Rating: 4 / 5
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