By Katie McGarry Editions: ebook, hardcover, paperback Expected publication: May 28th 2013 by Harlequin Teen Genre: New Adult Contemporary / Romance Source: NetGalley
Ryan lowers his lips to my ear. “Dance with me, Beth.”
“No.” I whisper the reply. I hate him and I hate myself for wanting him to touch me again….
“I dare you…”
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….
Ryan Stone is the town golden boy, a popular baseball star jock-with secrets he can’t tell anyone. Not even the friends he shares everything with, including the constant dares to do crazy things. The craziest? Asking out the Skater girl who couldn’t be less interested in him.
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…
Bomy’s Flutter: Effing brilliant!!
That just happened. My second Bomy Award of Excellence for the year just went out to Dare You To by Katie McGarry. I’ll say it again, because I feel like I have to: this is effing brilliant. I loved this so much I chose to speak to you about it today, on my birthday. Because I can’t think of a better way to celebrate my birthday than doing something I love, in our case talking about effing brilliant novels.
The world of this novel is a contemporary picture of two opposite worlds, much like Pushing the Limits was. In our case, it’s the female MC who comes from the bad part of town, or really the trailer-park, drug-dealing, abuse-filled part of town. Beth’s world was a stark and hopeless place, it made me fee like I couldn’t breathe each time we revisited it even by mention. Ryan, the male MC, comes from this ‘perfect’ family, wealthy, well-know and respected in their town, church-goers, ball-playing sons, the whole package. Of course, upon closer inspection, you learn to appreciate just how dysfunctional and fake ‘perfect’ is. Two opposite sides of the world collide when Beth and Ryan meet, and there are sparks flying everywhere and tough, really tough decisions made as a result.
As you most likely remember, I loved Pushing the Limits – in fact, it was one of my Bomy Awards of Excellence of 2012 (see a pattern here? lol!). But I will stand here before you all and say I loved Dare You To even more. Obviously, the writing, worldbuilding and etc were just as fabulous in both novels. But what was even better here were the characters.
While in Pushing the Limits, the ‘underdog’ in the main couple was Noah, here the ‘underdog’ is Beth. Screwed-up, cynical, snarky, loyal, genius, exasperating Beth. I could probably sing odes to the greatness of this character, she’s that good. With a past that would give us nightmares and all odds stacked up against her, Beth is a work of art. She easily flips off everyone when they get on her bad side, she loves fiercely and yet at the same time she’s terrified of getting hurt again. Because she got hurt a lot, to the point of horror if you ask me. She’s probably the most unapologetic character I’ve read, and to me there’s simply nothing better out there. Beth is marvelous. I loved her with all my heart, she made me laugh out loud countless times, she made me cry, she made me hope and dream and fervently desire a happy ending for her. Thank God Katie McGarry was of the mind to give her one.
Ryan, the male MC of the novel, was a really interesting character too. From the outside he was the ‘perfect’ Beth dreaded and actually dreaded, if you ask me. He came from a wealthy (but dysfunctional) family that kept up appearances with a reverence fit for a better cause, he was the star jock high school dude who never lost and wow-ed. Not the type I’d much care about, I’ll be honest and admit. The ‘popular’, ‘perfect’ and such types bore me out of my mind. Ryan had a drive though that made me really like him; and there was more about him, a lot more then just that veneer of bleh (by my standards). In the end, he finally pulled his head out of his derriere and did the right thing by Beth, by his brother, even by his parents. I liked him and learned to like him more and more as the story went, but had this been a story about his and Gwen’s angsty love story I might have rather shoot myself in the toes then read about it. Coupled with Beth, he was awesome. On his own, he was good. Coupled with someone else, well, let’s just say I wouldn’t have been too keen on finding out what would happen next. Let there be no mistake about the fact he was built really, really well as a character! I’m starting to think Katie McGarry can’t build a character anything but brilliant. It’s just that some types I’ll respond to better on a personal level, and others not so much. Ryan walked a fine line between meh and hmm, if you know what I mean.
But Beth and Ryan together, it was beautiful. Poetry, in a way. I mean, disregarding the fact that they had awesomesauce chemistry and were hot as hell together with banter and tension going on, there were moments – like the beer-in-the-field-barn moment, the rain moment, the ribbon moment – that just took my breath away, they were that good. Seriously, soundly amazing couple, because they were both broken and they didn’t just fit together perfectly at first try. It was a process of making room for one another in this delicate balance, and they worked together on making it happen. I loved them together, I just did.
Oh, Isaiah… my heart broke for him. But in my heart of hearts I’d known since Pushing the Limits that him and Beth were that kind of complicated that generally gets solved in the simply but heartbreaking way you’ll find out about. I’m really looking forward to reading Crash Into You, Isaiah’s story and third for-sure jewel in this series.
Favorite Character: Beth, no doubts or questions about it.
The story was a beautiful version of the opposites-attract scenario, with Beth and Ryan coming from entirely different worlds. I love this scenario a lot by definition, because it’s succulent-conflict riddled. But it would be unfair to reduce this jewel of a novel to a sum of elements, because beyond them all it’s almost like a living, breathing thing of beauty. It’s very alert, and there’s a lot going on but more emotional action then per-se action, I’d say. That, to me, is fabulous. Sure, there are many things going on all the time, but the emphasis falls on what’s going on emotionally, and boy is this a roller-coaster of a ride.
The first person narrative from Beth and Ryan’s POV works gorgeously. Characters have their own voices, very distinct, and they’re written beautifully. I think my absolute favorite thing about the writing is how events are focused in these poignant moments, awesomely built scenes that feel incredibly real and stay with you. Ask me what could be done better for my enjoyment about this novel. My answer is nothing. I simply can’t think what could have been better.
The cover of the hardcover US edition is genius and would get me to impulse-buy the book upon first sight. But then again, the blurb would do the sam thing, and the author’s name is an instant-buy point as well. Everything about this novel screams at you to read it, and I’m here to tell the only right decision is to go ahead and do just that.
All in all, this is a fabulous novel, something I urge you to try for yourself and trust you’ll most likely love as much as I did. It has everything you could possibly want from it and then some: authentic and brilliant characters, tension enough to cause the emotional equivalent of nuclear explosions, gripping storytelling and genius writing. I dare say Dare You To has got it all. I dare you to not like it, how about that? 😀