Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

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Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarryPushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

Series: Pushing the Limits #1

Rating: 3 of 5 stars

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.

Pushing the Limits and I most certainly got off on the wrong foot. The narration was embarrassingly transparent, and it didn’t flow well or naturally. I had a hard time following the events of Echo’s therapy session with her father, new stepmother and new school counselor due to this glaring inelegance. It honestly made me uncomfortable and apprehensive to the point where I made my first status update “Kinda hate it.”

And that was at 3%.

For a long time, I put the book down, unable to swallow the clunky exposition. I got it–Echo’s life sucked. She was a loner and a social outcast. A “freak.” Her father is a negligent, controlling bastard. Her new stepmother fits the evil shoe. And her brother and mother, the only two people who understand her now, are gone. One dead, one insane.

To make matters worse, we meet Noah, and he’s okay because he’s rough around the edges, but the first thing he does is pointlessly goad Echo with lame teases and a dumb “makin’ fun of her is FUN!” attitude. Please. Spare me these sentiments, authors. I make friends with these people–the boys who think it’s fun to poke and prod at sore spots of someone else. They’re assholes, and we only get along because I’m an asshole, too, and even I get sick of that shit.

So then, between Noah and Echo, Pushing the Limits didn’t look like it would pry much sympathy from me.

Around this time, I had just finished a zillionth draft of several big project manuscripts of mine and studying hard for work, so I kinda went braindead, and one night while browsing Twitter, I ran across Ashleigh of birth of a new witch‘s tweets citing a “ten percent rule” for reluctant reading. I thought, since I had nothing better to do but pass the time and wanted to get back to reading something (anything! My Nook Anaïs was nowhere to be reached at the time), I’d give Pushing the Limits until the 10% mark to grab me.

What did it was a combination of Aires, Echo’s brother, having died serving in the Marine Corps and Jacob and Tyler, Noah’s brothers, meaning so much to him that he made me kinda do it, too.

Aires’ death hit me hard because, as not many of y’all know, I’m in the Army, and I’m currently forward deployed, and although I’ve never been to Afghanistan, war is war. Service is service. And brothers are brothers. I read about Aires and felt for him. For Echo, who had been left behind. For his family, who everyday had to cope with his death.

Fuck that was my sympathy button, and author McGarry pushed that shit hard.

And then, after that, Noah’s brothers came into the picture, and he loved them so much, and I have the hugest soft spot for a man who cares about his family. (Seriously, it’s bad. I’m up to episode 9 of American Horror Story, and I’ve been with the father, Ben, the whole time because, although he is wrong is so many, many ways, he also defended his family. Even if in all the wrong ways. The road to hell may be paved with good intentions, but the road to heaven ain’t paved with ill-will, I’ll tell you that much.)

(I don’t know if anyone reads my reviews, actually, but I feel bed for anyone who might. I’m terrible at this. Hahahah.)

(Anyway…)

So Noah won points there, but he also won points with me because he was a pothead. And that’s not to say I’m advocating teenagers doing drugs. Or whatever. I give two fucks about a kid smokin weed, whether he does it or not. But the reality is that there are kids who do. I grew up with kids like them. And you’ll never know who of them are the best people in the world. Some of the bravest. Kindest. Smartest. Strongest. Like Beth and Isaiah. I just… like, seriously, why is everyone afraid to write books about these kids? They’re angry and hurt and grasping at straws as to the meaning for their life. They just so happen to get high. Like. Fuck. I know Noah quit and all because he had wanted to get custody of his brothers, but that’s what people do. When they can’t get high, they brush up and move on. Not always. Sometimes, not forever. But fuck. Fuck. It happens. Some teenagers smoke weed.

…I’m done. With that. Little part. Just… yeah.

So, I was all wrapped up in these two individually, but the only reason I stuck around for the romance was for Noah (no, not ’cause he was a stoner, but because he was a really sincere guy to Echo). He held her hand and asked after her. And even when she was ridiculous to him, he wanted to be with her despite claiming he didn’t “do” attachments.

But then in the middle it became too much for me, and I put the book down again just for a minute to breathe again.

When I came back, everything was all happy flowers and sunshine, and I honestly felt robbed by the neatly bow-tied resolution that happened after Echo found out her mother was actually a psychotic bird… the way, you know, everyone always said. Seriously. Rainbows. With unicorns prancing and the whole nine. Where was the indignation Echo felt towards her father for his disastrously misguided parenting? His priorities? She didn’t have to be furious, but she didn’t have to be so understanding and kid-friendly about it, either.

This is why I can’t read YA all the time. I tire of the unrealistic happiness that ties up a story which is supposed to be “gritty” or “dark.” The darkest thing about this book was Echo’s memory loss.

In the end, I wasn’t wowed. It’s not a bad read, and I can see why so many have fallen prey to its spell, but maybe I feel like it’s far too PG for the subject matter. I need something violent. And bloody.

Or perhaps my marathon watching of seasons 1 and 2 of American Horror Story spoiled my enjoyment of the lighter “dark” stuff? Hm.

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