Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Review: Take Me On (McGarry)

AUTHOR: Katie McGarry
SERIES: Pushing the Limits, book 4
PUBLISHER: HarlequinTeen
ISBN: 9780373211180
PAGES: 544
SOURCE: NetGalley
GENRE: contemporary fiction, romance
GIVE IT TO: HS, adults
SUMMARY: Told in alternating voices. Rich and spoiled West Young just got kicked out of his parents' house. When he inadvertently gets involved in a fight, West accepts a challenge to fight in an upcoming mixed martial arts tournament. At the heart of the fight is Haley Williams, a high school senior who was once a kickboxing champion. Haley agrees to train West for the upcoming fight. Despite their vow to remain "just friends," West and Haley cannot deny their growing attraction.

IF THIS BOOK WERE FOOD, IT WOULD BE: a huge bowl of ice cream--good, tasty fun even though it's probably a bit too much

REVIEW: I have read and enjoyed all of the books in the Pushing the Limits series, and I liked this one, too. For the record, this series does not have to be read in order. Each story is about a different character who is in some way related to a character in a previous book. A sort-of literary Six Degrees of Separation.

Take Me On is easy to get into, and I liked both Haley and West as characters. I believed in their attraction and their relationship. I liked getting some snippets of Rachel and Isaiah's story, though it didn't really introduce anything new since the ending of Crash Into You. I love that Haley is a kickboxer and that the female character is teaching the male how to defend himself in a sport she knows far more about than he does. I devoured the whole thing in only two days.

Surprisingly though, Take Me On is my least favorite in the series so far. On its own, it's fine, but after reading the other three, it feels formulaic. Boy meets girl. Boy and girl find themselves in a dangerous situation. Boy and girl work together but vow to remain "just friends." Boy and girl give in to attraction. Boy and girl have a million reasons why they can't be together, yet none of them is really that big a deal...it's fun reading and engaging, but it isn't any different from the rest of the series or many others like it.

I also didn't really buy the premise of training West for a cage fight with Conner/Matt. Matt is a jealous control-freak who beat up his girlfriend and left her a bloody mess on the floor. His brother Conner is on drugs. It's difficult for me to believe that either one would have the restraint or desire to wait for a MMA tournament--a whopping two months away--instead of just jumping West after school or in a dark alley. The whole story is based on this premise, yet it contradicts everything we learn about Matt and Conner as characters.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Enjoyable despite some flaws in logic and similarity to others in the series. Fans will still enjoy it though.

STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: It's too mature for middle school, but this series is a must for high schools and public libraries.

READALIKES: others in the Pushing the Limits series (McGarry), anything by Simone Elkeles, Hundred Oaks series (Kenneally)

  • Overall: 4/5
  • Creativity: 3/5
  • Characters: 4/5
  • Engrossing: 5/5
  • Writing: 4/5
  • Appeal to teens: 5/5
  • Appropriate length to tell the story: 3/5--a bit long

  • Language: high--lots of profanity, including F-bomb
  • Sexuality: high--lots of kissing and touching; one naked scene without intercourse; discussion of intercourse, condoms, virginity
  • Violence: mild-medium--story centers on kickboxing and mixed martial arts
  • Drugs/Alcohol: medium--one minor character described as a "druggie", brief mention on marijuana purchases, one character is a drug dealer
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