AUTHOR: Katie McGarry
SEQUEL: Dare You To
PUBLISHER: Harlequin Teen
PUBLICATION DATE: July 31, 2012
GENRE: contemporary romance
GIVE IT TO: HS girls who loved Elkeles’s Perfect Chemistry
SUMMARY: Echo Emerson doesn’t remember how she got those long scars on her arms. After returning to school after her hospitalization, Echo’s only wish is to be “normal” again. When her counselor offers her an after-school tutoring job, Echo isn’t sure she wants to work with dark and dangerous Noah Hutchinson. But both Echo and Noah have skeletons in their closets, and it seems the only way to get past them is through each other.
REVIEW: Pushing the Limits is a fun, engrossing read that teen readers will devour in the same way they devoured Elkeles’s Perfect Chemistry trilogy. Is it perfect? No. At times, dialogue is confusing, unrealistic, and downright cheesy. Noah’s use of the endearment “baby” just about drove me nuts. And while I liked Echo and understand where she’s coming from, I found myself questioning her constant self-sacrificing. Seriously, is she a troubled teen girl or her family’s martyr?
While it does show how people are not always as they seem, Pushing the Limits is full of stereotypes I’ve seen all over YA literature: the beautiful-rich-troubled popular girl, the tough-hot-sensitive badass guy, the beautiful-shallow-mean popular friend, the loyal best friend, the innocent little brothers, the abusive foster families, the caring-smart-unconventional school counselor, etc. If stereotypes bother you, you might want to skip this one.
On the other hand…
Who cares?! So what if Pushing the Limits has a few flaws? It is fun, and the romance is smokin’ hot. Noah and Echo are likeable, and I enjoyed the secondary storylines. As with Perfect Chemistry, I went into “the zone” and completely ignored the world around me for a few hours while I read. I am thankful it’s summer break because Pushing the Limits kept me turning pages until 4:15 AM. I just HAD to find out how it all worked out in the end. And speaking of the end…My NetGalley e-ARC concludes with a nice little surprise–the first chapter of the upcoming companion to Pushing the Limits, Dare You To. I can’t wait to read Beth’s story–it definitely starts off with a bang!
THE BOTTOM LINE: Despite a few minor flaws, Pushing the Limits is page-turning fun that will no doubt be a hit with teen (and adult!) romance readers.
STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: Because of mature content, I can’t get it for the general collection, but I’ll probably get it for my “high school” shelf in my office. Several teachers read from this section, and I do occasionally lend them to certain students. My target reader for Pushing the Limits is a troubled girl who has experienced way more in her life than anything that might appear in a YA book. Books like Pushing the Limits and Perfect Chemistry have huge appeal with girls who have had (and probably still have) tough lives. Helping students mentally escape their drama for a little while is the best gift I can give them. If it makes them better, more engaged readers in the process, then Triple Word Score for me.
READALIKES: Perfect Chemistry trilogy (Elkeles); Leaving Paradise and Return to Paradise (Elkeles); You Against Me (Downham); Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (Cohn, Levithan)
- 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: 5/5
- Language: moderate-high; lots of language but it works for the character; includes plenty f-bombs and sh–
- Sexuality: moderate-high; appreciation of cleavage and other parts, boy’s chest; a few references to erection; one major character is sexually experienced; lots of talk of sex even though no intercourse actually happens
- Violence: mild-moderate; two boys get into a fist fight; abusive foster families; attempted murder-suicide
- Drugs/Alcohol: high; characters get drunk at parties, at a school dance; some major characters smoke marijuana regularly