Book Review: Dare You To By Katie Mcgarry

Book Review: Dare You To By Katie McgarryTitle: Dare You To
Author: Katie McGarry
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: 22nd May 2013
Goodreads Summary: 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….

{ Review }

Dare You To is the ‘sequel’ to the very successful Pushing the Limits. I say ‘sequel’ because this is actually a standalone novel as part of a series of books based on different couplings from the same group of friends. This book focuses on Beth, if you’ve read Pushing the Limits you’ll remember her as the b**** who didn’t like Echo, and Ryan, a high school jock set to be a baseball pro.

Beth has just been forced to live with her rich uncle, Scott, who was very close to Beth as she grew up, but left at the age of 18 to be a pro baseball player. Beth hasn’t seen him since and hasn’t forgiven him for leaving and never coming back. However, after she’s arrested, taking the fall for her drunk mother, Scott steps in and takes custody of her. Beth resists her new life in Scott’s perfect house in a town with perfect people and she resents him for taking her away from her friends (Isaac and Noah from Pushing the Limits). It turns out golden boy Ryan is her uncle’s neighbour and Scott asks Ryan to show Beth around. Not wanting to do anything to upset the man who could help him with his baseball career, Ryan keeps popping up in Beth’s life and won’t leave her alone. What’s more, Ryan and Beth have actually met before when Ryan was dared to get her number in a takeaway shop, not long before Beth’s arrival. Beth hates Ryan and her new life and Ryan never loses and is determined to win this dare but neither of them bank on falling for each other.

What’s great about this novel is that it deals with several different themes, not just teenage romance, as it would first appear. Another major theme is dysfunctional families, of which there are many. Both Beth and Ryan have incredibly dysfunctional families: Beth is living with her uncle because her drunk mother can’t look after her and Ryan’s seemingly perfect family are hiding the fact that their eldest son, Ryan’s brother, is gay. Beth and Ryan’s family backgrounds are the complete opposite of each other and yet they are somehow similar. I would say that Beth’s story takes precedence in this novel as it’s more complex and most of the things that happen are somehow linked to her story. These themes give the novel that extra depth and makes the novel much more interesting to read than your average romance.

Katie McGarry’s writing is just as good as it’s always been and she has created another brilliant novel with Dare You To. Her writing is addictive and once you get started you just can’t stop reading until you reach the conclusion. Her writing can make you swoon but it can also make you feel like your heart is breaking. Once this story gets going you start to feel connected to both the main characters, Beth and Ryan, and you can’t help but root for them. This story is written using alternating perspectives and the switchover between the two is seamless and frequent keeping things fresh and giving you two perspectives on every situation.

Although this was a very good novel, I wouldn’t say that it’s particularly original as it uses the same basic framework that Pushing the Limits and many other new adult novels use. It’s predictable as the characters’ reveal their plans for the future right from the beginning and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out what’s going to happen. The novel is also rather slow to get started and the first 50% wasn’t all that interesting but I kept reading because I still wanted to find out more. Perhaps the reason that Dare You To isn’t as successful as Pushing the Limits is because the subject matter that it deals with is a lot less heavy than that in PtL, therefore the as a reader you feel slightly less emotionally involved. Sure, both characters have complicated pasts (and presents) but it is the age old story of one seemingly perfect person falling in love with an outcast.

All in all, Dare You To is a fantastic novel, though not as good as Pushing the Limits. It could’ve done with a bit more originality but McGarry has created another fantastic novel that teens will lap up. I would highly recommend this to fans of Katie McGarry and contemporary romance.

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