Author Info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Source: Publisher via Netgalley
Buy the Book: Amazon | The Book Depository
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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....
I had mixed feelings about the first book Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry. I felt nothing for Echo and Noah’s relationships during the first half of the story however they eventually grew on me as the plot progressed. I admit that some of the moments between them were absolutely heart-wrenching and it was overall a pleasant read with a satisfying ending.
In a way, I also had a similar experience with the sequel. Dare You To follows Beth’s story after the events in Pushing the Limits as she moves to a new town with her estranged uncle, a baseball player who is regarded as a local celebrity and hero. There were a lot of “small town” vibes throughout the book unlike the more urban city setting in PTL. Forget about any semblance of anonymity or privacy as everyone knows each other here. I swear any gossip travels at light speed whether it’d be from the baseball coach, parents, teachers or town council members. Every single one of them seems to be always kept in the loop. It’s probably just me, but I felt that it was quite suffocating at times, however the setting was interesting and quite refreshingly different from what I’m used to.
At first I disliked Ryan and the constant references to dares in the beginning. I was frustrated with his desperation and obsession to fulfil useless dares purely for the sake of stroking his ego and proving a point to his friends. Furthermore it was hypocritical that he used girls for such superficial games yet he insisted not long afterwards that “girls will be treated with respect” and “won’t tolerate anyone disrespecting [Beth]” (e-ARC copy). Also, I found Beth to be really annoying to read in PTL and I was unsure of what to make of her perspective prior to reading Dare You To.
Needless to say, if there is anything that McGarry is impeccable at, it is the wonderful character development that makes her books well worth reading. It was easy to be emotionally invested into their relationship as well as its ups and downs. There were a few sweet moments that were absolutely heart-warming to read. To be honest, I couldn’t imagine Beth and Ryan together at first however I should have given McGarry more credit. Even though Beth wasn’t the most appealing person to walk on earth (her attitude towards Echo was unnecessarily harsh and unfounded), she still had a strong voice and it was easy to be sympathetic to her actions.
I also found Ryan’s reactions to his family situation to be believable. His goals and desires were relatable and it was satisfying to watch him grow from being a jerk in the beginning. However a warning to any reader who isn’t familiar with baseball or lives outside of the US, there were a LOT of baseball references in this book especially with the numerous scenes describing the games. I was often confused by the terminology and jargon however it didn’t significantly disrupt the story flow. The plot and pacing was improved from PTL and so there were no complaints there.
The only major quibble I had with the book really was with the misunderstandings and high school drama towards the end which was frustrating and annoying to read. After all the tribulations that Beth and Ryan had gone through most of the book, I thought that they were better than to be affected by such cliché plot devices. However I guess it realistically portrayed their insecurities due to their young age anyway.
Overall, Dare You To was an enjoyable and emotionally gripping story that would leave readers satisfied. I would recommend it to fans of Pushing the Limits or of anything YA contemporary. I definitely can’t wait for Isaiah’s story in the third book Crash Into You.
An electronic advance reading copy was provided by the publisher. This did not influence my opinion in any way.