Monday, May 27, 2013

ARC Book Review: Dare You To by Katie McGarry

Title: Dare You To
Author: Katie McGarry
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: May 28th, 2013
Rating: 3/5

Cover Impressions: 
For regular readers of YA romance, this cover is sure to please.  The models represent the characters well, the scene is hot and steamy and the backdrop and font add a touch of edge and interest.  For me, as an often reluctant YA romance reader, it is a little too run of the mill to match up with the phenomenal writing that I expect from the author of Pushing the Limits.

The Gist:
Beth Risk is constantly trying to save her mother.  When she comes to the rescue once again, she ends up in jail and is bailed out by her uncle on one condition - that she leave her friends and mother behind to come live with him.  Under her uncle's watchful eye, she tries to make a place for her in a town that she thought she had left behind and finds love in the most unlikely of places - with the town's golden boy.  Ryan Stone appears to have it all, but is dealing with a seriously fragmented family and trying to decide if the future that he has worked so hard for is his own dream, or his father's. 


Dare You To had some pretty big shoes to fill.  Katie's last book, Pushing the Limits, easily made my top ten of last year.  While the follow up is enjoyable, it is not nearly as strong as its predecessor.  I found the characters this time around to be harder to connect with.  I liked Beth from the previous novel, but her dogged determination to rescue her mother was hard to watch.  Ryan, however, I really didn't like.  He claims to be a gentleman who insists that men treat women with respect, but from the very first scene he showed that (particularly through his "dares") he is just as capable of demeaning women as the next guy.  My dislike did fade as the book went on, but it made the first half a little difficult to get through. 

I was glad to see that the whole dare thing was put to bed fairly quickly and that it didn't result in the expected cliche (a la She's All That and a thousand other movies).  The connection between Beth and Ryan was HOTTT, though I could have done with a little less on again, off again.  I was also happy to see some depth of Ryan's character once we begin to learn a little more of his family situation.  McGarry really knows what she is doing with character development. Dare You To shows a nice juxtaposition between the "golden boy" and the damaged girl and explores how both of their lives are challenging even though only one appears so from the outside.  Beth begins as the complete badass that we remember from Pushing The Limits but sees some considerable growth by the end.  The scenes with Beth and her mother were heartbreaking, terrifying and made for some real excitement to what is not a particularly action fueled plot.

Dare You To was not a particularly weak book, but it did take me a considerable amount of time to get through.  I am chalking this up to my difficulty connecting with the characters and my inability to immerse myself in a plot that is mainly about the romance between two teenagers.   I would still recommend this as a strong contemporary romance for those students who love that genre. 

Teaching/Parental Notes:

16 and up
Gender: Female
Sex: Kissing, intercourse between teenagers (not graphic)
Violence: Physical Fighting, Child (Teen) Abuse
Inappropriate Language: Ass, Fuck, Dick, Bastard, Whore, Slut
Substance Use/Abuse: Underage drinking, marijuana use, heroin use


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