Dare You To by Katie McGarry
Published: 7 June 2013 (MiraInk)
Format: Kindle e-book
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Plot Summary (from Goodreads):
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 absolutely adored McGarry's first book - Pushing the Limits - and I've been dying to read Dare You To ever since I finished that and read the sneak peak in the back. When it was made available for 99p on Kindle Daily Deal I grabbed it and couldn't wait to start! Dare You To follows Beth Risk who ends up being swept away from her friends and into a new life. There she meets school baseball star Ryan who has a penchant for dares, asking out Beth being one of them.
This is the second book in the Pushing the Limits series but it can be pretty much read as a standalone. If features appearances from Echo and Noah (who take centre stage in the first book) but the focus is on Beth and her story, and although she's introduced in book one, I don't think you'd miss out anything by not having read it.
Dare You To is told in alternating chapters between Ryan and Beth. The book opens with Ryan and his baseball teammates playing dares (as the title would suggest!) which is where the two main characters meet. They don't start off on the best footing and for the first few chapters the book flits between the two characters with little interaction of the two. I loved discovering more about Ryan and Beth's characters in these opening chapters.
Beth herself is an incredible character. I love that she is not perfect - far from it - but I really liked seeing that side of her that is full of attitude. She swears, drinks, smokes - you name it. But whilst she's this rebellious, outspoken character she also had an incredible vulnerability to which is touched on a lot in Dare You To. The relationship between Beth and her mother is heartbreaking and tackled some really hard-hitting issues. Beth is completely a victim of some pretty rubbish circumstances and really felt for her. The decisions she has to make throughout the story are so tough! But what's great about Beth is that she's smart, and she makes you laugh. There's so much more to her, and she develops so much during the course of the book. I loved the journey she went on and how the changes she went through endeared me to her even more!
I was totally a fan of Ryan too *swoon*. He may be the school baseball star, but it was his hidden writing ability that made me fall for him. The book is set during senior year and so Ryan has to face up to his future, and I think a lot of people will be able to relate to the choices he has to make. In Ryan's case, he must choose between playing baseball or following his academic potential. I thought the exploration of the pressure Ryan was feeling from his parents was really well done. It's all about self-discovery for him. Ryan also has some family drama going on and I loved the plot line surrounding Ryan's brother.
This may be a love story but it's far from your light and fluffy romance. Dare You To is an intense read that I found myself being completely swept up in. Not only do Beth and Ryan have their own personal demons to face up to, but the way they handle their feelings for each other makes for a pretty intense relationship too. I adore the way Katie McGarry can conjure up this fantastic chemistry between her characters. I felt it for Echo and Noah in Pushing the Limits and I definitely got it when it came to Beth and Ryan. The sexual tension was incredible and they definitely had that spark!
People who have read Pushing the Limits, like me, will probably have been waiting to see what would happen with Beth and Isaiah. I suppose I expected them to be together, but Dare You To addresses their friendship and relationship perfectly and I think things were nicely wrapped up between them so that I understood why this story focuses on Beth and Ryan's relationship.
I've already talked about how much I loved Beth, but I thought there were some great themes addressed in Dare You To when it came to her. One was trust, and how Beth's ability to trust those around her has been tainted by her past. It was so sad to see her internal battle to trust people like her uncle Scott, her mum, Ryan and even best friend Isaiah. I loved the way the book looked at family, and how Beth and Ryan both have to conquer their family issues and how when you're a teenager, the weight of responsibility to hold everything together can be overwhelming. I really loved the friendship moments as well, from Beth and Isaiah's friendship to her ability to make and regain friends at her new school. I really loved Beth's friend Lacy and the dynamic between Ryan and his baseball buddies (and their teenage boy dares!).
I was absolutely absorbed in Dare You To and every time I put it down I just couldn't wait to get back to it. I love how it doesn't shy away from things like drink and drugs, abuse, sexuality and that it's full of true to life swear-y teens who get up to no good. Whilst it's an intense read, it's also an enjoyable one, because of the amazing characters and the fantastic chemistry. There were a lot of twists that had my heart in my mouth and I couldn't wait to find out what happened. Plus Ryan is my new favourite boy. Yes please. Katie's McGarry's books are definitely up there on my "must read" list and I'll be counting down the days til the release of the next installment (Crash Into You -Isaiah's story).
What to read next: Crash Into You by Katie McGarry
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