TITLE: Pushing the Limits
AUTHOR: Katie McGarry
PUBLISHER: Harlequin Teen
PAGES: 384 (Hardcover)
Note: An ARC of this novel was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Fresh and compelling, Pushing the Limits is an intense novel from debut author Katie McGarry. An eye-opening look into the lives of two troubled teenagers, this story is one to be read in one sitting.
In essence Noah and Echo are eerily similar yet at the same time completely different; both have dark pasts, yet one still strives to excel and the other has given up completely. The characterisation of Noah was slightly contradicting; snarky and crude on the outside whilst on the inside he was just as emotionally damaged as Echo. Sometimes it felt like the burden he carried was just too much for one teenage boy, but then you come to realise that for many people around the world they have to deal with just as much – or more – every single day.
As for Echo…well, for the most part she seemed split in two. On the one side she was determined to please her father and play the shy, traumatised, insecure girl who desperately needed to be loved. Yet there’s also a side to her that’s willing to look at confidential files and comfort other people, even when their troubles were practically a speck of dust compared to the mountain of her own. It was nice seeing how she was slowly transformed by Noah and their relationship, but while at times it seemed sizzling I just couldn’t help but feel that she wasn’t entirely…there, all the time.
As a rule I am not a fan of dual narrative, I find it can lessen my connection to the characters and make things totally confusing. However, in this case I think I can make an exception. Though I felt that the narrative swapped a bit too quickly for my taste it suited the story and allowed for the fleshing out of other sub-plots, which really added more layers to what could be quite a superficial novel. The problem with Noah’s brothers, for example, allowed me to sympathise more readily with Noah, something which could be a little difficult at times due to the choices he makes.
It was the individual issues linked with both characters that really propelled through the story, whether it was finding out what really happened that night or how it would all work out for Noah and his future. If there’s one thing you can say about this book: it certainly doesn’t lack drama. In fact, it’s dripping with it, and though it could be a tad overwhelming at points that’s what really kept me hooked to the plot.
Though this book was quite sound overall, there were a few things that really didn’t float my boat. Take Grace; she served no conceivable point other than to create sympathy for Echo, and even then I found her to be rather a useless character who is unbelievably selfish and not worth carrying the label of ‘friend’. Luke also appeared to fall into this category, and though I appreciate the fact that he was meant to bring Echo and Noah together all he produced was a load of anger and feminist remarks on my part.
A well-earned 3.5 stars, Pushing the Limits is a promising new novel that was perfect for reading on a rainy day. Only time will tell if McGarry’s next novel, Dare You To, is as much of a success as this one was.\