June 21, 2013

Review: Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

Title: Pushing the Limits (Pushing the Limits #1)
Author: Katie McGarry
Release Date: July 31st, 2012
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Page Count: 392
Source: Borrowed from the New York Public Library
Rating: Emotional Rollercoaster Ride, Baby
No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with "freaky" scars on her arms. Even Echo can't remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal. But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo's world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible.

Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she'll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again.

[Summary Source: Goodreads]

Echo was a popular girl dating a hot guy. But then, one day, this crazy, scary, tragic event goes down and Echo can't remember any of it. AND she walks out of it with scars all up and down her arms. She dumps her boyfriend and retreats into herself while sort of keeping her friends. A bunch of time passes - y'know, just enough to put Echo safely in the high school outcast category AND out of the immediate danger zone of whatever happened to her - before she ends up in the office of yet ANOTHER school guidance counselor at the start of the book.

Noah is a foster kid and a pothead. Only, there's more to it than that. He's got two little brothers who live with a family who hates Noah and never lets him see them - because obvs Noah got in trouble for beating up his foster dad who was beating his own kid. So at the beginning of this book, Noah's on his way to the new guidance counselor's office to talk bottom line when he bumps into Echo, thereby setting off this whole story.

Let's break this down:

Who do I love in this story?

  • Noah: Tough, aggressive, protecting, loyal... throw down some of my favorite adjectives, why don't you? He's the perfect combination of fierce and tender, which is supah hard to balance. I also love his interactions with his friends. Beth and Isaiah are great and terrible a lot of the time (okay, maybe just Beth) but he STICKS WITH THEM ALWAYS because it's not just the daily interactions that make their friendship what it is, it's the history, the love, the loyalty and all the other good stuff it doesn't SEEM like they have but are really the bedrock of what true friendship is. 
  • Echo: I feel like Echo might come off as weak, because she kind of hides behind everything, but she's really crazy strong. She went through this terrible trauma, can't remember any of it and still manages to walk all human-like every day. I would probably bang my head against the wall until they put me in a straight jacket so I couldn't hurt myself anymore. I also totally get her headspace. Her friends want her to GET OVER IT and OWN IT but I GET why she can't and I'm SO MAD at her friends for getting all nastypants about it.
  • Mrs. Collins: WOMAN IS THE SHIT. Let's have more guidance counselors JUST LIKE HER. That's really all I have to say about her. 

So I love these characters and I love everything they go through with each other, with the support of each other, apart, whatever - it doesn't matter. All of the personal, emotional developments just beat at me and I was like UUUUGGGGGHHHH LET NOAH HAVE HIS BROTHERS AND CAN ECHO PLEASE REMEMBER AND FIND BETTER PARENTS. Meanwhile, I was pickingna bottle of wine to share with Mrs. Collins, who I love so much.

All of that being said, the romance was a little off to me. It wasn't the pace or anything like that. Echo and Noah make a REALLY compelling couple and they totally make sense. But I found the writing to make me groan every time the two of them got close and personal (I'm not referring to the kissing parts. The kissing was GOOD). What I am referring to is Noah with the siren songs, nymphs and babys and Echo totally losing her head when Noah gets close to her. It was laid on pretty thick. That's not to say I didn't LOVE the relationship and the bond the two of these characters have, I just didn't love how the interactions within the relationship were told through the prose (again, except for the kissing).

But can I go back to talking about how much my heart ached for both these characters? Because, like, whoa. Whoa, whoa, whoa. Noah made my eyes water like every page in the second half of the book. Echo made me so anxious I cannot even. I just wanted their lives to stop sucking so much I had real reactions to what was happening to them. And that's what's important in a book to me, not the terms of endearment used (although the usage of the word "baby" really was a little excessive). 

I also really liked the dynamic of Echo's support system. Not in a "oh, they're so good to her" kind of way but In a "oh this is SUPER COMPLICATED and layer and by no means what Echo thinks it is" kind of way. 

The long and short of it?

Plot: Really complex and tough to get through, but super amazing all at the same time.
World Building: The set up for this book was so perfect - which made it a little convenient - but I wouldn't have it any other way. 
Character Development: I love Echo and Noah. So much. From beginning to end, the choices eh make and etchings they discover truly shape who they are and you can TELL.
Prose: This was he one negative for me. The dialogue was a little cheesy and, because of the way the POV is done, sometimes the narration was a little much. But the story the words told was just so powerful and fantastic. 
Would I Recommend This Book?: If you like a good girl meets bad boy book, this one's for you. If you love a good, powerful issue book, again, this one's for you. IF you can't stomach cheesy writing, maybe skip it. 

Could you stand all of the baby-talk? Or did that hurt the way you saw Echo and Noah's relationship? How about all the parental issues? The emotional stuff? Share your feels, guys, this is a safe place. 


  1. I was not very fond of the whole "siren" and "nymph" thing, but it didn't bother me to the point where it grated on my nerves. In fact, while I love the romance, I was even MORE fascinated with their individual stories - Echo and her trauma & Noah and his brothers. McGarry just wove the stories together so well, and also managed to weave in romance too, so I thought it was really good!

  2. I really want to read this! Been meaning to but pretty broke right now so can't buy anymore books. It sounds like something I'd really enjoy!

  3. Dude I felt the SAME way about Noah and his brothers. I was screaming for him to get his brothers back and legit crying every scene they had together! Broke my heart! The siren thing did get odd but I fell in love with their story! Like fanning myself love, haha. :)

  4. I agree about that 'baby' talk thing- that kind of irked me once in while, but I think because I was so in love with these characters, that I didn't really mind. I love love loved both of these characters, and I loved watching them grow. Noah was so awesome. Like, I seriously think that's the best way to describe him. And Echo did seem weak at times, but she really was so strong.

    Reading your review makes me want to pick this one up again!! I love it to pieces. I hope you enjoy the companion novel, because it's lovely.

    Fabulous review! <3

    -Aneeqah @ My Not So Real Life

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