Book Reviews

Review: “Pushing the Limits,” Katie McGarry

April 13, 2014

I received this book for free from Harlequin Teen Australia in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: “Pushing the Limits,” Katie McGarryPushing the Limitsby Katie McGarry
Series: Pushing the Limits #1
Published by Harlequin Teen on July, 2012
Genres: Coming of Age, Contemporary, Loss & Grief
Pages: 376
Source: Harlequin Teen Australia

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. 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.

I am completely in the minority on disliking this 2012 debut by Katie McGarry. I realise this and unfortunately I can’t change it, no matter how much I wish I could have fallen in love with this book like so many other readers. I didn’t like the characters or the predictable flow of events – and I couldn’t bring myself to invest in the romance between Echo and Noah.

Pushing the Limits was a book I received a long time ago. I originally put off reading it because to be honest it just sounded too cliche for me to ever pick up. BUT, I kept hearing amazing things about it and how so many bloggers had fallen in love with Echo and Noah (not to mention their steamy scenes). The hype kept going as Katie McGarry added new books to her ‘Pushing the Limits’ series, but it wasn’t until Monday night’s Penguin Teen event in Brisbane that I actually decided – hey, I might read these now. What can I say? Everyone was absolutely raving about this series AGAIN and I was in the mood for a contemporary YA read.

Echo was hard to like. She had some good aspects (her interest in art gave her bonus points) but I just found her to be such a weak character. Yes, she’s been through hell – but she kept contradicting herself at every turn and refused to seek the strength that was obviously within her. Echo grew as the novel progressed, but her ‘revelation’ only comes about two chapters away from the end. There was a lot of back and forth’ing with her character and it drove me a little nuts. It infuriated me that she couldn’t comprehend the one shard of memory she uncovered – (not to spoil too much) – when it was so obvious to the reader.

And Noah? He just rubbed me the wrong way. Sure he was a bad boy, but I don’t like my bad boys smoking pot and not realizing this is going to heavily impact his chances of getting custody of his two younger brothers. It was only when Echo pointed this out to him that he seemed to consider it for the first time. Noah’s ONE goal in life pre-Echo was getting his brothers back and he hadn’t even considered this? I just found it strange. I also found it hard to find any scrap of the ‘old Noah’ hidden within the Noah of the present. He just wasn’t a likeable love interest for me and his constant use of ‘baby’ once he and Echo were a couple made me cringe.

Need I mention the ‘m’ word? When Noah started throwing that around things spiraled for me quickly. It was just so silly and gave me the impression that neither of the two had any real concept of the real world despite all the troubles and hardships they’d faced. Any respect I’d garnered for their relationship of their individual personalities was immediately washed away.

I won’t lie – this book was excruciatingly hard for me to get through. As soon as I’d put it down I’d have to muster all this motivation to pick it up again. I don’t like that feeling when dealing with contemporary reads. For me, contemps are a fun escape from the plot-heavy supernatural/fantasy YA’s I read. Pushing the Limits wasn’t exactly plot-heavy, but the plot it used was extremely predictable.

Without re-hashing too much, Pushing the Limits incorporates: a father’s re-marriage to his children’s babysitter, a crazy detached mum, a dead sibling, dead parents, the foster system and repressed memories. Not to mention a good chunk of the book is filled with counseling sessions and high-school politics. I wanted something fresh or offbeat, but sadly it didn’t eventuate in this book.

I wanted to be WOWED by this one so, so much. It just didn’t happen for me. I may continue on with the spin-off novels in the series, but I won’t be in any hurry.

Recommended to: If you have some interest in beginning this series, why not give it a go? It seems most people enjoy it. It is quite lengthy, however, so do your homework before going in.

About Katie McGarry

Katie McGarry was a teenager during the age of grunge and boy bands and remembers those years as the best and worst of her life. She is a lover of music, happy endings, and reality television, and is a secret University of Kentucky basketball fan.


  • Reply Dre @ Sporadic Reads April 16, 2014 at 3:32 am

    I actually liked this one. I think with contemporaries, it’s a hit or miss. I do understand that some books just isn’t for everybody. For me, if I connected with the MC, most likely, I’d love the book. :)
    Dre @ Sporadic Reads recently posted…Review 158 : Red at Night by Katie McGarryMy Profile

  • Reply Stormi April 13, 2014 at 11:05 pm

    It’s not my type of book so I wouldn’t read it anyway, but it’s nice to see someones review who didn’t like it much as all I have seen is praise. :)
    Stormi recently posted…Book Review: A Rule Against Murder by Louise PennyMy Profile

  • Reply Miss Bookiverse April 13, 2014 at 6:30 pm

    Don’t worry, you’re not alone on this one! I didn’t like the book either, the characters were shallow, the writing was weak and most of the story as ridiculous. I just don’t understand what most people love about it so much.

  • Reply Brett @ Demons Read Too April 13, 2014 at 2:07 pm

    Oh, Britt, and I’ve gone and bought all the books… Hopefully they click for me.

  • Reply Kristalyn @ The Sarcastic Palmtree April 13, 2014 at 2:15 am

    I love that at least you own it that you didn’t like it. That is more than some people will do, especially with a popular book. Katie McGarry is my new must read author after reading these but I totally respect your opinion and thank you for it. I hope you find more happiness with your next book.

    Have a great weekend!
    Kristalyn @ The Sarcastic Palmtree recently posted…Sarcastic Song Shuffle ~ April EditionMy Profile

    • Reply Brittany April 13, 2014 at 2:33 am

      Haha, thanks for the comment. I totally understand that I’m a member of the small population of readers that disliked it… and I wanted to explain why! Glad I got my message across :)
      Brittany recently posted…Review: “Pushing the Limits,” Katie McGarryMy Profile

  • Reply Kelly April 13, 2014 at 1:17 am

    Aww, so sorry you just couldn’t get into it Brit, I completely agree that it’s an acquired taste though. I’m the same, I love finding a good contemporary to break up the dystopian and post apocalyptic books I tend to favour. Where I enjoyed book one, book two not so much, I wouldn’t suggest you try it either :D

    Fantastic review, love the honesty :)
    Kelly recently posted…Stacking The Shelves and Weekly Wrap #017My Profile

  • Leave a Reply

    CommentLuv badge