There are things happening in Dare You To
on so many levels it makes writing a review difficult. I don’t want to give too much of the story away in my review. I want the reader to experience the full ride of emotions as they read the book. The characters have layers of emotions for the reader to examine; the story has so much depth to it, beyond what one would expect in a normal young adult romance. It’s quite a ride, but a great one!
Very briefly, the story centers on circumstances arising that require Beth to move from Louisville where her mother and aunt live, to Groveton with her Uncle. In typical Beth attitude, she isn’t happy and lets everyone know it. She makes everyone miserable—especially herself. While in Groveton she meets Ryan Stone. Ryan seems to be everything Beth isn’t—Perfect. He seems to have everything Beth doesn’t, a perfect family, perfect friends, perfect life path laid out before him, perfect, perfect, and, oh yeah, perfect. At least that’s how the Stone family makes sure everyone sees them. But the grass is seldom greener on the other side of the fence and the Stone family’s side is no different. As we learn of secrets kept in Beth’s family, we learn of secrets kept in Ryan’s family, as well. And some of the secrets we learn right along with Ryan and Beth, sharing their shock.
I’ll start with Beth. We met her in Pushing the Limits
. To be honest, I didn’t connect with her character in Pushing the Limits
and wasn’t planning to read Dare You To
. But when given the chance to read the eARC, I decided to give it a try because I enjoyed the first book in the series so much and liked the author’s writing style. I’m so glad I did. I was so wrong about Beth. She has so many aspects to her, so much emotion roiling in her, that it broke my heart. Logically I knew as I read the book she was a fictional character, but the author did such a superb job of creating Beth’s character I became to care for her on a personal level—I cared for her as though she was a real person. This is a feat all authors strive for and something very few achieve.
Beth is an angry person. But there’s more to her problems than just anger. If you pick at the layer of anger a little, you’ll find another layer of emotion underneath. In fact, it’s this emotion that fuels the anger driving her. It’s the root of Beth’s problem and until someone looked closely enough and saw what was beneath the anger, they couldn’t reach Beth. Thankfully, in Dare You To, Beth had more than one person who loved her enough to push through the anger and try to break through the true issue driving her emotions.
Ryan is just such a sweet, good, guy. You can’t help but love him. Maybe a little cocky at times, especially the Taco Bell scene, but he was just a lovable guy and he saw something in Beth no one else was willing to look for. But while Ryan might look happy-go-lucky and like a person with a charmed life on the outside, it’s far from the truth. Behind closed doors hide many secrets in the Stone household and they are tearing Ryan in different directions and he really feels the pressure. It was difficult to go through the process with him as he realized that his “perfect” life wasn’t as perfect as he believed, but rather a carefully choreographed fake life to live up to what others expected to see. He struggles with a multitude of feelings and emotions throughout the book, but one thing in his life remains constant. Beth.
As much as I loved Beth and Ryan, I hated Trent, Ryan’s father, Beth’s mother and aunt. I started out feeling sorry for Ryan’s mother, but soon learned she was just as much at fault as his father, so she goes in the I-don’t-like-bag with the rest of the aforementioned. Without going into detail, they were toxic relationships and until Ryan and Beth recognized that, they couldn’t move forward and heal. I started the book not liking Allison, but soften toward her by the end of the book. I wish the author would have had more interaction between her and Beth toward the end. It seemed as though a bond was forming between them and it would have been nice to have seen Beth have a female role model in her home life.
Overall, I loved Dare You To.
I love Katie McGarry’s writing style. The romance between Ryan and Beth wasn’t rushed—it wouldn’t have been believable if it had been. It was flawed, like the characters themselves. Beth and Ryan both had obstacles to overcome and life-changing choices to make. Ms. McGarry was able to weave together the lives and circumstances of the Golden Boy from small town USA and the Bad Girl from the big city, taking their very different individual problems, both emotional and tangible, and make it work in a way that I could almost see it unfolding around me. It was that good.Five Stars.
Michelle :)Author, PODs available June 4thMilayna available March 11, 2014
The Infected, a PODs novel available November 2014Visit Me!