Pushing the Limits

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31%
 
8%
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0%
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4.5
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4.6(26)
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Amazing Contemporary Read
Overall rating
 
5.0
Plot
 
5.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
5.0
Oh my God, Pushing the Limits was AMAZING! I'd seen it on the Harlequin Teen Facebook and had decided that it was about time I read it. I picked up the book and couldn't put it down! Echo and Noah are depicted amazingly and the plot weaves so much, nothing is predictable.

The main characters are Echo and Noah. They each face their own personal battles while trying to fight for each other as well. Things work out a little to perfectly to be relatable to real life, but sometimes miracles happen. It's very interesting hearing and learning about their backstories. Often, characters lives are very-near perfect and they just don't realize it. Here, the characters lives aren't perfect, but they make the best of what they have and are stronger than many other book characters.

I adored this book. Each night, I couldn't put it down. I wouldn't have if my parents hadn't made me go to bed at 11 o'clock. I guess I have Katie McGarry to thank for so many sleepy days afterwords. It was worth it though. This book completely deserves five stars.
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A Promising Contemporary Debut
Overall rating
 
3.3
Plot
 
3.0
Characters
 
3.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
Echo is struggling to get through her senior year of high school. As if that trial weren't hard enough on it's own, Echo has the misfortune of having once been “popular.” Now she's a post-traumatic stress laden ghost of her former artsy self, with a distressing hole in her memory and a gaggle of “friends” who seem desperate to fix her social standing. Her emotionally absent father and air-headed babysitter-turned-stepmom aren't helping things. Fortunately, her new therapist has the idea to make sure Echo tutors one of the school's resident tortured badboy player: Noah.

Noah has his own issues, of course. He's been bounced from one foster home to another since his parents' death orphaned him and separated him from his two much younger brothers—both of whom he's intent on gaining custody of as soon as he turns 18. But Noah's negative coping mechanisms are many.

Thankfully, this is more of a slow-burn romance with not an ounce of insta-love in sight. Katie McGarry shows a lot of promise in this debut (and having read a later novella by her, this reader is confident her storytelling prowess continues to grow.)

What I liked:

*One of the most authentic-feeling parts of this story was the dismal portrayal of parts of the foster care system. Noah got a bad draw—as too many foster kids do. But I know as a teenager, I didn't take much into consideration concerning foster kids at my school. I see a lot of potential in this book for extending some empathy, or at least patient attempt at understanding, for kids in displaced family situations.

*It does seem as though the author was trying to send responsible messages to impressionable readers, including: don't have sex before you're “ready,” get on birth control if you -think- you might have sex, and keep a condom handy. And if you're going to sleep with every random girl who offers herself, you should get yourself tested for STDs now and then. (Though I have concerns about how realistic it is to think a guy as admittedly promiscuous as Noah would be willing to just stop pressuring and wait indefinitely when he figures out Echo is a virgin...I could at least appreciate the general idea that decent guys take 'no' for an answer and don't just move on to the next willing warm body.)

What I didn't care for:

*Most of the side-characters had a certain forgettable flatness about them. Mrs. Collins, the therapist/clinical social worker, was about the only one that seemed to come to life. (Nice to see at least one positive adult figure depicted, btw.)

*I just didn't like Noah. Despite the dead-parents background and crappy foster care situation...the underlying angst still felt forcibly overdone. (His flagrant overuse of F-bombs and the word 'siren' got to the point of comical for me.) It was as though his situation conjured pity, but no real connection. He was short-sighted, judgmental, about as deep as a kiddie pool...and it took much too long for me to start to feel otherwise about him. Granted, the badboy+goodgirl trope has never really done it for me.

*Echo's repressed memories issue didn't sit quite right with this reader—but maybe I was hoping for more focus on the far more common functional issue of PTSD. The buildup to the big reveal felt a bit drawn out, and the revelation was actually more mild than I'd been expecting all along.
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Solid Romance
Overall rating
 
4.7
Plot
 
5.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
Echo Emerson and Noah Hutchins are not meant to be together. She used to be part of the in-crowd and still has a slim chance of returning to popular status, and he's just some messed up foster kid who has issues with going from girl to girl. Or so it seems. But when Echo ends up tutoring Noah, they learn that there is quite a bit about each other that they never would have guessed. As they unravel each others' stories, they can't help but start to feel an attraction toward each other, one that in undeniable.

This is a great romance story between two characters who are both going through some really tough times in their lives. It might make you squeal with joy. It's also deeper than a fluffy-fluff romance, too, since the characters have so much going on in their personal lives. Neither Echo nor Noah has it easy, but having each other to lean on and talk to does make it easier for them. If you like passionate romances, this is a pretty passion-filled kind of story.
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Pushing the Limits
Overall rating
 
3.7
Plot
 
4.0
Characters
 
3.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
Did this book just made me cry at 4 in the morning? Wow, I think it did. A poignant tale about two people with a painful past who's craving for normalcy. And I think McGarry did a great job with this.

The only thing that kinda bothered be at the first few chapters was the fast attraction Echo and Noah felt for each other. No, it wasn't love and I'm glad they were able to hold it until the latter part. But the I-can't-get-you-out-of-my-head feeling seems fast after sharing a meeting or two. I expected more interactions between them before entering this denial stage to back it up but other than that, I have no problem with this story. It was great, really.

Echo and Noah were typical protagonists. They had issues they're trying to hide from the world except from those who are really close to them. There are people that they assumed were out to ruin their lives only to be proved wrong. They were madly in love but were too dumb to let each other go think it's for the best. It's pretty much cliche so maybe some of you are asking why did I like the story... Individually, they were what readers expect them to read. But together, they were brilliant. I don't know how McGarry did it but she combined two ordinary characters and formed an amazing couple you can't help but put your bets on.

The build up towards their personal struggles was good. It was placed at the right places in the story and the other parts didn't felt like they were just fillers. Although their interaction with other people except Mrs. Collins weren't that much, other minor characters were still significant and wasn't just like those who were there to make the scene right. They needed to be there to make everything perfect and they were involved.

I wish we had the chance to meet Aires though. I'm pretty sure everyone would love him. I wish other characters especially Luke and Grace were also given more depth. I really want to know more about Grace's bitch attitude because sometimes, I think she cares.

The change in POVs were also great and gave us a chance to know more each character. I really love to see the difference on how both POVs were written and I personally love Noah's.

I'm sure Echo and Noah will get under your skin as soon as you start reading this. Just be prepared to feel the emotions McGarry made her characters felt as well as her readers.
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Pushing the Limits
Overall rating
 
3.7
Plot
 
4.0
Characters
 
4.0
Writing Style
 
3.0
Let me be clear: I honestly hate reading Contemporary/Chick-Lit novels, I do. I don't like the real world, so I drown in paranormal because it's another world: vampires, ghosts, magic, wizards and witches, giants, etc. I usually stay away from genres like this due to the fact that it's realistic-fiction. Do you understand what I'm trying to say? So I didn't have high hopes for this despite the average user rating... I'm so glad I was proved wrong. Pushing the Limits was amazing.

Have you ever had that controlling parent telling you how to live your life when you desperately want to live it your way, but you're afraid of disappointing them so you reluctantly do what you're told? Have you ever been through a horrible situation in that past that's affected your memory to this day and you can't remember what happened though you're clawing at it -- trying to remember? You're not alone. Echo Emerson is going through that situation. To add on to this stressful matter, she has scars -- scars that sends whispers around the school, scars that makes her seem as though she's crazy. They think she did that herself, but they don't know the story... It was done to her and she's trying to remember. She feels alone and unloved, and that's when our knight in shining armour, Noah Hutchins, enters the story.

Noah can related to Echo. He lost his parents and he's fighting for custody over his little brothers. He feels they're the only thing he has in the world and without them, he's alone. But how can he approach Echo Emerson? He's the boys your dad tells you to stay away from, he's the stoner that uses girls for a night and leaves.... I just love Pushing the Limits, though it's the bad boy falls in love with good girl premise, I still enjoyed it. Our main characters are broken and shattered; when they're together, they become one (oh god, that was cheesy, *shakes... my... head*).

I loved both Noah and Echo, not together, but as two separate people. They both have these different personality traits that I just loved. Though Beth and Isaiah (Noah's best friends/foster siblings) had very small rolls to play in this book, I'm definitely interested in reading their story. I really liked them and how much they were down for Noah. I really recommend Pushing the Limits, that is, if you're tired of the whole bad-boy-falls-in-love-with-good-girl cliched premise, then I'm sorry to say this book isn't for you.
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Pushing the Limits
Overall rating
 
4.0
Plot
 
4.0
Characters
 
4.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
Pushing the Limits is one of those books that was receiving a lot of hype, and that made me a little reluctant to read it. However, I love “issue” books and I’ve really been enjoying the more mature YA books coming out, so I gave it a try. I’m really glad that I did! It’s an extremely heavy read, but it pulled me in and I couldn’t put it down.

Echo is an amazingly multi-dimensional character. Even though I can’t relate to her struggles, I did find myself completely invested in her story. She’s utterly broken, but she is trying to put herself back together and return to “normal.” She’s gone through something outrageously horrific, but can’t remember a moment of it. The events of that day are slowly revealed as Echo meets with a therapist, but if only she can get her hands on her file to speed up the process.

Noah is fiercely loyal, but to a fault. Yes, it’s possible to love someone too much, if it blinds you to everything else around you. He just wants his little brothers back after the foster care system separated them. He’s seeing the same therapist as Echo, and wants to see his file to find out more about his brothers’ foster parents. Of course, this forces them to work together, and their relationship develops into something so much more.

Even though their stories are tough, I really enjoyed getting to know Echo and Noah. Their pasts are heartbreaking, and I really wanted them to find some peace and happiness. Thankfully, they find each other. Their relationship isn’t easy, since they both have their own personal issues to work through, and high school is an unforgiving place. I was expecting more romance though. The focus is mainly on their emotional baggage with their families, but that’s okay. I just would have liked more steaminess!

This was a very emotional and enjoyable read. I’m definitely glad that I have it a chance, and didn’t let the hype scare me off. It was a little on the long side and some scenes seemed to drag the pacing down a bit, but it still kept me engaged from page one.
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Pushing the Limits
Overall rating
 
3.0
Plot
 
3.0
Characters
 
3.0
Writing Style
 
3.0
I have yet to read a negative review for Pushing the Limits, and when I went to find one on Goodreads, I really had to dig. [Edit: I found one negative review.] As a reader and a book blogger, when a book gets this much massive hype, I get suspicious. So obviously I had to give Pushing the Limits a try.

Basically, Pushing the Limits is your typical teen romance novel, only for once the protagonists have real problems. That was a nice spin on things, and the fact that Echo and Noah had tough issues to deal with kept me from getting bored with the fluffiness.

As characters, I liked Echo and Noah. They were well-rounded, realistic people, and they had problems more important than a broken fingernail. McGarry’s cast of supporting characters was very nice as well—everyone was nuanced and no one was just black and white.

I also thought the plot itself was good. Most romances tend to follow a pattern, and while I can’t say that Pushing the Limits was completely out of the box, it didn’t go down the most obvious road.

Okay, now, the romance aspect is what everyone seems to be all excited about. For myself, I’ve read swoonier books. I think that if you take a “good girl with issues falls for bad boy who’s secretly sensitive” pairing, a lot of the excitement and freshness is lost. Yeah, there was A LOT of kissing in Pushing the Limits, but the way McGarry wrote those scenes didn’t make them special to me.

And that brings me to the one thing that kept me from raving about this book: McGarry’s prose. It was effective and clear, but for me it lacked something that would have made it spectacular. I was never fully hooked by the writing as I was with by story and characters.

While I don’t believe that Pushing the Limits quite lives up to the massive hype it’s been getting, I do think it’s a very good book, and well worth reading. McGarry’s more “serious” take on teen romance was refreshing, and the end result was a very emotional book with memorable and heartwarming characters.
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Deals with honest, serious topics but in an amazing way
Overall rating
 
5.0
Plot
 
5.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
5.0
This is an amazing book about the struggle of two troubled teens trying to put the shattered pieces of their life together and finding true love on the way.

Okay, the main characters have truly messed up lives.

Echo has horrible scars, a mentally ill mother, a control freak father and a dead older brother. Her life is far from perfect. Noah also was an amazing character. His parents are dead and he's not allowed to live with his brothers. Everyone labels him a bad boy, but he isn't on the inside. No one sees the depth of pain and tragedy that he's in.

Both of them are angry with their lives. The book is so well written it's like their worries and problems are yours.

The romance in this book is not a definite love-at-first-sight thing. It builds up really slowly, and unlike lots of other YA contemporaries, it's not the focus of the book. Sure, they end up together, but the book is really about them coming to terms with their lives and helping each other through the difficulties.

The issues that this book deals with are very serious. Abuse. Neglect. Truth. Lies. Love. The bond between family. This is not a light-hearted pick me up. It's very deep and emotional.

A few little things just bugged me slightly about the book. For example, Echo's reliance on her "popular" friends, and her need for approval, although I guess, this is high school. It's understandable. I also wish there'd been an epilogue or something. The ending was kind of happy-for-now, but I think I would have liked an epilogue, maybe like 5 years into the future, so we could see what happened to them, because the next book isn't about Echo and Noah.

Apart from those things, this was an amazing book that was written perfectly. I definitely recommend it, even if you're not usually a fan of contemporaries.
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I'd give it a hundred stars if I could!
(Updated: January 05, 2013)
Overall rating
 
5.0
Plot
 
5.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
5.0
I usually never read contemporary, so this is me going out of my comfort zone. I've seen many (many) rave reviews on this book and when Harlequin Teen sent a copy to me, I just had to give it a try. Who knew I'd fall in love with it so quickly?
Okay, that last line wasn't entirely true.
I did love it, but it took me a while to realized that I did.
Pushing the Limits is definitely a 'wow' book. It's got the forbidden romance, the nail-biting suspense, the heart-stopping moment where everything finally pieces together. It also had it's frustrating moments where I just wanted to skip a couple of pages because either one of the characters was acting really unbearable or I just wanted to get to the good part.
This is one of those books that takes patience... lot's of it.

The whole book is written dual POV's (Echo's and Noah's).
Echo's character is really super troubled. She's a narrator you can't trust (So be warned). She has a twisted way of seeing things (And I don't mean that in a nasty way). The problem with her is that she believed everything her dysfunctional mother told her, and she expresses these beliefs by mouthing off a couple of times. She lost her memory of the night she got all those scars, so most of her opinions of that night in the beginning of the book are assumptions. And most of the book revolves around the mystery of what really did happen that night.
Echo is a very realistic character, especially for a troubled teen. She's indecisive, stubborn, unbearable at times, hormonal, emotional, and insecure. But her character develops impressively throughout the book. I ended up loving her like a sister.
Noah, on the other hand, is... well, a handful. He's hot. Like super, incredibly, bad-boy with tattoos HOT! He's funny (hilarious!), really really sweet, and did I mention he was hot? He's awesome, I loved him!
He's definitely, 100%, positively swoon-worthy all the way.
He's ten times more rational than Echo is... even though he has a couple of mind slip-ups here and there.
He fights for what he loves, and he knows that sometimes letting go is the best thing to do.
I just... wow... he left me breathless. He made me want to cry.
His relationship with Echo wasn't forced. It wasn't one of those insta-love things, it slowly progressed over time and it was perfect. McGarry added the perfect amount of drama and thrill to spice things up.
I'd give them the 'best couple of the year' award.

The story itself is beautiful. It's about how two broken people find a way around their problems and they fall in love while they do. Echo wants to remember what happened that night she got those ugly scars.
Noah just wants his brothers back.
They both want normal.
Even though this is a contemporary novel, McGarry seriously knows how to work magic in her words. I could not put this down. At. All. It's not easy to not think about this book, and it'll be even harder to forget. I'll probably be rereading it soon just to watch Noah and Echo fall in love all over again.
I don't even know what to say anymore. This is a MUST READ and I'm really really really happy that Harlequin Teen sent me a copy or else I'd never have read this and I would never have realized what an amazing author Katie McGarry is and I would have never read any of her books.
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Pushing the Limits
Overall rating
 
5.0
Plot
 
5.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
5.0
This book blew my mind. So good.
Good Points
I have heard nothing but amazing things about this book, and it totally lived up to all of the hype. At first, I was not sure I wanted to read it. I am usually not into the bad boy thing, but I am so glad I went ahead and read it. This book was so good. This book deals with a lot of really tough issues. Usually I have a hard time reading books like that, but I could not stop reading this one. It was written in the perfect way, and it completely drew me in. They both had to make some really tough choices. This was such an emotional book! I loved the romance between Noah and Echo. As much as they tried to fight it, it was still there. I really liked that we got to see the soft side of Noah when it came to Echo. It showed that he was not just a crazy bad boy, and I appreciated that. Everyone has a soft side.
This book broke my heart at times. At other times, it made my heart very happy. I don't know what else to say about this book except it was amazing and I totally recommend reading it.
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