Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Review: Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

"I won't tell anyone, Echo. I promise." Noah tucked a curl behind my ear. It had been so long since someone touched me like he did. Why did it have to be Noah Hutchins? His dark brown eyes shifted to my covered arms. "You didn't do that-did you? It was done to you?" No one ever asked that question. They stared. They whispered. They laughed. But they never asked.So wrong for each other...and yet so right.

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.

It’s going to be a tense week. The US elections are reaching their climax as I write this (please keep the Clinton jokes to a minimum, guys, I’m being serious here) and a lot is at stake. In times such as these, I wonder what can we on the Lantern can offer to the discussion, and then I realised I had the perfect book for the job.

“Pushing the Limits” by Katie McGarry isn’t political, not in the strictest sense of the word. On the surface, it’s your average “Bad-boy-that-isn’t-really-bad meets Broken Girl” story, with two outcast protagonists coming together to get what they wanted and falling in love. But there is something in this book that directly relates to the political climate of today, and that is the question of choice.

Choice is an interesting thing in YA novels. One might think it’s a given that all protagonists have agency and own up to the choices they make, but that’s rarely the case. Oftentimes, the situation manipulates people into such a position where minimal decision-making is involved, and the “right” decision is clear as day (See: My post on ambiguity).

And then there are the books were the situation is muddled, where right and wrong is a matter of perspective and where you don’t know who to root for because you understand everyone. “Pushing the Limits” is one of those books, and there is a lot of tension specifically when it comes to the choices that Echo and Noah make.

How does this relate to politics and elections? Well, you know how everyone tells you how it’s paramount that you vote, and how every voice counts, but you don’t know who is the better choice? Well, that’s kinda what this book is, too.

None of the choices Echo and Noah make are easy ones. In fact, when they make their final decisions, they end up going against everything they believe. It’s gut-wrenching, and that’s the point - no choice is easy, and sometimes, you need to pick between what you want and what is right. Echo and Noah go through a lot of pain, but in the end, I think they reached a better place.

Is this novel perfect? No, of course not (Neither is politics, actually). There are some characters I wish we’d spend more time with, some moral dilemma that was better explored; there were times when McGarry started on a theme and let it drop, like she wasn’t sure what to do with it. Part of it is because of the constraints of the point-of-view she was going with, as Echo and Noah are pretty biased narrators, but it does feel like the people in Noah’s life were more fleshed out than those in Echo’s.

But is this book worth the read? I think so.

Note: A copy of this book was provided by the publishers via Netgalley.
Note: Image and synopsis via Goodreads.

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