Monday, 10 September 2012

Review: 'Pushing the Limits' by Katie McGarry

Pushing the Limits (Pushing the Limits, #1)I hadn't planned on reading this book, but then I saw it was available on NetGalley and decided to give it a try. I liked the blurb and after liking 'Beautiful Disaster' so much, I figured I should put my prejudiced hesitations to the side and go for it. And I am so happy I did.

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.
This book, like many new YA novels, uses the split point of view, which means that as a reader you are more aware of what happens than the characters. And it really worked in this novel. Echo and Noah both have a very interesting background and I loved the chance to explore both. I, for a personal reason, felt I could really connect to Echo. Her pain over her (lack of) memories is described beautifully. I had expected the stereotypical teenage wailing about heart-break, pain etc, but rather I got quotes like this:
"Her shoulders never shook. No tears streamed down her face. The worst type of crying wasn't the kind everyone could see--the wailing on street corners, the tearing at clothes. No, the worst kind happened when your soul wept and no matter what you did, there was no way to comfort it. A section withered and became a scar on the part of your soul that survived."
This, I believe, is the kind of pain everyone feels at least once in their life, over different kind of experiences and events. And although there are many novels out there that describe scarred people, yet I really felt that McGarry was able to put aside the romance and allow for the characters to be explored and developed. I also really liked that Noah was much more than the blurb makes him out to be. He can be emotional, he has something to fight for and a strong belief in family.

I am a Greek mythology fan and immediately picked up on Echo's name. Unawares, I had recently done a post on Echo and how she's presented by Ted Hughes. Thankfully here Echo is a much stronger character in 'Pushing the Limits'. The idea that she is a shadow of her former self and cannot speak for herself is definitely present at the beginning of the book. She seems to live her life for others and only slowly develops her own voice. Noah is also a nice opposite to Narcissus, who is much more present in Echo's ex. But the mythology flows throughout the entire book, as the quote below shows.
“We’d read about sirens in English this fall; Greek mythology bullshit about women so beautiful, their voices so enchanting, that men did anything for them. Turned out that mythology crap was real because every time I saw her, I lost my mind.” 
It's a beautiful description and I'm really happy to find this kind of description in a YA novel.

Although there is mythology in it, one of the reasons I liked this book is because I feel it is rather realistic, especially the high school setting. The social pressures of being popular or being accepted aren't described overly dramatic but very consciously. I have no experience with the foster system, but  I felt it was dealt with fairly. It's failures were highlighted without giving up hope on the entire scheme. Overall, I really enjoyed this book and give it...


Once I picked up this book I didn't put it down until the last word had been read. The characters come to life in a realistic way and stir true emotions from the reader in their struggles. McGarry masterly shows us two young people fighting against the world without falling into the cliches of modern YA novel. There is true character development which isn't obliterated by forced romance but the romance that is present feels all the stronger and true for it.

1 comment:

  1. I agree that the alternating perspective was put to really good use here-I liked Noah a lot more through his eyes than I would have if just Echo had narrated.