Thursday, 17 March 2016

Review: 'Walk the Edge' by Katie McGarry

Katie McGarry's Pushing the Limits was one of the books that really changed my mind about Young Adult fiction. It could be exciting and fun and, above all, well-written! So when I saw Walk the Edge pop up I knew I wanted to read it. And I loved it. Thanks to Harlequin and Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Pub. Date: 10/03/2016
Pulisher: Harlequin

One moment of recklessness will change their worlds.
Smart. Responsible. That's seventeen-year-old Breanna's role in her large family, and heaven forbid she put a toe out of line. Until one night of shockingly un-Breanna-like behavior puts her into a vicious cyber-bully's line of fire—and brings fellow senior Thomas "Razor" Turner into her life.
Razor lives for the Reign of Terror motorcycle club, and good girls like Breanna just don't belong. But when he learns she's being blackmailed over a compromising picture of the two of them—a picture that turns one unexpected and beautiful moment into ugliness—he knows it's time to step outside the rules.
And so they make a pact: he'll help her track down her blackmailer, and in return she'll help him seek answers to the mystery that's haunted him—one that not even his club brothers have been willing to discuss. But the more time they spend together, the more their feelings grow. And suddenly they're both walking the edge of discovering who they really are, what they want, and where they're going from here. 
Katie McGarry's books are incredibly easy to love. Part of that is because of how beautifully her stories stick to expected YA patterns without becoming boring. Walk the Edge is the perfect example of this. Breanna and Razor are seemingly stereotypes: the quiet girl and the bad boy, the girl who does what she has to and the boy who always does the unexpected. But McGarry gives her characters more than just these stock character traits. Breanna is interesting, which shouldn't come as a surprise, but does. Ever since Stephanie Meyer gave us Bella Swan, YA heroines have been suffering from boring-itis but McGarry's never do. There are sides to Breanna which are unexpected, she never makes unjustifiably ridiculous decisions "because love" and is her own person. Ever since reading Alice Hoffman's Property Of I've also been slightly (read: extremely) intrigued by gangs or motorcycle clubs in fiction. There is something fascinating about these close-knit communities and how they interact with the outside world. Although I doubt YA fiction is the best place to learn about them, the way they are portrayed are always interesting.

What really intrigued me about this novel is the fact that it deals with a topic so intensely problematic yet frequent: compromising pictures of girls. McGarry doesn't shy away from the fact that this is a highly gendered crime and that responses to it are rife with prejudices and victim-blaming. Throughout the novel I kept worrying if the novel would turn against Breanna, as I have unfortunately read many YA novels which ruthlessly turn against their own female characters while trying to pretend they're not. But McGarry never let me down, reminding me why she is my favourite YA author. She also approaches her characters with such care, letting Breanna to stand up for herself and be vulnerable at the same time, making Razor both sensitive and determined. Masculinity seems to be such a difficult thing for authors to nail down at times, making their "bad boys" slightly emotionless and wooden whereas McGarry's boys feel and express. Yes, there are man tears in these books and they're not the sadly self-entitled man tears.

McGarry's writing is what lifts her books above those of most other YA writers. She doesn't go down the lazy road but tries to actually bring her characters and situations as close to the reader as possible. At times her writing might be too emotionally vague for some, by which I mean that McGarry explains some situations through her characters' emotions rather than explicitly. This is especially true for the more x-rated parts of the book but I actually prefer it over the more lifeless yet explicit descriptions of others. Walk the Edge also moved between the narration of both Breanna and Razor, which definitely gave it an extra edge. Seeing a situation from both sides always gives the reader more to work with. Although perhaps the difference in voice between the two isn't very clear you always know whose perspective you're reading. How realistic the story is is a question that hardly pops up throughout the book and that's part of the magic of it.

I give this novel...

4 Universes!

I loved reading Walk the Edge, as I was expecting to. Katie McGarry is one of my go-to YA authors and she has never let me down. Breanna and Razor are great new characters and the story will keep you interested throughout the novel. I'd recommend this to YA fans.

1 comment:

  1. I read and enjoyed the Pushing the Limit series and would like to read more from this author.