It All Started With A Dare: Dare You To by Katie McGarrySunday, May 26, 2013
by Katie McGarry
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Expected publication: June 7th 2013
Author's website | GoodReads
If anyone knew the truth about Beth Risk's home life, they'd send her mother to jail and seventeen-year-old Beth who knows where. So she protects her mom at all costs. Until the day her uncle swoops in and forces Beth to choose between her mom's freedom and her own happiness. That's how Beth finds herself living with an aunt who doesn't want her and going to a school that doesn't understand her. At all. Except for the one guy who shouldn't get her, but does....
Ryan Stone is the town golden boy, a popular baseball star jock-with secrets he can't tell anyone. Not even the friends he shares everything with, including the constant dares to do crazy things. The craziest? Asking out the Skater girl who couldn't be less interested in him.
But what begins as a dare becomes an intense attraction neither Ryan nor Beth expected. Suddenly, the boy with the flawless image risks his dreams-and his life-for the girl he loves, and the girl who won't let anyone get too close is daring herself to want it all....A silver of hope sneaks past my walls and I slam every opening shut. Emotion is evil. People who make me feel are worse. I take comfort in the stone inside of me. If I don't feel, I don't hurt.
I grabbed the chance to read Dare You To simply because of my love for Pushing The Limits. I adored PTL's main characters and the smidget of hope that I had of Noah and Echo making a cameo in Dare You To fueled my desire to read it. I didn't even know anything about Dare You To except for the fact that it was Beth Risk's story. When I finally bothered to read the blurb I was a bit shocked- I really expected Beth to be paired up with Isaiah. I was also a bit worried because it instantly felt like it was going to be one of those cliched books; popular and perfect jock asks the punk rock emo skater chick because of a dare? Doesn't that sound like a scene from Not Another Teen Movie? Thankfully, Katie McGarry's books never fall into that category; they transcend and overcome it because they give you so much more.
I have a complicated history with Beth Risk. I hated her in PTL and thought that she was an annoying bitch and I didn't know anything about her except for the fact that she's one of Noah's best friends. Dare You To introduced me to the real Beth; all her faults, scars and horrifying experiences, and all the things that makes her Beth Risk. Beth always lived in a dark world trying to protect her alcoholic mother with a history of abusive relationships but her uncle saved her from that mess and takes custody of her, taking her back to the small town that Beth grew up in before her life got ugly. Beth doesn't want that though. All she wants is to go back to Isaiah and Noah and her mother, so she deliberately disobeys her uncle and badmouths his aunt. She runs away from a potentially bright future and runs back to her dark life, but she eventually matures enough to learn her mistakes and correct them. Beth starts to get over her trust issues and breaks down her walls by reconnecting with her childhood friend Lacey and developing feelings for a boy she never thought she would have such a connection with- Ryan Stone.
Beth described Ryan as too perfect to be true, and I agree with her, but not in the way you think. Ryan Stone was the golden haired and blue-eyed all-stare baseball jock with an assured ticket to go pro after high school with a perfect future all written out for him and basically set in stone. As expected, his life isn't so perfect after all. Beyond that facade, his parents are having problems and his brother is gay and basically disowned by his father, and Ryan constantly has to choose which side he's on. His English teacher helps him realize that he has an actual talent for writing and can go to a really good college if he wanted to, but his father wants to hear nothing of it and is insistent on him going pro even if Ryan isn't sure anymore. Getting dared to ask out the new girl seemed like another problem to add to his life, but Beth Risk turned out to be anything but that. Because of her, the boy who always played it safe is finally willing to take a risk.
Beth and Ryan both came packaged with heavy baggage that they had to get through, turning Dare You To into one very angst-filled book. Beth and Ryan were the best things to happen to each other and they helped the other get through whatever problem they had on their plate. They accepted each others' faults and loved unconditionally; they fixed each other. I have to admit that the scenes where Beth continuously but unconsciously broke Isaiah's heart wounded me, but I admired Beth for setting things straight with him early on and not leading him on.
I finally learned to love Beth Risk; faults, flaws, and all. I admired her strength, spirit, rebellious demeanor, and undying devotion for her mother. Dare You To gives us a glimpse as to why Beth was taken into foster care and it brings everything full circle, making you understand her right to the core. She is undeniably selfless and brave, but she needs someone to care for her too. Ryan was surprisingly very easy to love because he was such a sweetheart. I usually go for the bad boys and he is anything but that, so this makes him very special in my book. He isn't as complicated as Beth but keeps up with her more than anyone. These two may come from different worlds, but were brought together by hope, love, and trust.
Again, Katie McGarry didn't fail in bringing life to each and every one of her characters. Every single conversation and movement felt so real and packaged up with raw emotion. This was a love story, but it doesn't focus on that alone. Reading about how Beth and Lace's friendship grew was so beautiful every step of the way. It was also such a treat to read about Beth patching up her rocky relationship with her Uncle Scott. Reading Dare You To was like watching someone's life unfold right before my eyes. It was that well-written. It was so much more fluid than Pushing The Limits and I instantly connected with the characters. I think I loved Dare You To more because it gave me an emotional experience that I never knew I could go through.
I really enjoyed Dare You To, but it still had it's flaws. It was filled with cliches and stereotypes, and although I don't necessarily care about those if the book is well written, it was just too much and it bothered me a bit. The pace was more fluid than that of Pushing The Limits, but it was still choppy at some parts and there was a rough transitioning between chapters.
Dare You To is compelling and raw and real. Every word oozes with intense honesty and emotion. McGarry is unmatched when it comes to this book and I will never hesitate to read any of her books ever again. I believe that no one can ever be fully prepared for the intensity, passion, and raw sincerity that is the core of Dare You To, because this book is one hell of an emotional ride. You just have to experience it yourself though- I dare you to.
THE NUB AND GIST: 4 STARS