Pushing the Limits

Pushing the Limits - Read This Review & More Like It On My Blog!3.75 out of 5Don't let those 3.75 out of 5 stars fool you - I really, really liked this novel. It's not perfect, but it is a perfectly enjoyable read. Good storytelling coupled with two damaged and likeable, if slightly cliched teenage protagonists, makes for a fast, easy read. Some pacing issues and the predictability of the plot keep it from a higher rating, but really, in spite of its few flaws, this is a good book. Fully engaging, wholly involving without falling victim to instalove or even a real love-triangle Pushing the Limits is teenaged romance with punch.In a character-driven novel such as this, it takes multiple strong protagonists to carry the novel. Even with the bit of mystery surrounding main character Echo, it is her interactions with co-pilot Noah that drive the plot and the novel. Their banter is amusing, sweet, occasionally a bit saccharine for my taste, but wholly believable. Katie McGarry takes the whole "opposites attract" to the extreme with these two wildly disparate characters, but she makes it work. Their progression from acquaintances to friends to boyfriend/girlfriend evolves in complexity and emotionally. Their attraction and subsequent trials feel natural and authentic to who they are. Two damaged teens with authority issues galore, both Echo and Noah are presented as three-dimensional people and it is easy to root for each - both as a couple and as individuals. While they can come across as being cliched in some aspects of their characterization, especially in the beginning, both these protagonists grow and change over the course of the book.There were things that grew to irritate me during this 400-page read. Noah's repeated use of "nymph" and his frequent mentions of Echo's "scent" of sugar and cinnamon buns got old, fast. Still, those are two relatively minor quibbles. My main issues with Pushing the Limits came in the form of the pacing. This is a novel that starts out strong  - I was invested and hooked on the story within 50 pages. However, during the middle third of the novel, when the tension should be steadily building towards some kind of main conflict.... it dragged. Majorly. Not a lot happens and some of what transpires between Echo and Noah comes off as needlessly melodramatic, which just made me irritated. Thankfully, the book picks up again before the final pages and I found myself emotionally attached to the story and characters.Pushing the Limits is a creeper, a stealth novel - one of those novels that sneaks up on you (and up in your estimations) as you read it. I didn't realize how much I cared about both Noah and Echo until I realized I didn't want the book to end. I wanted to keep reading - see what these two (and their amusing cast of cohorts) got into next, how they dealt with the next part of their lives. Thankfully, there will be sequel (Dare You To - about Beth!) so I look forward to another strong, solid novel from this promising author.