Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Pushing The Limits - Katie McGarry - Review

"They say be a good girl. Get good grades. They know nothing about me."

*I'll include the synopsis below the review*

A brave, riveting and truly powerful novel - Pushing the limits will drive the devastating aspects of young Echo's life closer to home than you may have thought possible.
    I loved this novel to pieces! Katie McGarry is a talented author who I'm glad was daring enough to tackle the challenging topics of love, loss and life itself, but most importantly how cruel they all can be.

    Told from alternating perspectives, we follow Echo, whose memory has been regressed due to a traumatic experience, and Noah, whose life took a turn for the worse and who now hates the system for not playing fair. The pair are an unlikely match but after being kicked down, we watch the story progress to see if they have what it takes to help each other get back up.

   What hit me the most was how easy this novel was to relate to, even if none of the delicate issues raised in the novel have been experienced by you first hand. Maybe you're not Noah, a foster kid who's fighting to try and get his life back, or Echo, a damaged teen attending therapy sessions to try and find out why her life hit rock bottom. But maybe you're the one whose insecurity has a hold over you, controls what you wear and where you go? Maybe you're someone who is fighting a losing battle but are refusing to give up. You may even be the girl, or guy, people stare at and mock in the corridor, the one they whisper about and misunderstand.. You might be the friend who always offers a shoulder to cry on, or just a bystander who watches it happen. Heck, you might even be the *cough* selfish, vile, weak, pathetic *cough* person who gives the glares, starts the rumors and excludes the ones who aren't 'cool' enough. But my point is, whoever you are, there's something in this novel that you can relate to.

   The characterisation is a majorly strong element in this novel; everything Echo and Noah fought for I  found myself wanting so badly too, for them - that's how real they seemed, how much McGarry made me care for them. Both characters are realistic, easy to relate to and down to earth; they both have very distinct and unique voices and personalities. 

    I don't really want to spoil anything so I have deliberately not mentioned the problems the characters face because the fun of the novel is understanding the characters, their lives and unraveling the mystery of what actually happened to them and why. Though I will say that I loved how you discover Echo's past alongside her, she never knows more than you do, and how you stand by Noah as he never stops fighting. I'm not going to lie, my heart ached for Echo and I cried enough to fill the ocean over Noah's story - maybe that's just me, I don't know, but even if you don't cry, you'll be touched!

   Having said that, this was no a sad/depressing story. It was a journey with both its ups and downs which was overall just as heart-warming as it was heart-wrenching. I really do hope people take something away with them after reading this novel, even if it's just making people more aware before they make judgments.

   OH! THE ROMANCE! How have I not mentioned that?! The chemistry between Echo and Noah was hot, sexy and the strength they offered one another was admirable. The romance was a great part of the book (the majority of the book I guess) but it was necessary as it moved the plot along. The love Noah and Echo had for each other, for their families and for 'normal' was extraordinary.

   I really can't explain how much I adored this novel. I recommend it to anyone and everyone!

 5 Stars *****

*Synopsis - Blurb*

"They say be a good girl, get good grades, be popular. They know nothing about me. I can’t remember the night that changed my life. The night I went from popular to loner freak. And my family are determined to keep it that way. They said therapy was supposed to help. They didn’t expect Noah. Noah is the dangerous boy my parents warned me about. But the only one who’ll listen. The only one who’ll help me find the truth. I know every kiss, every promise, every touch is forbidden. But what if finding your destiny means breaking all the rules? A brave and powerful novel about loss, change and growing up, but most of all love."

Friday, 7 December 2012

Quote Of The Day.

The Story Of My Life: When life goes tits up I either find myself staring at the bottom of an empty bottle or at the last page of a book. #escapism

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Sex in YA novels...

Should it be kept under the covers or do readers want more?

This is basically just a small discussion to see what opinions people have on these more intimate moments in YA novels. I thought it would be useful for authors to see what their audience desires and just fun for YA readers to voice their views to one another.

I'm going to treat this post as a "chat" so you can comment as many times as you like, change your opinion a million times, whatever! It's a Discussion.

*As YA covers a range of ages (and even some adults or younger advance readers) please can you state your age (if you don't mind doing so) in your first comment as age will affect our opinions dramatically - it's also useful for authors to pinpoint their desired target audience.*

Here we go!

"Your characters are heading towards the bedroom - do you prefer to be left at the door, have it slammed shut in your face before you even get a whiff of what's about to happen or do you like to stay with your characters every step of the way?"

I'm 16! :) I personally think that closed doors are a little boring, wood... grain... door knob - being oblivious to what's happening distances you from your characters and can appear a little wish-washy; but on the other hand, being right there under the covers has me blushing like a lobster! I think having the door ajar (metaphorically of course) is probably the best approach. You can hear what the characters say, you know what they're thinking and feeling, you can even see that there's skin on skin and tangled limbs; you get the gist of what's happening with enough detail to keep you satisfied without anything becoming too graphic.

When a book builds up romance for  300 or so pages and then all that results is a kiss, I find it a little... disappointing? I find a kiss here and there too little but "woo-hoo" in the bedroom every chapter too much! Y'know?

I don't think that young adults are too young to be reading about sex (unless it's unnecessarily graphic) as it's a part of life, it allows you to understand the relationship between characters more - I mean if your protagonist is sleeping with the swoon-worthy hottie then you want to know if she was hesitant or whether or not she was ready for it/enjoyed it/was scared etc but if the scene is cut off as they hit the sheets, you never find any of this out - and it can be good for teens who want to be eased into the topic because they aren't comfortable enough to openly discuss it.

YA novels handle topics such as alcohol, drugs, bullying, abuse death and more so why is 'sex' such a sensitive topic when it comes to teen novels?

I think that this topic is handled well in both YA novels "Hollowmen" and "Amongst the ruins". I've taken a 'sex scene' from each book which you can read below if  you're interested. (These are scenes containing sex, not just sexual tension so I'd recommend you be 14+ to read them - as the authors intended).

"I expected him to kiss me, since his lips were nearly brushing against mine, but he didn’t. He reached down and grabbed both my wrists and pinned them above my head. With his body pressed against mine and my hands above my head, I couldn’t move. I felt powerless. He kissed me passionately, almost roughly, and I closed my eyes, focusing on nothing else except how wonderfully warm his mouth felt. And the heat of it. When he pulled away from me, I tried to follow him, to keep kissing him, but he kept me pinned to the wall. He used one hand, holding both wrists together, while his other hand worked its way down my pants, pushing them and my panties down. Once he’d gotten them to my knees, I helped the rest of the way, moving and kicking my legs until my pants were on the ground and I could step out of them. He kissed my neck, and now his lips felt cool on my skin. I was flushed with warmth, with excitement and anticipation. A hungry heat flowed through me, radiating from my belly down to my thighs. I didn’t even know he’d undone his pants until I felt him thrust inside me. I cried out in surprise and pleasure, and he was kissing me again, silencing my moans. I wrapped my legs around him, and then he let go of my arms, letting me hang onto him as he pushed me harder against the wall. Something changed between us then. There was a frantic hunger in the way we kissed and moved. Even the way he gripped me, his fingers digging into my bare back and pressing me to him, it felt desperate and primal. Our bodies intertwined, moving together in the most animalistic way, and we were firmly in the moment. Neither of us was in control, and it felt wonderful."


This one's probably a little more graphic and it seems a bit choppy because I cut a few bits out.

"If I'd thought him eager before, I had been mistaken. His tongue delved into my mouth. His hand slipped down my body till his fingers grabbed the crotch of my underwear. Then his fingers passed the last cloth barrier. Then it wasn't his fingers. His most intimate part met mine. Pressing into my body, he slowly changed it forever. "Relax," he whispered against the sensitive skin below my ear. I bit into the flesh of his arm, and a tear pooled at the inner corner of my eye. When I thought the discomfort would end, he moved reawakening the pain till his body stilled above me. 
Releasing his flesh from my teeth, I gasped. Tilting back my head, I strangled his biceps.  Would it be this painful the entire time? 
"It's always been you. Always." He began slow movements inside me. 
My body relaxed as the pain subsided. 
The rhythm he created with my body was maddening, yet pleasurable. Hands, lips, and limbs, I lost track of where he ended and I began. The words he spoke during our intimate dance stripped away the feelings I'd masked. 
The tingling touch of his hand rebuilt the multiple sensations he'd created earlier. 
They pooled in the pit of my belly. Unsure of what to do about it, I raked at his back and curled my legs around his thighs. I moaned some unrecognizable words. 
He grasped and pulled at my body, pushing us closer, harder. The sensations burst into complete euphoria. Calling out, I fisted the sheets and arched my back. He slid his hands over my chest, moaning with his own pleasure. His body jerked, and warmth filled me."

So what do you think about sex in YA? Where do you like to draw the line and do you know any books/authors who have handled it well?