Published by: Harlequin Teen
From acclaimed author Katie McGarry comes an explosive new tale of a good girl with a reckless streak, a street-smart guy with nothing to lose, and a romance forged in the fast lane.
The girl with straight As, designer clothes and the perfect life-that's who people expect Rachel Young to be. So the private-school junior keeps secrets from her wealthy parents and overbearing brothers...and she's just added two more to the list. One involves racing strangers down dark country roads in her Mustang GT. The other? Seventeen-year-old Isaiah Walker-a guy she has no business even talking to. But when the foster kid with the tattoos and intense gray eyes comes to her rescue, she can't get him out of her mind.
Isaiah has secrets, too. About where he lives, and how he really feels about Rachel. The last thing he needs is to get tangled up with a rich girl who wants to slum it on the south side for kicks-no matter how angelic she might look.
But when their shared love of street racing puts both their lives in jeopardy, they have six weeks to come up with a way out. Six weeks to discover just how far they'll go to save each other.
Many thanks to Sam of Realm of Fiction for the delightful read-along. If you've not visited her blog before, you're missing out on interacting with a fantastic blogger.
I can't use my typical review style for this novel because I had a highly irregular way of reading it. I read the first two hundred pages. Then, considering my curiosity over the backstory between these characters and having had McGarry's books recommended to me, I read Pushing the Limits. Then I read the next one hundred pages and Dare You To right after that. I know what it's like to read this novel as a companion standalone and as another in the Pushing the Limits series.
That alone should tell you that I liked this book - I bought and read its two predecessors without a second thought. This review will probably sound negative, so I have to emphasize this: Katie McGarry's writing style feels effortless, easy to read. It's addictive, full of angst and tension but also full of very distinct character points of view. There's never a doubt as to whose perspective you're reading from, and her characters do get their own arcs in addition to romance and other plot complications that keeps the tension and conflict high. They're fast-moving contemporary romances that are full of well-developed characters with real issues.
That being said, this book was also not my kind of book in the way that her others were.
A.) I dislike terms of endearment, especially when they put women on a pedestal. From the first moment he meets Rachel, Isaiah thinks of her as an "angel." I could get on board with a term of endearment if it's earned over time, so then I know and understand why that person is dear but from the outset? That's personally not my thing. I read a bunch of historical romances, and I can tell you that when the romantic interest calls the main interest a minx / temptress / etc., I start to lose interest.
B.) Whereas Pushing the Limits felt more like a "healing story" with the romance added as a benefit, Crash into You felt more like a romance with a dose of healing. Different focuses, probably in part because Rachel and Isaiah immediately like / are attracted to each other whereas the other couples have a rougher time with their burgeoning feelings and thus have their internal struggles shoved at the forefront. It's a matter of personal preference. If I don't love the main characters, I prefer the romance to take a back stage to other plots. I liked Isaiah and Rachel but didn't love them.
C.) They like each other a lot at the beginning. Because of the situation they're thrust into, the romance between Rachel and Isaiah at first seemed to have faint traces of instalove. It wasn't instalove - no one mentioned that - but their first meeting/time with each other creates such intense feelings in both of them -- I felt like I had a harder time understanding why they thought that the other person was so special from the outset. For Rachel I could understand - her first. For Isaiah I couldn't. This changed the further I got in the book; I understood their dynamics better and could thus enjoy the romance more. McGarry excels at showing how their feelings deepen over time.
D.) Sometimes the relationship felt uneven and I wanted Rachel to have more agency. This book plays around with the "bad boy" and "good girl" dynamic. Part of this includes Isaiah acting overprotective in the way that her family does and involves Rachel wondering if she's weak. Whenever a character thinks Am I X? and the romantic interest says, you're not X, you're Y, I feel kind of dissociated from the romance and internal struggle. There are also few alpha/controlling male love interests who I personally love even when they're acting overprotective. I've read a bunch of other reviews that emphasized how much the reviewers liked those aspects of the book, so this is another personal preference issue. Plus Rachel does have more agency by the end.
Too many plot threads in this one. I appreciate the attempt to bring in issues from the first two novels and to introduce a bunch of other new character and plot threads, but I wished that some of the subplots had gotten eliminated and I wanted some others to get more focus. While I enjoyed the overall plot - the way Rachel and Isaiah both came to terms with their pasts and each other - and the vivid drag racing setting, I wanted something more like Pushing the Limits. Slower, fuller, more emotionally dynamic because it had less action and could focus more on pushing its bounds. There was a scene in Pushing the Limits that nearly made me cry. There was a scene in Crash into You that I thought had the potential for that but didn't mesh with me. Again personal preference - if you want your books to have more action and get bored with the everyday-life feel of some contemporaries, you will probably really like this.
So cool and so obvious that McGarry did her research on drag and legal racing. While reading, I was reminded a lot of The Dream Thieves. Whereas TDT has a more magical feel to its racing scenes, Crash into You has a raw and gritty and realistic vibe, and I loved it. Two novels on drag racing, and a part of me is kind of tempted and half curious about this thing that I will probably never see/experience.
I loved how the author brought up a lot of real issues like aging out of foster care and severe panic attacks. While Crash into You is fun and hot and angst-filled, it is also undoubtedly real and does a great job at showcasing some things that don't often get the spotlight.
Let me be clear: I liked this novel, but I liked it the least of McGarry's books so far. I am planning on reading the next book, but I hope that its plot, characters, and structure are more like those in her earlier work. This seems to be mostly personal preference, since this one is rated pretty high on Goodreads - higher, I think, than either of her other two novels.
Fans of New Adult and fans of McGarry's other novels will likely enjoy another solid companion full of familiar characters, real issues, and delicious tension. You can read this one on its own or after you've read her other works - you don't need one to understand the other, though you'll certainly get curious about the other characters if you've not read their stories yet.
-[5 stars] Giselle at Xpresso Reads: "Isaiah has been a favorite character of mine since book 1. He’s got a badass look but the kindest heart and most gentle soul. Crash Into You, written in his POV, made me adore him even more."
-[4 stars] Trish at Between the Lines: "Crash into You is a page turner with lovable characters that make you care about them. So much, that the last section of the book turned into a nervous, panic read for me."
-[4 stars] Lauren at Love Is Not a Triangle: "Crash into You made me fall deeper in love with Isaiah. It was a treat to get to know him better in this story. To have the chance to understand how life has shaped him, and to be able to root for him as he found the girl and worked towards a future that he could be proud of. "
-[3.5 stars] Christina at A Reader of Fictions: "There’s a lot of what made McGarry’s other novels such hits for me in Crash into You, but also some elements that had me rolling my eyes. Crash into You comes in as my least favorite McGarry book thus far, but has not impacted my desire to read every book McGarry writes."
-[3 stars] Sam at Realm of Fiction: "Crash Into You is my least favourite of the series so far. I still liked it well enough, however, and can firmly say I’ll be reading the next one."
If you've read the novel: Whose story are you most looking forward to reading? (That is, if you got to choose who would have his/her own book next.)