Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Review: Crash into You by Katie McGarry

Release Date: November 26, 2013
Source: Netgalley
Published by: Harlequin Teen

Crash into You by Katie McGarry - Goodreads | Purchase

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.

The Romance:

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.

The Plot:

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.

The World:

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.

Real Issues:

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.

Other reviews:

-[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.)


  1. Such a great review, Christina! I haven't read this series, but I'm interested. That said, I definitely would start with the first ones because you liked this least. The romance doesn't sound that great (even if it was just traces of instalove, bleh), but I love how she added REAL things like panic attacks and such.

    Also, Sam IS an amazing blogger!

    1. Yay!! I'm glad I got you interested in the Katie McGarry novels. They're so addictive, and I'm curious to know what you'll think of them. From what I can tell, not everyone thought it had traces of instalove and for some people this book was the best because they loved Isaiah. Soooo it's all up to you Sunny :). I hope you enjoy them!

  2. I actually loved Pushing the Limits, but when I like.. read passages of it when I got my paperback this spring, I actually really disliked how much Noah used the word "baby". It was EVERYWHERE! I don't have problems with endearments, unless they're really idk.. like.. beautiful girl or something like that. It's just hard to pronounce or I guess what I'm trying to say not natural or too long to say. beautiful? ok, but to add girl to it? That's just too much lol. Isaiah is actually my favorite character (even though I've only read PtL so far) and I want to read his story so bad. I know that his heart is broken by Beth in Dare You To and it kind of breaks my heart because I was rooting for them in PtL. I'm glad that their feelings do develop over time and don't just showcase the attraction they have when they first meet. So happy that the car racing theme felt real to you. I know that Rachel from The Readers Den felt like it was a bit far-fetched in some ways. The rating, by the way, may be so high thanks to all the fangirls who got an arc lol. Most of the reviews are coming in after today. Though, the reviews I've seen so far by my friends haven't been as good as for the previous books. Oh, btw, I'd advise you to read Echo's best friend novella too--I hear it's one of the best kind novellas and I'm looking forward to reading it myself :)

    1. True. He uses baby and siren quite frequently -- I'm definitely not a fan of either, but I liked that he used them *after* he got to know Echo, whereas Isaiah's names came first. Funny that the person who uses 'cupcake' has somewhat of a problem with endearments :P. You might like Crash Into You more than I did then, if Isaiah is your favorite character... and his heart is broken, but I'm glad for it, because while I think they were a cute couple in PtL, in Dare You To, it's more obvious that they wouldn't work as well. "I know that Rachel from The Readers Den felt like it was a bit far-fetched in some ways. " -- Maybe? I'll have to check out what she's written. And ahhhh so maybe I will read the novella for Lila. KMcG has such addictive writing *sigh*

  3. I feel a lot like you did about this book. I really did like reading it, but I just know that my review is going to come of sounding really critical. There were some things that irritated me in Crash into You, but I also like McGarry's writing style a lot so it is hard to juggle all of my feelings about this book.

    Yes 1000 times about endearments. It is a huge pet peeve of mine and something I will be certain to address in my review. I don't like them in general, but I was constantly thinking, what 17 year old boy is calling his one week girlfriend "angel"? Plus, I feel like Noah in PtL also called Echo his angel a lot, so I was a bit weirded out by that.

    I did think their relationship moved really fast. I could understand it, especially after their adrenaline-filled first encounter, but at the same time it felt sometimes like they were heading toward insta-love territory.

    I would love a book from Abby's perspective! She is so interesting and definitely has a story to tell that is only hinted at in the book. Don't get me wrong, I will be reading the fourth book featuring West, but it feels a bit too similar to the whole bad boy vibe that has already been done in the previous books. I think Abby is too interesting of a character not to deserve her own book.

    1. "I really did like reading it, but I just know that my review is going to come of sounding really critical. " -- YES 100%. And I have no idea how to fix that bit of it because it's just that it hits on certain spots seem more prone to criticism? Like, as you said, the endearments. Noah called Echo siren a lot, and I was ehhhh about that too, but Isaiah's endearments started from the FIRST MOMENT v. Noah's after meeting Echo. I think that made a difference to me.

      "I could understand it, especially after their adrenaline-filled first encounter, but at the same time it felt sometimes like they were heading toward insta-love territory." -- YES.

      AND YES: "I would love a book from Abby's perspective! She is so interesting and definitely has a story to tell that is only hinted at in the book." From what I can tell, a lot of people want an Abby book!

  4. I do agree that the terms of endearment were slightly annoying. I mean, it wasn't really enough to make me dislike the romance, but every time the ole "angel" came out it was a bit -_-

    There were definitely some weird plotlines in Crash Into You that didn't seem quite so everyday/relatable (the whole criminal underground thing), but for some reason that didn't really affect how realistic I thought the plot was. Not quite sure why...maybe I just wasn't overthinking it or something.

    1. Yes. Yes. That face exactly!

      The criminal underground was less relatable in terms of everyday life, but yes -- "for some reason that didn't really affect how realistic I thought the plot was." I think that's also because it felt well researched? At least in having these places exist. And also drag racing is a cool way of differentiating your contemporary novel from others, even if that's not every day life relatable :D.

  5. I own the ebook version of Pushing the Limits, but haven't gotten to it yet, though I plan to. I mean, the amount of love this series (group of companion novels?) gets is amazing, so I'm excited about it. Moving on...

    The romance seems to be a little flawed in some respects, but I think I'll find it endearing. I love a little healing here and there, and I'm interested in how McGarry writes the strong feelings the two have between each other almost immediately.

    I'm iffy on terms of endearment, some annoy me, others don't, and sometimes it just depends on how their used. So it'll be interesting to see how I will react to the whole "angel" thing. And the overprotective love interests is something I'm iffy about also. It depends on how it's used.

    Too many plot threads? Well, I'll look out for that if I love Pushing the Limits enough to read Crash Into You :) The racing is an element that I adore already. I don't think I've ever read raw and gritty racing scenes (actually, I don't think I've read a book with racing scenes at all), so that will be something new for me.

    Oh, and real issues! Love books with those ^_^ Great review, Christina!

    1. READ PUSHING THE LIMITS!!! I'm curious what you'll think of it! (Note to self: remember to ask Lesley about this tomorrow / Monday when visiting her blog.)

      McGarry excels at writing about strong feelings between the main couples, so I hope that it's as you say - that you'll find them endearing and be okay with the terms of endearment as used in this novel and others in the series. Heh, too many plot threads is just my preference for a contemporary novel ;). AHHH if you want a novel with racing scenes, you gotta get into The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater. Or read this novel. Either or. Both are great for racing scenes if you're interested! :)

  6. This was my least favorite of the series so far, too. I agree with every issue you had, especially about this book focusing more on the romance than the healing aspect. I also disliked how different Isaiah seemed in this book. In previous books, he was so tough, and I know that part of that was a facade, but it felt like he did a complete 180 in this book. It's great for a character to finally be himself because he finds someone he can be that way with, but it seemed almost unnatural coming from gruff Isaiah.

    I was really hoping to see Abby and Logan in the next book. They seemed like they clicked in Crash Into You, and I think they both have issues to overcome that they could help each other with. But I'm glad to essentially be getting a story for two nearly new characters. We don't know West all that well from the little page time he got in this book, so his story will be pretty new to me, which is a plus.

    Glad you finally gave this series a try, even if the book that did it ended up not being your favorite. :D

    1. Funny that you should say he seemed tough in previous novels but wasn't here. I still got the tough vibe from him, but he seemed more alpha in this novel than I thought he was from the other novels. :P "It's great for a character to finally be himself because he finds someone he can be that way with, but it seemed almost unnatural coming from gruff Isaiah." -- I'm curious now as to which parts seemed unnatural to you.

      I wanted Abby and Ethan! Or Abby and Logan. Abby in general! I'm a bit sad that West has the next book instead of them, since it's as you said - they both seem to have some issues to deal with... but this too: "But I'm glad to essentially be getting a story for two nearly new characters. ... his story will be pretty new to me, which is a plus."


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