Review: Crash Into You by Katie McGarry

November 19, 2013

Title: Crash Into You
Author: Katie McGarry
Publication date: Nomvember 26, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Source: Publisher (Edelweiss)
Amazon | Goodreads
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.
Ever since Katie McGarry's debut novel Pushing The Limits, I've been hooked to her writing. She has this way of taking a story and making it so intense and deep, that you just know that no other author could've done a better job.

That said, I cant say that I liked Crash Into You as much as I liked her previous works. I actually had a few issues with it. BUT, I think most readers of YA contemporary romance will still enjoy this book.

Crash Into You is Isaiah's story (Yay! This is the first time I've got his spelling right on the first try! I always leave out the first 'a'). Yeah, I'm talking about that moody, angry, aggressive and self destructive boy from Pushing the Limits and Dare You To, who, by the way, looks (on the cover) like nothing I imagined him to be. He actually looks much tamer and more peaceful than I thought. Huh. Must be the fact that he's all snuggled up with Rachel *wink*. And how apt is it that they're in a car? That's so cool!

Anywho... I never liked Isaiah much in the previous books, mostly because of his attitude towards, well, everything. But in Dare You To, we saw a softer side to him, that kind of made me feel sad for him, and helped me understand a bit about where he was coming from. The author's build up towards Crash Into You, in terms of unveiling aspects of Isaiah's characters to us was perfectly paced, gradually changing our opinion of him, until we were ready to hear his story.

So, what do I think about Crash Into You? Honestly, I'm not sure. Here's a timeline of my emotions as I was reading it:

All over the place, isn't it? Well, that's just how it was. There were parts I really liked, parts where I just had to give in and skim, parts I got really irritated about, and then there were parts I loved again.

When Isaiah is hard pressed for money to pay the bills for the place he shares with Noah, he turns to car racing in the dark roads where gambles and bets are made. Where if you make one mistake, its repercussions can reverberate throughout your entire life. It's a risk, but Isaiah has always been one to jump in even when it could cost him, so no surprises there. But when Rachel, a girl unaware of the ways of the track, turns up to race, Isaiah gets into trouble trying to play the knight in shining armour. They both end up in debt to Eric, a kid on the tracks, with only six weeks to pay it back.

One reason Crash Into You was really interesting to me was how the author attempts to deviate from character stereotypes. That's always been one of McGarry's fortes, and it was great to see the twists she gave her characters to make them stand out. For instance, Rachel is a typically girly girl, delicate, extremely shy, and prone to panic attacks when forced to talk in public, but, she's addicted to speed. Fast cars are what catch her fancy, and she turns to speed driving to help her unwind, the rush from speeding providing a temporary reprieve from reality. Not the typical hobby of the average teenage girl.

However, where in the past these departures from the norm have been accompanied by equally compelling plots and relationship dynamics, Crash Into You falls short there. The books succumbs to what I think is one of the most over used and unrealistic tropes ever - insta love. It starts off really nice:
God does exist and he sent an angel in a white Mustang to prove it. (ARC, Crash Into You)
I honestly love that sentence; it's so typically Isaiah. But then, after just one night (where nothing even remotely path breaking in a romantic way occurs), this happens:
She discovered a deep hole in my chest and somehow filled it with her existence. Now she's gone, leaving me alone, leaving me hollow. (ARC, Crash Into You)
I want to hit my head against the wall every time I read this. Okay, I understand how Isaiah could've thought this, considering almost everyone from his life walked away from him. But, I dont know, I just felt like this was too mushy for Isaiah. It felt like Isaiah's 'voice' in the lovey-dovey parts just wasn't him.

On a more positive note, I love Rachel's character. Rachel is a replacement daughter for her parents (unvarnished truth here. Promise.), who lost their first daughter, Colleen, to leukemia. It's obvious that her mother hasn't yet dealt with her grief properly, or made peace with her daughter's death. This prompts her to expect Rachel to behave exactly like Colleen, and suppress any interest that's not typical of a girl. I truly loved reading about Rachel's relationship with her elder brothers (four, you guys! *fans self*), and how she slowly, but surely, learns to break free from their overprotectiveness and put an end to her mother's implicit demands. It was a liberating experience for her, and McGarry deals with that part of the story beautifully. Along with Rachel, a whole passel of delightful new characters are introduced, along with incentive to expect that they may be the protagonists of upcoming books.

In Crash Into You, Isaiah also has to deal with the reappearance of his mother in his life. She's out of jail, and wants to get to know him better now. Not surprisingly, he's reluctant to pursue such a relationship, but with the help of her spunky new social worker who seems to know what he's feeling before he knows it himself, he seems inclined to lower his barriers. But it's only a very short glimpse of this that we have, and I wish the relationship between Isaiah and his mother was explored more thoroughly.

Katie McGarry has always excelled in creating distinctive characters even for supporting roles, and Crash Into You is no different. Abby, West, Ethan, and Logan make for such interesting characters, and it would be so awesome if they had their own stories. On that vein, here's some great news: Take Me On, the next book in the series, is West's story!

While Crash Into You did have it's faults, the last quarter of the book made up for the previous botches. The finish of the book is simply fantastic and covered everything that was lacking in the beginning, soon making me forget that I was irritated with a few parts of the story. Telling you what it is would be a definite spoiler, but let me just say that It's. Simply. Perfect.

Bottomline: Katie McGarry has done it again! A contemporary YA story that stands out from the rest for it's distinctive characters, Crash Into You is an enjoyable read, and leaves you wanting more of its characters.

Lit Up Review: I loved seeing his world, and who he knew other than the characters we had already met.

On Books!: Crash Into You was funny, sweet and surprising. The credit, I think, goes to the characters who popped out of the page and refused to be pigeonholed into a "type".

The Readers Den: While Crash Into You wasn’t my favorite of the three it was still a compelling read.

Holding Quote:
Maybe this is what happens when you fall in love. On the outside a lighter is nothing amazing, but it holds all the ingredients that can create something wonderful. With a few pushes in the right direction, you can inspire something so brilliant that it pushes back the darkness.

The first moment I saw him, the night people clamored over each other to step out of his way, I was frightened. The guy with earrings and tattoos and an energy radiating danger. Now-inside and out-all I see is beauty.