Breaking the Rules
By Katie McGarry
Released: December 8th, 2014
Genre: Young Adult
Breaking the Rules is the continuation of Noah and Echo’s story, which was originally introduced in the first book, Pushing the Limits. Throughout the course of the first book, both Noah and Echo try to deal with their painful pasts while also trying to navigate a somewhat rocky new relationship with each other. While many of the main issues both characters faced in the first book were resolved, many fans – as well as Katie herself – felt as if their story had no come full circle yet, so Breaking the Rules was the result.
Breaking the Rules takes off right after Noah and Echo’s graduation from high school. Before their first semester of college, they decide to go on a road trip out west, where Echo will go to show her artwork to various collectors and shows. They use this time together to try and strengthen their current relationship and as a means to try and get away from the turmoil of their lives, if only for a little bit. But that quickly comes to and end when Echo finds out that her mother, a famous artist, has been telling people to buy her paintings. While Echo tries to come to terms with such news, Noah finds out that his grandparents, whom had left him at the mercy of the foster system after his parents died, had never known he’d been in the system at all! Not only that, but they want to meet him, face to face. With these new events thrown their way, both get a little on edge and start questioning their choices in life. This, of course, leads to unrest in their relationship. Where they had been laughing and getting along just a week before, Noah and Echo start to bicker and fight. After a while, they must ask themselves if they can overcome such obstacles and be the person they’d promised each other they’d always be.
I’ll be the first to admit that Pushing the Limits was one of the books in this series that took me a while to get into. I can’t say that I didn’t exactly like it – because I love every book in the series, but it was definitely one of the weaker of Katie’s works. I think part of my reluctance with liking the first one was because I had a hard time connecting with the main characters and I grew increasingly frustrated by not knowing exactly what happened in Echo’s past. Finally, I think I felt it was weaker because it hadn’t answered all those questions we had at the end of the first book.
Luckily, though, Breaking the Rules gives the reader everything they could have ever wanted when it comes to a Pushing the Limits sequel. We get more of the awesome chemistry between Echo and Noah, as well as a chance to delve deeper into their troubled pasts as they both confront family members who had hurt them. We get to see them grow and mature in a way that we didn’t in the first novel. Instead of just being teenagers, we get to see them grow into the adults they always hoped they’d be. And, from the standpoint of a reader who’s been as invested in the series as I have, this leaves me highly satisfied. I love happy endings.
I’ll go straight out and say it. Katie McGarry is my new favorite contemporary writer. Screw Sarah Dessen. Hell, I even love her more than John Green. I love the fact that she’s not afraid to tackle heavy subjects in her books, like homelessness, substance abuse and death. Her writing is so raw and honest. As I read through Breaking the Rules, I could feel Echo’s anger with her mother, yet her aching desire to reconnect and make things right. I could feel Noah’s hesitancy to believe that his family might be something other than the trouble he’d always believed them to be, as well as his struggle to overcome his own grief and anger about his mother’s death. It’s not so often that a writer can pull your emotions through the wringer and that’s exactly what I love about Katie’s writing. It’s so very real.
Not only that, but she has one of the best “male” voices out there. I’ll admit that there are a ton of female writers who had write a swoon-worthy male lead, but Katie really ups the game in that department. I’ve loved every single guy she’s written – from Noah to Ryan to Isaiah to West. In Breaking the Rules, especially, it was fun going from Echo’s first person perspective to Noah’s. She was seamlessly able to switch gears with each chapter and kept both true to their original character. I swear, her guy’s perspectives seem so legit that I could almost swear she had some guy writing half her novels on the sly! Ha!
Really, I can’t praise Katie McGarry and the Pushing the Limits series highly enough. I have all four books in hardback and they have a place of honor – all signed! – on my bookshelf. (Unfortuantely, Breaking the Rules was an e-book release only. *Sigh*) If you are a fan of contemporary teen literature – of even the new adult genre – do yourself a favor and check out her work. You certainly won’t regret it!