Sunday, October 9, 2011

‘Going Too Far’ by Jennifer Echols

“All Meg has ever wanted is to get away. Away from high school. Away from her backwater town. Away from her parents who seem determined to keep her imprisoned in their dead-end lives. But one crazy evening involving a dare and forbidden railroad tracks, she goes way too far...and almost doesn't make it back.
“John made a choice to stay. To enforce the rules. To serve and protect. He has nothing but contempt for what he sees as childish rebellion, and he wants to teach Meg a lesson she won't soon forget. But Meg pushes him to the limit by questioning everything he learned at the police academy. And when he pushes back, demanding to know why she won't be tied down, they will drive each other to the edge -- and over....” – Amazon description

Going Too Far is the first Jennifer Echols book I’ve read, and I promise it won’t be the last.  I am a big fan of realistic YA characters.  In real life, teenagers are not perfect.  They make mistakes, say the wrong things, act before they think.  So many times in YA fiction, authors either make their teen characters unrealistically perfect, or they try to force them into being quirky to the point of ridiculousness.  Echols captured a realism in her characters that felt refreshing. 

Meg is a bit of a rebel.  She drinks, smokes pot and is promiscuous.  But it is clear from the first page that this behavior is a defense mechanism burying some serious pain.  John is nineteen-going-on-forty. Despite his good grades and talent for art, John has chosen to forgo college and go directly to the police academy.  Being a cop feeds his do-gooder side and his need to help others make good decisions.  When John sees the destructive path Meg is going down, he works with the local DA to make Meg ride along with him in his squad car for a whole week.  He wants her to see the possible consequences of her actions. 

The connection between Meg and John is immediate, but their romantic feelings for each other take a little time to develop.  Of course, the whole story take place over one week, so it is a fairly quick romance.  Given how quickly teenage emotions change, I didn’t find the speed with which Meg and John feel for each other unrealistic, especially given they each carried emotional baggage and desperately needed someone to turn to. 

There were a couple of minor issues that bothered me… Meg has blue hair.  I don’t have a problem with that, but I do have a problem with it being mentioned every other page.  Readers do not need to be beat over the head with these kinds of details over and over.  My other issue is that I wanted John to be just a little bit older.  In the beginning, Meg mistakes him for being forty-years-old due to his attitude and maturity.  I guess I pictured him in his early twenties, so when he reveals he is only nineteen, I didn’t buy it.  I also didn’t buy it that Meg and John were only a year apart in school, in a small town, had classes together in the past and had some social connections in common, yet she had no idea who he was.  It just didn’t make any sense. Lastly, I thought Meg’s reasons for being claustrophobic were lame.  It basically stems from one incident.  Given the debilitating claustrophobic problems her has, I would have expected more. 

Minor issues aside, I really enjoyed reading this book.  The characters were great.  I loved the setting.  The romance was swoon-worthy.  I can’t wait to check out some of Echols’ other books.

Overall, I give Going Too Far…

Plot – 4 bookmarks
Character development – 4 ½ bookmarks
Love story – 4 ½ bookmarks
Dream cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) – Gia Mantegna (Meg), Liam Hemsworth (John), Allison Siko (Tiffany), Nick Roux (Eric)


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