I think that what makes Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry appealing to so many teens (to the extent that it made the teen top ten list) is that it blends fantasy and realism so well. There is the romantic fantasy mixed with elements every teen can relate to. The tendency to say one thing while thinking another, the cliques and the difficulties inherent to high school, the inability to control one's life, the desire to rebel mixed with the desire to please others, I could go on. I think the relationships portrayed here - Echo and her father, Echo and her stepmother, Noah and Echo, Noah and his brothers, Echo and her friends (the public ones and non-public ones), Echo and the counselor, the counselor and Noah, Noah and his two "roommates" - along with the struggle to discover oneself outside the family dynamic make this a story most teens can relate to.
In fact, of all the
YA novels I read this semester, Pushing the Limits and Grave Mercy
by Robin LaFevers were my favorites. For me, both novels were romances and I thoroughly
enjoyed them for that very fact. I think that teens especially enjoy
the fantasy element and many often want a romantic element threaded
through their story as well. It's something I struggle with in my own
writing - how much romance to include in the YA fantasy novel I'm
writing when I really never intended to have any romance at all. Beta readers have made it clear, though, that they expect romance! As a result, I've
been trying to find a balance - enough of a romantic thread to appeal
without having the romance overtake the plot (thus turning it into an
actual romance novel).
Ultimately, I would declare Pushing the Limits a success. Though there were some rough spots that pulled me from the fictive world, overall, I was hooked.