Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Review: Nowhere But Here

Nowhere But Here (Thunder Road, #1)Author: Katie McGarry
Series: Thunder Road, #1
Released: June 4th 2015
Publisher: Mira INK
Length: 496 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: The Book Depository

An unforgettable new series from acclaimed author Katie McGarry about taking risks, opening your heart and ending up in a place you never imagined possible.
Seventeen-year-old Emily likes her life the way it is: doting parents, good friends, good school in a safe neighborhood. Sure, she's curious about her biological father—the one who chose life in a motorcycle club, the Reign of Terror, over being a parent—but that doesn't mean she wants to be a part of his world. But when a reluctant visit turns to an extended summer vacation among relatives she never knew she had, one thing becomes clear: nothing is what it seems. Not the club, not her secret-keeping father and not Oz, a guy with suck-me-in blue eyes who can help her understand them both. 
Oz wants one thing: to join the Reign of Terror. They're the good guys. They protect people. They're…family. And while Emily—the gorgeous and sheltered daughter of the club's most respected member—is in town, he's gonna prove it to her. So when her father asks him to keep her safe from a rival club with a score to settle, Oz knows it's his shot at his dream. What he doesn't count on is that Emily just might turn that dream upside down. 
No one wants them to be together. But sometimes the right person is the one you least expect, and the road you fear the most is the one that leads you home. 

It is now abundantly clear that McGarry and I will never find common ground. I’ve read several of her books by now, and while I tried very hard not to nitpick, I inevitably struggled to finish them. It needs to be said that I went into this book with the best of intentions. I was hoping that a new series would mean a clean slate, a new opportunity and a chance to build a very different opinion. Alas, it was not meant to be.

I have to say that I fully understand the appeal of Katie McGarry’s books. They’re passionate and clever and they rely on well proven formulas. McGarry always seems to know what she’s doing, why she’s doing it and how she should go about doing it, and the end result is always a YA contemporary romance built to please her readers.

The effect on me, however, is precisely opposite.

It is awfully nice to see McGarry move to a different settings, with different characters and different circumstances. Nowhere But Here takes us to the world of motorcycle clubs, be it legit or otherwise, and people who live within these brotherhoods and consider them to be more important than anything else in the world. I applaud McGarry for her attempt to show that bikers aren’t all criminals and brutes, but in order to actually achieve that, her characters needed much more nuance. I felt that Emily’s newly discovered family members were all clichéd and some scenes and descriptions made me slightly uncomfortable.

Emily herself was somewhat of a cliché, which bothered me to no end. In order to create a strong contrast between her and Oz, McGarry made her too innocent and pure, far too naïve and forgiving. It’s a common problem I have with her characters – they never quite seem real to me. Oz was even more of a cliché. A womanizer and a bad boy all around changed his ways the second he met a beautiful, innocent girl. But what really made me pause was how he seemed brainwashed at certain times, a club drone with no thoughts of his own. I understand now it was a journey he needed to take, but at times it was pushed too far.

There’s no denying the quality of Katie McGarry’s writing, though. She may re-write the same formulas, but she does it exceptionally well. Her style is clean, precise and capable of evoking just the right emotions at exactly the right time. It is, I dare say, her saving grace in my eyes and it’s why I kept trying with her books even after several disappointments.

It’s clear, however, that it’s time to give up. My aversion to contemporary YA is certainly to blame, but several authors like Melina Marchetta, Jandy Nelson, Kirsty Eagar, Cath Crowley or Laura Buzo have been able to temporarily cure me of it and yet Katie McGarry never did. I suppose that alone says all there’s left to say.

A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.


  1. McGarry isn't my favorite author either and I like contemporary YA.

  2. :Ah darn, I was really hoping you would love this one more. Wonderfully worded, honest review Maja!!

  3. Hmm, I can definitely see why this one didn't work out for you, Maja. I just saw Oz and Emily as not really cliched characters, idk. The motorcycle aspect is the most iffy, I think. Perhaps it's time for you to move on from McGarry, eh? Thanks for your honest thoughts, as always!

  4. Sorry to see you always have the same problems with all of her books. I haven't tried any but it's true that I heard a lot about them. One day I'll try and I wonder if I'll have the same feeling.

  5. I find there are certain authors I just don't mesh with. I can see why you'd have issues with McGarry's writing, especially if her characters feel cliched and unrealistic to you, Maja. I'm still looking forward to this book, but I'll temper my expectations a bit. Great honest review! :)

  6. I still haven't read any of her books so I really cannot comment, but my reluctance to read her books might mean something in itself... I'm not a big contemporary reader after all!

  7. I was super confused for a minute by that cover, I was thinking this was a book of hers I hadn't heard of yet ;-) Sorry you haven't been able to really connect with her books at all Maja, but I completely understand. I've found a couple authors who simply don't work for me despite trying a number of their books. They're just not the authors for me and now that I know that, I can just move on:)

  8. Aww I'm sorry you weren't able to enjoy this book more, but I completely understand. JLA is that kind of author for me. I get the appeal of her books, but they never work for me. I don't even bother picking up her books now.
    I hope you get to read some amazing YA contemporaries soon, Maja!
    Lovely review.

  9. I hear ya, I have only read one of her books, and I liked it, but it felt like every other NA book out there. I am with you, it is hard to cure me of not liking YA or NA contemp they all read the same it seems to me.

  10. Yup, I've also only read one of her other books - Pushing the Limits, I think, but just found it too formulaic and angsty. Didn't work for me, and her other books seem to follow in the same vein. Just not my thing. (Even though I do love YA contemporary as a subgenera)

  11. You're a dasher of hopes, Maja! I had hope for this one. And now it's "Hello, Motorcycle Club - Goodbye, Motorcycle Club!" Too bad. I miss SOA so bad :))

  12. No thank you, the innocent and the bad boy, yawn

  13. I've only read her very first book and I liked it but yet it was just a bit too much drama for me and I just haven't picked up more. I think that maybe I'd just fall into feeling the same way as you.

  14. I'm giving McGarry one last try with this book, too. I enjoyed Pushing the Limits--but was also a lot younger when I read it. Now, McGarry hasn't worked for me, as far as her more recent novels are concerned, but I've heard a lot of good things about this one and am curious to see how it'll go for me. Sorry to see this didn't work out nearly as well for you, Maja, but I suspect I'll be joining you in avoiding McGarry's books in the future.

  15. Katie McGarry tends to be hit or miss for me; I didn't mind this book but more for the writing rather than the recycled characters/story-lines.

    A lovely review! Sharon - Obsession with Books

  16. Myesh, I've only read one book of McGarry's - Crash Into You - and it wasn't for me either. I mean it was fine, but I found it so formulaic and cliched. And I guess I'm sorry to hear that it sounds like all of her books are like that. But like you, I can totally see why a lot of other people really dig her work! Just not for me.

  17. This cover is so different than the US one! I like it but I think I like the motorcycle-focused one better (just because it shows a bit more of what the MC is involved in and isn't so typically romance-y). I like McGarry but she really is so formulaic, which is why she's so popular, I'd guess!

  18. Yes, yes, and more yes. I felt the exact same way about this one, and had hopes for it since it was a new series as well. But nope, same formula and same cliches. So disappointed.

  19. I have the same relationship with Simone Elkeles, but my teens absolutely love her books. I just try to do my best and at least know a little about her books, but I don't go out of my way to read them.


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