PJV Quickie: CRASH INTO YOU was probably my most anticipated young adult novel of the final part of this year. I really got into McGarry’s earlier two novels and could not wait for Isaiah’s story. Plus, the chick’s name was Rachel. How much more could I ask for? Unfortunately CRASH INTO YOU was nothing compared to Beth and Noah’s stories and this makes me all sad-face.

Review: Isaiah is now living with Noah in their own apartment, but even though their dreams have been realized, it’s nothing like what he planned. Even though their apartment is a dive, the two boys can not pay the rent and maintain their school and bills. Isaiah decides to make some extra cash by street racing. One time only.

Unfortunately that one time will resonate with him for a long time. A hot new Mustang pulls up and out of it comes a fresh-faced female that obviously doesn’t belong. She wants to race and Isaiah only wants to protect her from this world. Eric, the street thug that runs the criminal underground of Isaiah’s world only sees a mark, so Isaiah steps in and takes charge. His association puts them both in danger as the cops show up and the two guys that Rachel came with use the opportunity to rob Eric. Eric, instead of blaming the two guys, blame Rachel and use it as a bargaining chip to get Isaiah to potentially work for him. If they don’t raise enough money to pay Eric off “something bad will happen” to Rachel.

Rachel and Isaiah decide to work together to pay off Eric, by legally racing Rachel’s car. In the middle of it all, they both need to work out their own issues, Isaiah’s inability to trust and Rachel’s inability to stand-up to her family. By the time they get through all of the problems, maybe they can find love. The story-line, while similar to the other titles, was really a bit more hoaky then the other two. Featuring the stereotypical “bad-guy” that just threatens – while the good guys scramble to obey because of shaky reasoning. Can’t call the cops because Rachel’s parents can’t know, or they’ll find out Isaiah isn’t living with his foster parents, etc. Silly reasons when you think that this thug might actually hurt Rachel or Isaiah or potentially kill them.

Isaiah has always been the enigma of the group, painted as a drug user, tatted up and a bit stand-off-ish, I figured his story would be a bit more dark. I was expecting a lot, which is probably the reason for my lukewarm reception of this novel. For one, I believe that Katie McGarry took certain short-cuts when it came to this book, like the aforementioned stereotypical antagonist. But, a more focal problem within the plot was the fact that she blew off Isaiah’s drug-use as “play.” He was painted in his own novel as someone that needed control, so the tattoos and the drug use were all “for show”. He mentions in CRASH INTO YOU that he did drugs to keep up appearances, but never enough to get high.

Yet, who was he keeping up appearances for? A guy like this, one that is too scared to “stand-up” against peer pressure will  just smoke it up when there is a party…not when it is just Noah, Beth and Isaiah, right? Because these are his BFFs – no need for fooling with them? But he was constantly lighting up a joint in the first book. Noah is a person that Isaiah thinks of as a brother, yet he had to keep up his image even for Noah, when they were alone? This scenario didn’t sit well with me. McGarry could have worked through Isaiah’s drug use, instead of just eradicating it without a backwards glance.

The reasoning behind this was most likely, because the female character Rachel, wouldn’t have been able to mesh well with a drug-user. Rachel, whom I wanted to like but just couldn’t, would have skittered like a scared rabbit if you added drug-use to Isaiah’s problems. She constantly whined about her brothers, mother, father, Isaiah protecting her – but then she was a type of character that needed protecting. She didn’t’ show much backbone within the book. She would run-away, or she would vomit, hide, cower as soon as she was faced with something major. She let everyone make decisions for her. I just didn’t feel an attraction between her and Isaiah. I blame Rachel as the main reason for my middle of the road liking of the book.

Don’t get me wrong, there were some great things with the novel. Again McGarry paints a great story behind the romance, she has a way of depicting scenes that resonate. Her tales are realistic and romantic with a happily-ever-after that you never expect. I enjoy McGarry’s writing, even though I think she needs to back off on the receptive descriptions, especially when describing her characters. Isaiah was always described as tattooed, Rachel always as a blond angel.

My favorite part of the book was being in Isaiah’s head. His point-of-view was fresh and a bit screwy and just great to read.

Overall, the book was lackluster in my opinion, probably because I hyped it up so high, Noah and Beth’s stories were fantastic and I expected the same from Isaiah. While the delivery was still on par with McGarry’s style and gritty determination, I feel the plot could have been flushed out better, with more maturity and the character of Rachel could have been given more life. I wasn’t that won over with her brother, West, which will be the next book – but I do plan on reading on in the series. Nothing like a bit of screwed up love stories to get a girl swooning.

Recommendations: This book/series is recommended for fans of contemporary romance young adult novels. The books focus on “across the tracks” relationships and intense emotional and psychological problems, so if you like that sort of thing. There are sexual interactions, talk of drug use, threats of violence…may be unsuitable for a younger teen audience.