Published: September 23, 2014.
Published by: Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
Source: Requested an ARC from the Canadian distributor for review. Thank you, Raincoast!
When a daredevil teen pushes herself too far, she must choose between two boys: the one who wants to keep her safe, and the one who dares her to return to her old self.
Seventeen-year-old Dyna comes from a family of risk takers and is an avid thrill-seeker herself, until the day she splinters her ankle in a terrible fall. Her whole life goes from mountain biking and rock climbing to sitting at home and attending group sessions at the bizarre alternative healing center that her hippie mother found. The boy who witnessed Dyna’s accident believes her injury is a wakeup call and he encourages her mild new lifestyle, but a young Afghanistan War veteran she meets at the healing center pushes her to start taking chances again. Forced to face the consequences of her daredevil impulses, Dyna finds herself in danger of risking the one thing she’s always treated with caution—her heart.
I went into Adrenaline Crush hoping for a fun and uplifting read about a girl who finds the courage to get back up after being taken down... and hopefully meets a cute guy along the way. On that, I got exactly what I wanted. It wasn't a perfect read and there are definitely some things that could have been improved upon, but it lived up to the promises it made and it gave me a pretty great cast of characters to enjoy it with.
One thing that Adrenaline Crush definitely has going for it is its characters. Dyna herself is a pretty intriguing wild child. I am very much unlike Dyna in that regard so it was really interesting for me getting into her head as she craved going faster and higher, and it felt really authentic. Meeting Dyna's family shows where her daredevil side came from. Her parents are slightly unconventional tattooed motorbike riders who seem to have always encouraged Dyna and her brother to take life by the horns. The whole dynamic of the family and how it changes throughout Dyna's struggle unfolds in a way that felt very real. Dyna's parents and brother have to adjust their lives as Dyna is forced to adjust hers and that causes both conflict and progress for each of them. I loved that they were involved because family is such an important element in so many teens' lives, especially when something so life-changing happens to them. They were definitely a highlight of the story for me.
When it comes down the the main conflict of the book, we're looking at whether or not Dyna can return to living life to its fullest and pushing her own limits. Her new boyfriend, Jay, encourages her to give it all up and be safe -- no more risks, no more thrills. Honestly, the sections she was with him after her accident were kind of boring, I think because he was trying so hard to keep her from really doing anything, and because she was so focused on trying to convince herself that he was right about her life and right for her. Then there's Pierce, the war veteran she meets who tries to show her that falling down is no reason not to get back up again. While I enjoyed seeing Dyna struggle with this balance of fear versus love of adventure, the outcome of the whole book was predictable from the beginning. Not that I was disappointed with how it turned out -- it's the ending I would have wanted for Dyna -- but I called it from the start. That didn't make reading the book less enjoyable for me, just a little less exciting.
This book is short: only 192 pages. Often with books that short, I find I'm left wishing there had been more because things weren't fleshed out enough for my taste. This happened a little with Adrenaline Crush, but thankfully quite not as much as I had worried it would. I do wish Pierce had been explored more as a character. I liked him a lot and thought he was such a great addition to Dyna's life, but I wanted to know him more. It seemed like there was some unexplored potential that could have fleshed him out even more and made me like him even more. The same goes for the unconventional therapy group that Dyna finds herself forced to attend. The other patients made for such an interesting bunch; I just wanted to keep hearing their stories. I do think the different people in the group were there enough for their purpose in this story, Dyna's story, but I did find myself wishing I could spend a little more time with them, learning more about them and doing more fear-facing adventures. I don't think the book really suffered too much because of these specific things, though. Having more of these characters would have added to the book, but it still got its story across with what was within its pages.
Overall, Adrenaline Crush is a quick but predictable read that still managed to entertain. While it could have used more fleshing out of some of the characters, they were still a fun bunch that I enjoyed spending these near-200 pages with. The message it holds at its core of not letting your setbacks take you away from what you love most came through loud and clear and was one of the book's shining moments.