Going into this book, I was optimistic because it has:
- Nice cars
- A female main character who knows cars better than a lot of the male characters around her
- A character who struggles with anxiety
Basically, I thought all of these things could be handled really well and that I—someone who can appreciate a nice car though I admit ignorance on the mechanics, and who deals with anxiety especially in situations that call attention to me—would come out of it feeling satisfied. I also liked Pushing the Limits and liked Dare You To even more. I was looking forward to the guys in this series finally having to acknowledge that girls should be respected not because they are ~girls~ but because they are people.
Unfortunately, there was just too much of the same-old-same-old in this book. When the girls did get respect from guys, it was because of their ladyparts (like, even when a total buttmunch was impressed with Rachel's car knowledge, it was more of a "that makes her different and hot" thing than a "wow let me talk to her about cars because we have a common interest" thing). The main characters were clichés, and frustrating ones at that, and the secondary characters caught my attention far more. I don't think that's how it's supposed to work.
All I'm going to remember about this book is how uncomfortable it made me feel—uncomfortable with the way girls are viewed in the book, uncomfortable with how horrible the parents are, uncomfortable with how all of the cars are apparently female (because they're objects?) but none of them have names, and of course, uncomfortable with the fact that the book mentions a Chevy Comet.
There is no such thing as a Chevy Comet.
Mostly, I didn't quite buy Isaiah and Rachel's relationship as much as I bought Echo and Noah's or Ryan and Beth's. Isaiah becomes obsessed with her pretty much the moment he sees her, deciding that she's an angel because of the way she looks. Of course, Rachel fulfills this expectation: never had a boyfriend, never been kissed, never done anything her parents or her brothers didn't want her to do, until now. Isaiah was looking for an angel, and Rachel was looking for trouble-but-not-really-trouble, which is exactly what Isaiah is. He looks like trouble; everyone thinks he's trouble, but he's not. How convenient.
To be honest, Isaiah really bothered me—which is probably sacrilege to say because he seems to be everyone's favorite Katie McGarry guy, but I don't care. I do not like the way he talks about girls (I felt this way with Noah, too). I do not like the way he gives the impression that girls are delicate flowers to be protected, but then turns around and tells Rachel she is strong. It felt like he was just telling her what she wanted to hear. I do not like the frequency with which he casually uses the word "bitch" in regard to women who are only trying to help him. I do not like the possessive terms he uses when he's talking about Rachel, "my angel," "my girl," or when he's talking about Echo, "Noah's girl." I understand that some girls don't mind this, that they might even find it attractive, but the idea of having possession over another human is something that my mind rejects completely. Granted, I know Isaiah doesn't actually think he owns Rachel and he doesn't, like, treat her as if she's currency, but he does occasionally try to control her under the guise of "protecting" her, and that's just way too Edward Cullen for me. He rarely lets her speak for herself around other guys, instead choosing to hold her hand and stand in front of her like she's a shy child.
As for Rachel, she was a cliché too. The quiet sister of four overprotective brothers who won't listen to her even when she does manage to open her mouth for once. The girl who is into cars but hides it because her super-girly mom doesn't like it. The girl who thinks her purpose is to please other people, so she makes herself sick on a regular basis trying to do so. The girl who doesn't want to be viewed as weak but somehow doesn't realize that she's doing that exact thing to herself and another person—seeing her mother as too weak to handle the truth. And don't even get me started on the hypocrite brothers, who screw up their own lives so badly but expect Rachel to be perfect. I don't understand how they could be so protective of her and then be one of the main causes of her pain, acting like they love her too much to let anything happen to her but then insisting that she keep quiet about her panic attacks. Ethan, with his "I'll only cover for you if you're really just driving, but I expect you to cover for me even though I've never once told you where I go when you do." Just. Ugh.
The only characters I really liked in this book were Logan and Abby. Not knowing who Take Me On was about, I was seriously hoping it would be one (or both) of them. But it's not. It's about one of the hypocrite brothers, and I'm so not interested. Crash Into Me was too long as it is, I don't need to put myself through another one.
Three stars because it was a decent book if you can get past the total lack of gender-role destruction that I expected.