Pre-read: Can I say cover lust? :P I'm really looking forward to reading this.
Post-read I really liked reading Isaiah's and Rachel's respective story, though there were times I really had to suspend disbelief at some of the events and character actions in here. I think this has a consistency with the other installments of the series for quality - good in the places where it works, but also somewhat cliche and with some flawed points in others.
I enjoyed "Crash into You" about as much as Katie McGarry's other work, not more, not less - probably right at the same level. She has a way of crafting characters who are flawed and faced with challenges alongside those flaws, but yet you still root for them anyway, even if you have an idea of where the story may turn after a time.
This book threw a few curveballs that I wasn't expecting, but it felt like it came across far too quickly in the last 25% of the novel to really digest properly, compared to the somewhat slower build at the beginning and middle of the novel. I appreciated the chemistry between Isaiah and Rachel - they were both characters I felt for their respective situations, though the both of them also made decisions and acted in ways that made me groan for sheer silly and inane reasons, but I followed it.
So, the template of the story is much like the previous novels, and for some, that might be a sign of fatigue, but I tend to like slice of life, coming of age, contemporary romances just as long as I can identify and follow the characters. Isaiah is the bad boy who has a broken past as much as a broken present. His mother wants back in his life, he's staying with Noah to avoid his foster family, and he participates in street racing that isn't exactly the most legal means of doing anything.
Rachel is the good girl caught in a controlling family. She suffers debilitating panic attacks, and she feels like everyone perceives her as weak when she really wants to do her own thing, and step out of the shadow of her deceased sister who went too soon from cancer.
It took a while for me to follow Isaiah and Rachel coming together (what with them street racing and on the run after the law becomes involved in an incident), but I liked them well enough - and their chemistry in places was very cute. Isaiah's respective story was a little frustrating for the resistance he showed his biological mother (though you understand as the story goes on, his grief is palpable and not without merit towards the decisions his mother made). Rachel's story was frustrating because I constantly wanted her to find her footing, step up to the plate, and start saying no to all the people asking her not only to lie in the dimensions of her family, but also lie to herself. I was glad that the two backstories for the characters ended up being resolved in a fulfilling way by the end of the story.
But I'll admit, the last 25% of this novel really seemed a little too convenient, when certain tragedies and a certain victory came just a little too easily for the spectrum of the conflict. I found it hard to believe that Rachel would forgive her brothers so easily for what they did. I found it hard that basically Rachel and Isaiah BOTH ended up in similar tragic circumstances surrounding motor vehicles, AND it was a little too neatly tied for what the situation allowed. And there were times when I thought Rachel's respective jealous streaks seemed off with the timing of the overarching conflict even when Isaiah had said multiple times that Beth and him weren't going out.
Beth was really annoying in this story, for some reason. For side characters, I LOVED Abby and Ethan's characters in particular. Ethan for being Rachel's win and just for his general demeanor, and Abby for being kick-awesome, though she had her respective flaws.
All in all, I think I'm still getting along swimmingly with Katie McGarry's series, though I think what keeps these stories from being great ones for me are the cliches and off-points in the narrative. I think the best I've read in this series to date has been "Dare You To". But I'm more than happy to read more of what McGarry has to offer, in this series and beyond.
Overall score: 3/5 stars
Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher Harlequin TEEN.