Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire
Genre: Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Published: May 26th 2011 by Simon & Schuster UK
The new Abby Abernathy is a good girl. She doesn’t drink or swear, and she has the appropriate percentage of cardigans in her wardrobe. Abby believes she has enough distance between her and the darkness of her past, but when she arrives at college with her best friend, her path to a new beginning is quickly challenged by Eastern University’s Walking One-Night Stand.
Travis Maddox, lean, cut, and covered in tattoos, is exactly what Abby needs—and wants—to avoid. He spends his nights winning money in a floating fight ring, and his days as the ultimate college campus charmer. Intrigued by Abby’s resistance to his appeal, Travis tricks her into his daily life with a simple bet. If he loses, he must remain abstinent for a month. If Abby loses, she must live in Travis’s apartment for the same amount of time. Either way, Travis has no idea that he has met his match.
Despite some of the negative reviews this book has got, and despite all of the problems there are with this book, when I first started reading I really thought I was going to fall in love and find this book a guilty pleasure. I devoured the first 40% and I could put aside the little issues and the character behaviour, but from about 60% this book became painful to read. I didn’t want it to be and I really tried to get back into in, but unfortunately it lost all of my attention and all the “good” things I saw in it vanished. Nevertheless I can understand why this book has so many raving reviews, but on the other hand I can see why it is surrounded by so many negative perceptions. However, something I will say is the character behaviour, the unhealthy state of Abby and Travis’ relationship and the sex in this book really should push it out of the young-adult bracket. Seriously, why you you class such a book as young-adult when it reminds me of Fifty Shades of Grey without the bondage lifestyle.
Let’s just start with what I didn’t like. I was a few chapters in and I saw this..
I looked down to my plate, letting the long strands of my caramel hair create a curtain between us.
Oh dear. These were my thoughts “TWILIGHT REPEATED”. Thankfully, McGuire steers us away from a recreation of Twilight with Abby’s behaviour and at moments I found myself really liking Abby. Those moments were few and far between and mostly occurred at the start where she wore her cardigans and seemed nice. Later into the novel she allowed herself to be trampled upon my Travis and her father and as a female protagonist I did not appreciate the male domination that presided over her. Abby seemed to be struggling to define herself as a character and she never seemed to stay true to herself. Particularly her love for cardigans. I thought “oooh this sounds interesting” and then she seemed to forget all about her cardigans throughout the main section of the novel. Surely if McGuire puts the effort in to make it stand out in her synopsis, she should continue the theme? This was only one of the things that frustrated me about Abby. Along with her freak outs about her past and her father. It seemed overly emphasised into something really sinister and dark and when it was revealed, it was a huge let down in my eyes. Everything was a little simplistic and with these type of novels, I tend to enjoy something more complex to engage my attention and really drive the novel forwards.
Now there is Travis who I didn’t find any real redeeming point at all. He seems smart, but he doesn’t behave like it. He pushes Abby past tonnes of boundaries, forcing her to move into his apartment by a bet, moving into personal space and controlling her. Then he also lashes out with girls, drinking and fighting becoming more than a “bad boy” but somebody with an unhealthy state of mind. For me, there was no progression in Travis’ character and he had an extreme emotional balance scale that quite often left me on edge to which end he’d be at next. His possession over Abby bordered on crazed and disturbing and it really didn’t send Abby in the opposite direction when I think it should have.
Then say that you belong to me.
The relationship between Travis and Abby really annoyed me. There were forever on and off and not being able to work and being able to work and there was no real need. It became too repetitive and Abby kept pushing Travis away all the time and I wish she’d just settled down then I think I would have been able to get along with this novel more.
Another problem I had with this novel is that the scene changes were very jumpy and everything seemed very thrown together. I felt like not enough time had been spent editing and making the flow of the story seamless because I felt like I was blinking across time-frames and destinations. The trip to Vegas back and forth they were in their apartment and then there. It was really hard to adjust to.
On the other hand, this novel did grip me from the first moment. I really wanted to read on and I found myself staying up to keep reading and I felt that we had a lot to offer from the first moment with an intriguing mystery and a good direction. The plot faults were there, but with the cat and mouse act and the real energy that was delivered into the first half, I thought this book could have been a four star book with a few minor faults, but unfortunately McGuire seemed incapable of upholding the standard of the first half of this novel and I feel like much less attention had been devoted to the second.
There is very little description to the surroundings and the environment that the characters originate in, so whilst it may be set in a college, sometimes I think from describing a college room or the smells really draws you more into the novel and I think Beautiful Disaster could have really been boosted from such additions.
The novel is very much driven by it’s characters that lack real foundations and had some very big plot holes that you could jump through if you were a 30stone sumo. I wouldn’t dismiss this novel because it has so many people in love with it, but I’d say there are so many far better guilty pleasures out there to appreciate and you don’t need a book like this to use. I’d say that if you want a book like this, that’s young-adult and really could, pick up Pushing the Limits because it has been one of my favourite books of the year!
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