Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire Book Review
Wednesday, September 19, 2012 8:00 AM
Author: Jamie McGuire
Published: May 26, 2011
Publisher: Jamie McGuire
Series: Beautiful #1
Genre: New Adult Contemporary, Romance
Rating: 3 stars
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“It's dangerous to need someone that much. You're trying to save him and he's hoping you can. You two are a disaster." I smiled at the ceiling. "It doesn't matter what or why it is. When it's good, Kara... it's beautiful.”
― Jamie McGuire, Beautiful Disaster
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. (Goodreads)
Beautiful Disaster rendered me speechless. No lie. When I finished, I sat there, mouth hanging open, and completely at a loss for words. I simply could not believe I had read a book with an average premise, characters that I should despise, and a plot that was an emotional roller coaster and still didn't utterly despise it. I devoured this book; I might as well have inhaled the pages, as I flew through them so fast. I wouldn't call Beautiful Disaster a spectacular read, or consider it mind-blowing in the slightest, but it was certainly entertaining.
To preface my review, Beautiful Disaster has been receiving its fair share of negative reviews attacking the author and the book. But people must realize that there are going to be times when you don't like main characters or how they behave. Abby and Travis are both messed up, which is understandable considering their pasts, and that makes them such a perfect match because they both have issues and are the only ones who can probably put up with each other. By creating these characters, McGuire is not implying that she condones their behavior. Just like an author who writes a book with a murderer or rapist isn't supporting their behavior (an extreme comparison, I know). The director of Dexter isn't saying serial killers are acceptable. The same goes for Beautiful Disaster. Travis and Abby are two screwed up individuals that somehow find an unsteady love and try to hold onto it despite their faults. The accusations against the book and author are ridiculous. If you don't like the book, that's perfectly alright. Everybody has their different interests. But please don't call the book or author anti-feminist or woman-hating just because it reveals a darker reality. In the case of Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff was far from a wonderful person towards Cathy and vice versa. Does the book display wrong, unhealthy behavior? Sure. So does The Bell Jar and a hundred other classics. Don't even get me started with Lolita (loved it but it disturbed me greatly).
As for the author attacking reviewers and tweeting about their one star reviews, I have nothing to say on that. I'm reviewing the book, not the author.
Alright, I got off track. Enough defending the book and author and on with the review. I found Beautiful Disaster to be both painful and lovely. It had such a tragic beauty to it. I love books with dysfunctional, complex characters, and Travis's and Abby's relationship was, well, a beautiful disaster (hence the appropriate title). Both of them made stupid decisions, and I didn't love them all of the time, but I became invested in their relationship, hoping they could finally reach some happy balance. It's like watching a car crash, not being able to tear your eyes away, because Travis and Abby have far from a perfect relationship. There are many devastating moments, but there are also touching, heart-warming scenes that moved me.
I think the plot synopsis for Beautiful Disaster is a bit misleading because I wouldn't necessarily call Abby a "good girl". She loves to drink at clubs and parties. She's not a wild woman, but she can put them down. I couldn't help but like her despite how she leads on both Travis and Parker (oh poor Parker) and has trouble accepting her feelings for Travis. I liked how she wasn't the stereotypical, dorky girl, who doesn't know she's gorgeous and is corrupted by the bad boy. As for Travis, I think most people expect him to be more abusive than he actually is. He never physically abuses Abby, although he's not squeamish about throwing punches when it comes to men that approach her or insult her. He's never verbally abusive either (at least to Abby). Yes, he has jealousy issues and is extremely overprotective. And he treated other girls, besides Abby and America, like crap. Did I support that? Of course not. But he isn't the monstrous boyfriend I was expecting. Though he certainly isn't perfect.
I loved that Beautiful Disaster took place in a college setting unlike the usual high school scene. For the most part, I'm not a fan of books that take place in high school because I don't want to read about high school drama. I had enough of that when I went to school. Of course, college has its own drama, but I like having the main characters older. With college students, you don't have to deal with the parental supervision and the characters constantly fearing that they'll be grounded because they snuck out late to see their vampire boyfriend or whatever they do in the YA book you're reading. The college scene was very realistic, especially the parties, and I found myself loving all the characters, especially Shepley and America. While the frat brothers and football players acted like jerks at times, they had their nice moments and were very amusing.
While Beautiful Disaster had me hooked from the beginning, I must admit that I found the storyline to be a tadbit predictable, as it's a story I've seen unravel many a time. It's an overused plot line, one I am all too familiar with where the "player" suddenly changes his ways in order to catch the one girl that can "fix" him. It may not have been unique, but somehow, I still enjoyed it. There were no unexpected twists or surprises, and I wasn't blown out of the water, but I still couldn't put it down. It's a fast-paced, addictive read that has you flying through the pages despite its unoriginality.
My main complaint with Beautiful Disaster is that it was hard for me to completely buy Travis's shift from one night stands to full commitment. Yes, many girls want to be the "exception," the one who tames the bad boy and makes him commit, but we all know it's unlikely to happen. Abby was actually Travis's exception because after he met her, no other girl mattered. Travis did a complete 180 in such a short amount of time. He turned into this clingy, love-stricken guy who buys a girl a puppy for her birthday. While I loved that he changed and transformed into the guy Abby was looking for, I wasn't completely convinced. He did have some flaws still and some definite anger issues (not directed towards Abby), but he turned out to be a devoted boyfriend after being a hook up guy for so long, which is entirely unrealistic. Oh, and I also wasn't a fan of some of the names. Just me being nitpicky, but seriously Brazil and America? Where's Germany, Australia, and Cuba?
This was a long review, but I had to express my feelings about this book fully. I hate that people are having to defend their love for certain books. I enjoyed it, and I'm still not entirely sure why. I don't think this should be a series, and I'm upset this is not a standalone as I initially thought. The ending had closure for me. Walking Disaster, expected on April 16, 2013, will tell the events of Beautiful Disaster from Travis's POV. I'm not a big fan of books that are essentially the same story told from a different POV, and I have to admit this seems rather pointless. I doubt I'll read it, but it may be a series to consider if you like reading a story told from multiple POVs.