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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Review: Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

TITLE: Beautiful Disaster                       SERIES: Beautiful #1
AUTHOR: Jamie McGuire                     PUB DATE: 8/14/12
PUB: Simon & Schuster                     FORMAT: eARC
SOURCE: Netgalley

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


This is a long one, Cupcakes. I had A LOT to say...


THREE WORDS: No Me Gusta -__-


MY REVIEW: So, yet again it seems I was late to the drama-llama party surrounding a book (how lame am I?!). I didn't realize there was any drama or such strong feelings surrounding this book until after I got it from Netgalley and started reading it. After I finished reading this book I honestly wasn't sure if I was going to even post my review, knowing it would be a negative one. I suppose I was hesitant to get mixed up in any of the drama. But then I said to my self "Hey self, you sexy smart beast you, you took the time out of your busy schedule to read this book so you totes deserve to put your two cents out into the world. So what if your review offends someone?" Well how could I argue with me being all smarticle like that, right?!


Abby Abernathy, running from her dark and mysterious past, ends up at Eastern University with her BFF. At EU, Abby reinvents herself as the cardigan wearing good girl who avoids trouble. But uh-oh! trouble finds her in the form of super hot Travis Maddox. Travis "Mad Dog" Maddox earns money as a fighter in the underground fight club at EU and spends the rest of his time being the big man-slut on campus. The two meet and frustrating sparks fly and when Abby loses a bet against Travis and must live with him for a month, things get cray-cray (like seriously buckets of crazy!).


Ok, so you can already obviously tell that I did not like this book (and for good reason). But why? For so, so many reasons. But before I get to those, I will say that the actual writing isn't horrible, nothing mind-blowing or tattoo worthy, but not bad and the author isn't an ineffective storyteller either. I just really didn't like the story being told. The book is 361ish pages, but felt much l o n g e r. The last quarter dragged on in a way that had me asking "Isn't it over yet?!"...yeah, that's never a good thing *sigh*.


My biggest issue, and not necessarily for the reasons you may think, with Beautiful Disaster is unfortunately the most important aspect of the whole book: the relationship between Abby and Travis. Where do I start? Well, first the the actual event that brings these two together, the "bet", is incredibly contrived and unrealistically convenient. Then there's the fact that several times in the story Abby considers leaving but doesn't because she never backs out of a bet...again, this is too convenient. And Travis is oh, so conveniently in one of Abby's classes, which she just one day suddenly realizes O_o


Then there's the actual relationship these two have, from being friends to becoming lovers and more. Seperately, these two characters are each unlikable enough, but together they are a hot mess. Before dating Travis, Abby is a contradicting jumble of sweet one moment and completely bitchy the next. Her sarcastic-I don't care-I'm so tough-I can take care of myself attitude is laughable and fails to make her relatable or worth rooting for. And of course after Hurricane Travis blows into her life she transforms into One Of Those girls who makes unbelievably stupid descsions because of her BF and turns into a mere puddle of lovesick goo. 


Travis is just an absolute unbearable, eye-roll inducing, not swoon-worthy in anyway character. He treats girls like crap, has a huge ego, is terribly violent and any vulnerability or softness the author tries to give him failed to make me care about him one bit. I honestly do not understand his appeal at all. And Oh. My. Gerwd. the way EVERY single female within a ten foot radius of this guy turns into a eye-lash batting, hair flipping, flirting puppet is just absurd! I kept imagining either cats rubbing against his leg or very eager puppies humping his leg...that's seriously how absurd it got. And of course, once he fell for Abby he became scary obsessvie and abusive...


 I want to briefly discuss that word: abusive. I've seen other people argue that Travis isn't abusive because he never hits Abby, and he doesn't. But he does tell her what she can wear, who she can see, where she can go and he's manipulative and dangerously obsessive and possesive (he gets her name tattooed on him, as well as admiting that he wants other guys to know that she "belongs" to him)...that's emotional/psychological abuse. Whether he was created that way intentionally or not, doesn't make it any less true. And worse, after being with Travis for a while, Abby actually encourages his violence, prompting him to beat up another student in the cafeteria...and after just one (there are a few) brawl in the caf, you'd think Travis would be expelled, but no he never is.


Now, to avoid being accused of just not "getting" this story, let me say that I do "get" it: this is a story about two dysfunctional, emotionally scarred, kinda effed up people who fall in love and fall into an equally dysfunctional, hard, totally effed up relationship. I have no problems with effed up characters or relationships; there are plenty of screwed up, scary, broken, violent, dangerous and complex characters that I've loved and been absolutely captivated by.


My main issue is not their effed-upness; I don't dislike them as characters because of this, I dislike them because they are flat unlikable characters who have no real layers, dimension and who aren't particularly well developed. And my issue isn't even with their violtile, violent, effed-up relationship...No, my main issue is with what this relationship and these characters lack: depth, meaning, growth, poignancy or anything profound.


(I'm almost done, I swear)


A few other things I want to briefly mention are the supporting characters and all the girl-on-girl hate.


Abby's BFF, America, is another unlikable character. She's over the top dramatic, whiny and really kind of all over the place in terms of personality; one minute she's telling Abby to dump Travis, the next she's telling Abby she's a bitch for breaking his heart.


One of the supporting characters I actually liked (and who was the one sane, rational beacon of light) is Kara, Abby's dormmate. Kara has one of the only insightful and rational lines in the book: "Do you know what codependency is, Abby? Your boyfriend is a prime example, which is creepy considering he went from having no respect for women at all to thinking he needs you to breath." Yes, yes! A thousand times yes! Unfortunately, this one sane character was created to come across as an unlikable bitch, something America is always willing to point out.


Which leads me to all the girl-on-girl hate in this book, particularly done by America and Abby. These two are constantly calling soriety girls or ANY girl who flirts with or sleeps with Travis a whore, slut, stupid, vapid, bimbo, STD-infested, bitch, etc. Basically any girl other then the two of them who ever has sex, flirts or dresses sexy is obviously trash...PUH-lease! Can you say jealousy and insecurity? And of course these are issues never explored or mentioned.


I won't spoil any of the main plotpoints, but let's just say there's an unnecessary trip to Vegas, an out of nowhere fire, another trip to Vegas and a cheesy, disappointing end.


MY FINAL THOUGHTS: I don't think there's anything more I can say that I haven't already covered. Beautiful Disaster is certainly a disaster but far from beautiful. This is obvioulsy a book that will evoke strong feelings in readers, unfortunatley all my feelings are negative. (Oh, and I should mention that this book isn't technically considered YA)


MY RATING

Purchase: Amazon
Jamie McGuire was born in Tulsa, OK. She was raised by her mother Brenda in Blackwell, OK, where she graduated high school in 1997. Jamie attended the Northern Oklahoma College, the University of Central Oklahoma, and Autry Technology Center where she graduated with a degree in Radiography.
Jamie now lives in Enid, OK with her three children and husband Jeff, who is a real, live cowboy. They share their 10 acres with four horses, four dogs, and Rooster the cat.
Books published by Jamie include the Providence trilogy, and The New York Times best seller Beautiful Disaster, a contemporary romance. When she’s not writing, Jamie spends her days letting her four dogs in and out.

10 comments:

Emily said...

I've heard quite a few nasty things about this book before this review, but thanks for solidifying my decision never to read it.
It's disgusting that some people are saying that Travis and Abby's relationship isn't abusive, and I feel like a lot of that stuff slips under the radar in YA fiction. It's a serious topic, but rarely treated as one.
I'm glad that you wrote this review, it was excellent.

Jessica S. said...

I ended up getting this one via NetGalley myself, so I sort of skimmed your review to not spoil it. I heard all sorts of hype about it, but ever since people have been posting their reviews after the galley went up, it's been mostly leaning toward the negative... oh well. I'll still give it a try, since I got myself a copy. We'll see how it goes. Thanks for sharing a very honest review!

Amy said...

I am glad that I somewhat heard about the drama surrounding this book. I ALMOST requested it from NetGalley, but put it off and I'm glad I did. It doesn't sound like a book I would enjoy.

Molli @ Once Upon a Prologue said...

Whoa, this book sounds like a slap in the face to women. A guy being a LITTLE possessive is kinda hot. A guy being over-the-top-clingy-and-controlling is NOT HOT at all and is kinda scary. Plus Abby sounds like a weak, sniveling witch. Yikes. I'll definitely stay away from this one!

Randi M said...

Wow. I really wished I had read your review before requesting from NetGalley. :( Definitely sounds like the kind of book that would greatly annoy me. I agree with Molli, a little possessiveness is kinda cute; emotional abuse? Not so much. Not even something I want to READ about. Great honest review!

Randi @ Cardigans, Coffee and Bookmarks

jware said...

great review! I have been wanting to read this book for awhile and have read some really negative and some really positive reviews.Your review was very informative and done in a very positive way as to not put down the author but still give your opinion. so i liked that alot!! i am still going to read it to see what all the drama is about. :) thanks!

Lili said...

I'm a bit cautious of this book! The second I saw your no me gusta rating I laughed. it seems that everyone either loves this and gives it 5 stars or hates it and gives it 1. I'm going to be much more hesitant in picking it up now!

Sophia said...

Oh my god. *headdesk* This book sounds positively awful. I've read similar negative reviews, all saying that the relationship is super unhealthy and that Travis is completely crazy. I think I'll definitely skip out on this book. Thanks for the honest review, Aeicha!

TayteH said...

Sounds awful. Abby sounds like she has multiple personalities issues or something. Travis doesn't sound that bad, but the book does.

Tabatha IMReviews said...

I have heard both good and bad about this book. I, myself, enjoyed it! I know - that makes me one of the FEW who thought this book rocked their lives - but alas, I am one of those people.

While I did have SOME issues with it - && I can see where other people are coming from.. I just couldn't help myself lol.