Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire, published August 2012 by Simon & Schuster.
Read: April 2014
Genre: New Adult/Contemporary/Romance
Synopsis: Intense. Dangerous. Addictive.
Abby Abernathy is a good girl. She doesn’t drink or swear, and she has the appropriate number of cardigans in her wardrobe. Abby believes she has enough distance from 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 wants—and needs—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.
OK, so usually I post reviews soon after reading the book, but with Beautiful Disaster I’d seen quite a few negative reviews on blogs I follow. This put me off posting a full review; I was going to let my love for this book fade gently into the background and possibly question my sanity. Then, I spotted loads of positive reviews – cue relief and thoughts of, “I’m not alone in my appreciation! Yay!” I should really be used to this – I’ve accepted the fact I’m possibly the only person who appreciated 50 Shades of Grey on the entire Internet. So, on to the review:
I love this cover. I was immediately drawn to it and the Kelly Clarkson song below played in my head the minute I saw it and read the description. After reading the book, this song is an even better fit than I thought.
It was intense – full of drama and action. Yes – some parts of it were just a tad far-fetched *sarcasm*, but I have to sit up and pay attention to any book that has me angry, anxious, swooning, incredulous (ohhhh yes), laughing, swooning, annoyed, sad, emotional, swooning… I think you get the drift… I don’t know if I can accurately put all of my thoughts about this book into succinct little sentences for this blog. I’d need a couple of hours of your time, a few glasses of something alcoholic and for you to be willing to have a 3 hour in-depth discussion on dysfunctional relationships, stories about absolute unadulterated passion and “marmite” (love them or hate them) characterisation *sigh*. I’ll give it a shot.
First of all, I just need to throw this out there – I had opinions on the characters’ names in this book. I struggled with America and Shep, but somehow loved Travis “Mad Dog” Maddox. Says it all really.
Our lead female, Abby, is smart and sassy, we eventually learn that her childhood plays a major role in why she’s so street smart, but that doesn’t explain why she’s not so quick at catching on to the fact that Travis likes her. I get why she tries to steer clear of Travis given her past, but seriously, she does go on a bit and muck him about for a while.
Our lead male, Travis, initially comes across as the stereo-typical charming wise-guy, and he makes some major mistakes along the way (obsessive/scary behaviour alert!), but by the end of the book, especially when he starts to open up and reveal more of his persona, he becomes pretty easy to fall for. As much as I struggled with the names of our supporting duo, I actually really liked them as characters – the friendships in this book were very strong, and the relationship between America and Shep was more… “normal” in the story.
I’m sure I say this all the time, but I love “issues” books, and to me Beautiful Disaster falls nicely into that category. McGuire does a great job of including enough detail on our characters’ pasts, both to set the scene and to develop the story. Armed with this information we can better understand this complex and often dysfunctional relationship. Without this psychological rationale the book wouldn’t have been as good, as it provides a framework to help us understand and reason the relationship between two passionate and head-strong leads.
I thought the book was really cinematic, I love books where you can literally see the (completely made-up) movie or TV version in your mind while you’re reading it. Of course, I can understand why some people would dislike this book – depending on your understanding and view point, it can appear to have elements of a male-dominated relationship with control issues, (and can I just add that equally Abby’s behaviour would have been enough to drive me insane), but I took it in the context of the characters’ life experiences. Basically, those elements of the book didn’t annoy me at all as much as they did some people.
“And to girls that break your heart,” he bowed his head to me. His eyes lost focus. “And to the fucking absolute horror of losing your best friend because you were stupid enough to fall in love with her.”
“I was his exception and as much as I had tried to fight my feelings, he was mine.”
Abby: “Let me guess, it’s the love of your life?” Travis: “No, it’s a car. The love of my life will be a woman with my last name.”
I couldn’t put this book down. The build-up. The tension. The drama. The feels. Argh, it was so good! This book is such a guilty pleasure of mine. Being the die-hard romantic that I am I love these over-the-top novels that have ridiculously melodramatic declarations of love. There is a second book called Walking Disaster (which just arrived in the post today!) that is the same story told from Travis’ perspective, which I think will be really interesting to read. Really looking forward to it once I’ve read a couple of review books I’m on a deadline for, and reread the entire Mortal Instruments series…