Jul 30, 2012

Review: Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

Beautiful Disaster (Beautiful, #1)
Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire
Published: August 14 2012 by Atria Books (first published May 26th 2012)
Source: egalley from publisher via NetGalley
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Goodreads Summary: 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.

I'm torn here between giving this book one or two stars. I feel like I was tricked into reading a version of 50 Shades without the BDSM, but with an equally unhealthy, disturbing relationship and flat characters. Originally self-published, now finding a home with Atria Books (S&S), that path to publication sounds familiar. I don't really care, I stand by my support to self-published authors, but coupled with my loathing for 50 SoG, you see why I was a bit weary.

I knew nothing about the book before I downloaded it from NetGalley. The alarm sounded off when I saw some reviews around GR and the "not-to-read", "boycott", "authors behaving badly" tags. As always, I wanted to read the book first before passing judgments and review the book and the book only. And that I shall do.

In short, this book is a mess.
Beautiful Disaster, how do I review thee? You had me glued to the screen for the first 100 pages. The chemistry between Abby and Travis was so damn promising. Even when the red flags jumped up, I kept reading. "Come on, Abby. Stick to your resolution. Get the hell away from that guy." Travis is nothing (let me say that again-NOTHING) but trouble. He vents his anger issues more or less successfully in the ring, but doesn't hesitate to beat some guy to pulp outside the ring either. Worst thing? At some point, Abby starts to accept, hell, even encourage his lust for kicking in someone's face as long as he flashes the puppy eyes and plays along to her "will I-won't I" whims.
Don't know about you, but that's just twisted in my book. There are so many ways in which this book is off, but I really don't feel like revisiting it again for quotes. Once was more than enough.

I was really, really hoping that the author would drive this in the complete opposite direction than the one it ended up. I did like the book for the first half. Had it ended there, it would have been just fine. But this is a manifesto of possessive, disturbing and dysfunctional relationships. It's ok if he beats up someone because he just laid his eyes on you. It's ok if he dictates what you're wearing to avoid before mentioned incident. It's ok if he storms in in the middle of your date, packs you up and says he needs you and you leave your date with a lame "I'm sorry" twice. It's ok if he breaks in dorm doors to find you while you hide until his volatility and impulsiveness subside. Because in the end, he's so hot and you're so madly in love that you'll fly off to Vegas, get married and have your new last name tattooed on your hipbone.
The most tragic part is that there's more fact than fiction in this. A complete disaster, not only for each other but for everyone in the radius of 3 miles. And nothing beautiful about a relationship with a violent douchebag whose only purpose in life is "bagging bimbos" and drawing blood. Honestly, I was just waiting for the moment when his fist would land on Abby, and that would be more fact than fiction as well.

Before I venture into elaborations why this is so wrong (and I hope we all agree on that), let me interject and say that these two characters completely deserve each other. They both have a lot of issues to begin with. When they collide, it results in an explosive off and on relationship that made me as the observer squirm in my seat. How many times did they break up? How many times did she leave, he begged, she forgave and forgot, came back, he acted like a possessive and violent psycho, rinse and repeat? I lost count, and interest, about halfway through the book when I guessed that this would go on for 200 pages more, and I was right. The only thing that was driving me to read more was the hope for a satisfying closure. "You'll get it, Abby, won't you?" But nope. No development in that department, or any development whatsoever. They get their happy ever after and we're supposed to accept that their love has conquered all their personal demons.

And where's the damn police when he beats up two guys in the cafeteria? How come his name never came up when the fire was researched, and all the people being there to see him fight? It's like the author is deliberately avoiding reality and anything that might even remotely sound like consequences.

I really don't get the point of this book. And I don't get the wrong perception of this relationship as romantic and something to long for. This book was plain boring and tedious in the second half when all my hopes for some common sense were dispelled.

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