Sunday, February 17, 2013

Review: Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

Beautiful Disaster
by Jamie McGuire

Available as: paperback, Kindle edition, ebook, audiobook
Pages: 416
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication date: August 14, 2012
Suggested tags: new adult, romance, contemporary

First in the Beautiful series. From Goodreads:
"The new 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 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 received this as an ebook from NetGalley. }

On one hand, Beautiful Disaster is a story that will wrap you up in it and keep you reading steadily. So it gets points there. But on the other hand, there were quite a few moments that made me stop reading completely and go, "...Really? That just happened?" And not in a good way.

If you're a reader in the older young adult/new adult/adult category and are into bad guy/good girl romances, you may really like Beautiful Disaster. It's the standard "I'm so hot and dangerous and I say I don't want a relationship, but deep down I'm really looking for that one special girl to come and love me and save me and fix all my shortcomings"/"I'm so sweet and naive but I'm so attracted to this guy who is everything I shouldn't want, but I'm going to go for it anyway because I know he needs me" story.

And all that is ok. The parts that made me uncomfortable were the parts where Abby puts up with all of Travis's "red flags." She acknowledges all of Travis's disturbing characteristics (things which should make any girl at least think twice about, if not make her ditch immediately), but she just keeps on putting herself right back in his arms. And she has thoughts of her own that make it pretty clear that she either isn't ready for a relationship, or she doesn't really have a lot of confidence in or respect for herself. There were plenty of these instances in the book, but here are the ones that I highlighted as the reddest flags...

Abby, to Travis: " 'You hit that guy because you were pissed at me! What should that tell me? Because red flags are going up all over the place right now!' "
Hey Abby, you see the red flags too! That's your subconscious trying to tell you about a serious warning sign: Travis lashes out physically whenever he gets angry. Get out while you can.

Abby, to herself: "All along I believed that I was important to Travis, that he needed me. But in that moment, I felt like the shiny new toy Parker said I was. He wanted to prove to Parker that I was still his. His. 'I'm nobody's,' I said to the empty room. As the words sunk in, I was overwhelmed with the grief I'd felt from the night before. I belonged to no one. I'd never felt so alone in my life."
Oh, Abby. In one breath you acknowledge that Travis is treating you like a piece of meat, using you to prove his dominance. And then in the next you lament over the fact that you don't belong to anyone. Well, good. You shouldn't belong to any man. If you find a good guy, the two of you should belong to each other, if anything.

Travis, to Abby: " 'I was a little drunk, and I followed you around the party like some f---ing stalker, and then I dragged you out of there, against your will...and then we...' he shook his head, clearly disgusted with the memories playing in his mind."
Well, good!! You should be disgusted, Travis! You stalked a girl, took her somewhere against her will, and then had sex with her. And how does Abby finish his statement?
Abby: " 'Had the best sex of my life?' I smiled, squeezing his hand."
NO, ABBY, NO. Do not encourage this. This is not good. Guys stalking you and physically taking you somewhere against your will is NOT OK.

For these and many other reasons, I just couldn't like this book, no matter how good the dialogue was or how readable the story was. While I was reading, all I could think of is the younger girls who might be reading this book also, girls who are still forming ideas about what is appropriate for love and relationships and sex, and as they read they start to think that this must be what a real relationship should be like. And that really upsets me. Now I know Beautiful Disaster is in the new adult genre, so really, younger girls shouldn't be reading this book. And obviously a new adult author shouldn't be expected to write things that are appropriate for younger audiences. The issue about younger girls reading is really just a personal thing on my part. (I had the same issue with the Twilight books.) But ignoring that, I still can't give this book a good rating because of the fact that all these disturbing actions and thoughts and situations are portrayed as acceptable, when really they are not. At all.

Overall rating: 2 out of 5 stars

1 comment:

  1. Great review! i feel the eact same way. Very love hate when it comes to this book.