Monday, February 6, 2012

Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

Title: The Beautiful Disaster
Author: Jamie McGuire
Publisher: self-published
My copy: Purchased for Kindle
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 America, 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 charming college co-ed. Intrigued by Abby’s resistance to his charms, 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’ apartment for the same amount of time. Either way, Travis has no idea that he has met his match.
(Summary from author's website)

My Thoughts:
Beautiful Disaster may be the title of the book but it also heavily reflects the content. Between the covers, the reader finds a mish-mash of everything wonderful and bad thrown in to one novel, providing an end result of disappointment.

The first half of Beautiful Disaster is wonderful. It is fast-paced, intriguing, and everything else that a superb novel should be. The reader is introduced to a cast of characters that are both complex and lovable while keeping the reader curious about their motives in relationships. The relationship between Travis and Abby is, at first, what keeps the novel from becoming just another one of "those" books where the girl meets the bad boy and forgets any standards that she ever had. The fact that Abby is able to keep her standards and stand up for herself for the majority of the novel may be one of the best things about it. Another thing that makes Beautiful Disaster good is the unique setting - The Circle at Eastern University, where secret fights happen. This certainly adds intrigue and tension to the overall novel.

Unfortunately, despite all of the great things about the novel, there are also a lot of bad things. After the half-way mark in the novel, the entire thing goes downhill. The plot is rushed, actions taken by certain characters are abrupt and unjustified, and anything negative in the first half is magnified.

The first thing that falls apart is the relationship between Abby and Travis. Throughout the first half of the novel, their relationship is unique and it makes sense. Abby does not let him get away with anything and she stands up for herself. However, at this point in the novel she seems to lose all self-respect and begins to do anything he says. Even more disturbing than their relationship, however, is Travis himself. He is an angry boy with drinking problems and often resorts to violence and lies. At some points in the novel, the fact this is bad is clearly obvious but in the end, the general message that violence and lying are okay in a relationship is sent to the reader.

While there is a fantastic cast of supporting characters, including Abby's best friends and Travis' brothers, none of them are fully developed. The reader sees enough of them to be curious about them but the desire to know more is never fully fulfilled, particulars in the area of Travis' brothers. At times the actions are of the supporting characters are questionable, especially those of Shepley's.

The final quarter of the novel is rushed and very abrupt, leaving the reader going "wait, what?" and does not seem to fit the quality of the rest of the novel, leaving the reader disappointed.

Beautiful Disaster could have easily been one of the best books out there, had more time been taken to explain, develop, and resolve. Unfortunately, it fell short of expectations due to lack of development and erratic behavior from the characters. A possible sequel is in the works and the good parts of the novel may intrigue a reader enough to pick up a copy upon release.


Kelsey said...

Honest review. Thanks for the insight. I actually hadn't heard of this one, but it sounds like it still might be worth a try ;)

John The Bookworm said...

I have been so on the fence with this in my attempt to read more self-published YA. I think you've intrigued me enough to try it out, but I feel that going in now I'll know about enough of the book's problems to be prepared.

Still, it's an interesting thing, really, to try and chronicle a really messed up relationship like that and make it work. Loved your review. :3