Title: Beautiful Disaster (Beautiful ~ Book 1)
Author: Jamie McGuire
Publication Date: July 13 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Length: 527 Pages
Link to Synopsis: Goodreads
Source: Purchased (Kindle Edition)
Buy It: Amazon US / Amazon UK
My Rating: 5 Stars
Point of View: 1st Person, following Abby
You know those types of books that you find where people either love them or hate them? On those books you will find a ton of 5 star reviews, a ton of 1 star reviews and only a few in between.
This is that type of book. From my 5 star rating above you can quickly see that I am in the “I loved it camp”. Now, I do not usually use a book review to get up on my soap box but I really do feel that I need to use this platform to express my opinion about this book and these types of books and the ‘bad press’ that they get.
It is easy to tell from the book synopsis and from other reviews that this book is a love story filled with angst. It is also very clear from other reviews that it is the kind of love that is filled with high emotions, the kind of love where they need each other more than they need the air they breathe and that there is a controlling element from one or more of the characters.
Why may I ask do people even start a book where these subjects are clearly stated if they know they do not like these types of books? They end up reading half (or less) of it, saying something like “Nope, can’t read anymore...” And then they continue to review the book and give it a 1 or 2 star rating. How? Why?
I completely get that not everybody likes the same type of books. And if you start a book, finish the book and want to give an opinion on it then I will read that opinion, take it all in and then a discussion can be formed with the differing opinions. But when somebody goes out and starts a book about a subject matter that they know from the start they are not going to like (i.e. men with control issues...) I just don’t understand the logic behind this? But to actually go and put out a review and star rating on something that they never finished. Nope, I do not agree with this. Or if you read the book just because you ‘want to see how bad it really is’, why bother? Life is too short and there are too many books that you know you will enjoy out there, go read one of those.
If you go through my past reviews you will see I tend to give a lot of 4 and 5 star reviews, it is very rare that I will give a 3 and I honestly do not believe I have ever given a 2 or 1. This in no way means that I am a soft reviewer. I tend to only read books on subject matters and in genres that I know I am going to enjoy; therefore the book would need to be truly awful for me to not like it enough to give it at least a 3 star rating. I would never start a book on a subject or in a genre I did not like, going in knowing that I wouldn’t like it, not finish it and then give a low star rating.
I do feel bad that this review has had to start with such a long rant but I just feel I owe it to this book and other books like it, to press to the point about the negative reviews out there. There has also been a lot of talk about the author lashing out about the negative reviews. I will not be giving my opinion about that as I am here to review the book, not the author.
Now, with that out of the way let us get on with the awesomeness that is Beautiful Disaster.
Beautiful Disaster follows Abby (aka Pigeon) and Travis (aka Travis ‘Mad Dog’ Maddox’). As mentioned above the book is filled with angst, an all consuming love that goes up and down like a roller coaster... it is wonderful and you will enjoy the bumpy ride.
In the synopsis this is how Abby is described, “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.” I really think this synopsis needs to be updated. To me this does not describe Abby at all. I never got the impression that she didn’t drink. In fact she makes a point to show on several occasions that she can down ‘em with the best of them. And swearing? There is swearing but I never noticed that she wasn’t doing any of the swearing so it is not exactly focused on her not doing it. It is not like she is always scolding Travis or her friends when they swear. What is clear is that Abby has gone away to college to get away from something in her past. At first I got the impression that it was just an old boyfriend, somebody she dated for a long time, he wanted to stay in Kansas she wanted to move on... But soon you realize it is much more than that. Her past is messy, filled with gambling, family issues, debts and the mob... you can understand why she wanted to get away and to create a new identity for herself. Then enters Travis into her life...
In the synopsis this is how Travis is described, “Travis Maddox, lean, cut, and covered in tattoos.” This is spot on! On the outside he appears to be the bad boy, is involved in underground fighting, smokes, drinks and is a serial womanizer. However, it does not take long at all to find out that he is also kind, part of a fraternity, is very intelligent and studying criminal justice. His mother died when he was very young and it was him, his father and his three brothers. That is a lot of testosterone and it is how he learned to fight from growing up with them all. Because of the lack of a mother figure growing up, I feel this is why he has no problem with having sex with a woman and kicking her out of his apartment soon after. He doesn’t get phone numbers, he doesn’t let a girl into his bedroom (the above will normally take place on the living room couch) and he is not ashamed of this at all. Then enters Abby into his life...
Travis’ cousin, Shepley, is dating Abby’s best friend America. Once they meet it is obvious that they like each other but because of Travis’ reputation Abby is obviously guarded around him and the whole 'bad boy' thing is exactly what she does not want to get into. Rather than push his luck he decides to try to be friends. Abby is different from the other girls and challenges Travis, she doesn’t bat her eyelashes or twirl her hair to get his attention. He wants to be close to her so if that means becoming her friend, something that he has never done before, then that is what he sets out to do. Abby and America decide to stay with Travis and Shepley when the hot water boiler at their dorm breaks down. Abby is under the impression that she will be in the living room or that Travis will be. But she soon finds out that he has every intention of them sharing his bed... only as friends though. He helps her study, they start spending more time together outside of school, and she starts defending him around the school when she hears others talking badly about him. The stay was only meant to be for about a week but because of a sly little bet between Travis and Abby it turns into a month. Then enters Douchebag into both of their lives...
Douchebag (aka Parker) is a love interest for Abby. He is part of Travis’ fraternity, good looking, rich, planning on going to Harvard, drives within the speed limit and obeys all traffic laws... and is boring as heck. *snore* Travis calls him Douchebag and it just stuck with me. Even when I saw his real name on the page I found myself saying Douchebag, it just fits perfectly.
Travis is overprotective and very jealous. It is apparent he has a temper but he never lashes out at Abby. Yes he has no problem with throwing a punch or pushing the guys that come around Abby while they are out but again I was never in fear that his anger would turn on Abby. He tries to allow her the space to date Douchebag but it doesn’t last long. To Travis’ credit it is made more difficult because Abby does play him. She gets closer and closer to Travis and for whatever reason refuses to see that he cares for her more than she could ever understand. The she forces herself to try to fall for Douchebag knowing that it is not who she wants to be with. Travis and Abby are together, they are apart, they are together, they are apart... It is like a giant tug of war with your emotions but again you will find that you love every moment of it... even when you are screaming at your book or Kindle.
There are moments in the book where I wanted to smack them both, there were moments in the book where I threw my Kindle in my side drawer refusing to read anymore... then only five minutes later get it back out to keep reading. I laughed (a lot), I cried, I smiled... Last night when it was time for bed I was at 82% and there was no way I could stop. I finally finished and realized it was 3:00am and had to be up at 8:00am for work, I regret nothing!
This has to be one of the longest reviews I have ever written but I feel very passionate about this book and I in a way take offence to the negative reviews that are out there from people that either didn’t finish the book or started reading it knowing they would not like it to begin with. This just doesn’t seem fair at all to the author or the work they have put out.
In wrapping up... let us be honest, Travis is messed up in his own way and Abby is messed up in her own way. There could never have been a more fitting title for a book because together their relationship is a Beautiful Disaster and it works for them.
“You’re trying to save him, and he’s hoping you can. You two are a disaster.”
I smiled at the ceiling.
“It doesn’t matter what or why it is. When it's good, Kara…it’s beautiful.”
Side note: It has been confirmed that Jamie McGuire will be publishing Walking Disaster (another perfect title) next year. This will be Beautiful Disaster written from Travis' point of view. Yes.. I did just audibly sigh. I can not wait for this and I will be on countdown to April 16th, 2013.