Wendy's Reviews > Beautiful Disaster

Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire
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Feb 14, 12

bookshelves: young-adult
Read in February, 2012

THE GOOD:

The characters were very real. It's refreshing to read characters who aren't perfect. Abby and Travis have some very real and very serious flaws and issues to overcome.

The story totally sucked me in. For about a day and a half, Beautiful Disaster was all-consuming. I could barely put it down. For this reason, I wanted to give it five stars.

I would add more to this category (and more stars to my review) if I had written this halfway through the book, but I find myself pulled toward the next category of my review.

THE BAD:

As much as I hate to compare books to others on the market, I have to point out a few similarities to another popular book (Twilight). First, I couldn't help but notice that there was a lack of an actual plot. The first half of the story simply told us about their growing friendship/relationship/whatever. Then, all of a sudden, there's a problem to solve, and a glimmer of an actual plot beginning to develop. But just as quickly, it's solved, and the story goes back to the relationship/friendship/whatever. I'm not saying that every story needs to have a grand mission or quest to be complete, but I remember learning in GRADE school that every story should have an introduction, a plot buildup, a climax, and a conclusion. I feel like I missed some of that in Beautiful Disaster.

I kept wanting to smack Abby for being so indecisive. "I like him. I hate him. I'm jealous of the other girls. I think he can do whatever he wants. I want him. I'm leaving him. I'm jealous again. I want him again. I'm leaving again. I love him. I hate him again." And Travis wasn't much better. He goes completely crazy one minute, and then he's totally back to normal the next, just because she forgives him/comes back. I get that relationships are complicated, but some of these indecisions could have easily been cut, and the story wouldn't have suffered for their absence.

The graphic sex and swearing that permeated the story had me feeling like this story shouldn't really have been categorized as a YA novel. Granted the characters in this story are in college, so we're not dealing with fifteen-year-olds, but if this was a movie, it would be rated somewhere between R and NC-17. I would NOT feel comfortable with my teenager reading this someday.

This knocked my rating down to 3.5-4 stars.

THE UGLY:

Okay, since when have possessiveness, blinding jealousy, rage, and uncontrollable violence become admirable traits in our YA heroes? Travis goes completely crazy SEVERAL times throughout this story, and Abby is (usually) the only one who can calm him down (since it's usually BECAUSE of her that he went crazy to begin with). He completely trashes his apartment and practically stalks her until she agrees to talk to him. He tricks her into staying with him in the very beginning (on the book jacket, so no spoiler here), and basically plays mind games with her for the duration of the stay.

I get that he's supposed to be the bad boy who goes through a transformation because of our heroine, but Travis is seriously a BAD BOY. It's one thing to be a fighter in an organized (and certainly illegal) fighting ring, but when the fighting blends into his everyday life and he starts pummeling a guy in the cafeteria because he makes a rude comment or beating up guys who flirt with "his girl" at a club, it borders on homicidal. You would think he would know that, being a criminal justice major! And given Abby's past and the reservations she shares with us throughout the story, you'd think that she'd know better than to encourage him to "teach him a lesson."

I've never been a big fan of overwhelming possessiveness in fiction, and when that possessiveness is combined with violent tendencies, it is a recipe for complete and utter disaster. With all of the reservations Abby has about Travis leading her back to the past she was trying to escape, shouldn't it at least ONCE cross her mind that his violence could eventually turn toward her? He's already proven that he has a hard time thinking straight where she is concerned, so what happens the day he sees her smile at another guy -- no matter how innocently -- and he immediately jumps to the wrong conclusion? There's a reason this story isn't a series.

I really wanted to like Travis. I did. I enjoyed seeing his transformation from man-whore to one-woman-guy, but he took it WAY too far. I am seriously afraid for the young girls of today who read stories like this and think that this is an example of a good and decent guy. ***BRIEF SPOILER*** After both getting drunk at a party, Travis throws Abby over his shoulder and takes her -- literally kicking and screaming -- back to his apartment, where he practically rapes her. Granted, she gave in and was fine with it in the morning, but it still wasn't consensual at first. What ideas are we giving the youth of America, telling them that it's okay to force yourself on your on-again-off-again girlfriend because she may change her mind right before you do the deed and forgive you later. NOT OKAY. ***END SPOILER***

After finishing the last page, I was forced to knock my rating down another star or two. I'm actually a little ashamed at myself for being so addicted to it at the beginning.
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