Sunday, July 29, 2012

Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

Beautiful Disaster (Beautiful, #1)
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.

After seeing all the hype, I've decided to give it a try.
It seems like people either really love this book or really hate it.
I wonder which one I'll be...

Okay, I needed a while to process all of that. I can see why this book has gotten such strong reactions. Honestly, I'm a little unsure of my opinion at this point. I can see why some people were offended. But I can also see why some people loved this book.

Okay, first, let me talk about Abby. She is nice, smart, with a bad past that draws sympathy. And this girl is way more forgiving than I could ever be. Sometimes, that came out as a character flaw. But others, I thought that a forgiving person is exactly what Travis needs. He's impulsive and hot-headed and doesn't always mean what he does or says. He needs someone to be able to forgive him and put him in his place at the same time. Abby was that person. When that worked, I liked Abby.

But sometimes, it made her just seem weak-willed. Like when Travis beat up a guy right in front of her because he said something suggestive. That was not okay, but Abby treated it like it was. If I was her, I would tell Travis to find the nearest anger management class before he ended up arrested. It was moments like these that I thought Abby was a weak character. I understand that being with Travis requires a person to forgive and forget. But he also needed to be put in his place, and, though Abby claimed she was doing that, she never actually did. Unless you count leaving without a word a set down. And I don't. That just exacerbated the whole problem. It made him angry and depressed and the boy never actually knew what he did wrong, so he never actually fixed it.

 And sometimes, I just wanted to shake some sense into her. She was incredibly frustrating. I think two or three times, she vows to stay away from Travis. She storms off, stays diligently away from him, all the while pining for him, then they somehow end up together, have make up sex, and everything is just fine and dandy. WTF!?!?! Are you serious? Pick one, would you, you either love him or hate him. Stop putting everyone through hell and back with your stupid drama because you can't seem to make a decision. I have a love/hate relationship with her, just like I do with just about everything in this book. I liked her sometimes. She's nice, caring, smart. But sometimes, I literally wanted to slap some sense into her.

Before I go into the particulars about their relationship, let me just talk about Travis himself. I don't understand why he's messed up. He had problems in his past with his family, but now they're all fine, a happy, albeit dysfunctional, family. So why does he have so many issues? Abandonment issues, commitment issues, this guy would be a therapists nightmare. But why? And I really didn't appreciate his treatment of women. I honestly don't care if he likes one night stands. But what I do care about is the fact that he treated women like tools for his own pleasure before discarding them without a thought. And yet, he was never blamed for it. The girl got blamed, being called brainless sluts. But no one ever said anything about the fact that he uses and throws those girls away. They all act as if it's the girls' fault. Yes, they shouldn't have expected a relationship from a guy who is infamous for one night stands. But why is Travis' sex addiction their fault? It just didn't make sense to me. It reeked of unfairness, hypocrisy, and sexism. It reminds me of Victorian times. When a girl gets raped, society blames her for enticing the rapist and the rapist gets off free. The whole thing with Travis seemed like a watered-down version of that.

And the boy's temper. It is not okay to lose your temper and fly of the handle at a moments noticed. Travis seriously needed some anger management classes. Like, desperately needed them. And once again, when he flew into a rage, no one ever blamed him. They blamed the person that got him mad. WTF?!?!? I don't care how mad a person made him, he is at least partly to blamed for the impending chaos because he is unable to control his rage. Do you see a repeating pattern here? Travis is a flawed character, he has many deficiencies in his personality, just like everyone else. But for every flaw, his friends found someone else to blame. His sex addiction? Those sluts won't leave him alone. His temper? That asshole had it coming. And by the end, I found myself wishing these characters were real so that I could find them and shake some sense into them. Once again, I had a love/hate relationship with another character. Travis could be very sweet, and he's smart and protective of his loved ones. Yet, his boorish behavior was just ridiculous. It was not okay, and no one seemed to realize that.

Now their relationship. My goodness, I could go on and on, but, for the sake of brevity, I'll try to keep it short. Their relationship was...interesting. And by that, I mean dysfunctional. To say it was a roller coaster would be an understatement. They went forward backward, in circles, high up and down low. Okay, sometimes, I found their relationship sweet. When they were happy and in love, everything was butterflies and flowers. They were sweet and cute together. Then came the bump in the road and suddenly, the roller coaster got crazy. The amount of times they broke up and got back together is extraordinarily high, considering that their relationship spanned no more than several weeks. Honestly, I'm having a hard time putting into words how I saw their relationship, so bear with me if things start to get a little confusing. Their relationship made no sense. I swear, my head was spinning trying to keep up with their whirlwind romance. Their relationship wasn't normal. It was obsessive and a little creepy at times. Abby's roommate summed it up when she called it co-dependency. I'm not sure why no one else realized that. Abby was fine without Travis. She wanted him, but she was find without him. Travis, however, was another story. He was obsessive. He couldn't deal without Abby. He was absolutely dependent on her acceptance of him.

To be honest, they didn't actually get together until about halfway through the book. The first half was Travis obsessing over Abby and trying to sabotage her relationship with Parker. At those parts, I felt a little uncomfortable. Travis had no right to act the way he did, pulling Abby out of a car, waiting for her at the door. He was acting as a jealous boyfriend, when he wasn't even her boyfriend and he had made clear earlier that being a boyfriend wasn't in his plans. That whole jealous thing was not okay. Once again, another thing that was not okay, and yet Travis got off free while everyone else was blamed. Once again, why can't his friends every put the blame on him, where it should be? But, I digress. When they did get together, things were better, though Travis still couldn't control his jealousy. And their hasty marriage. I could call this a spoiler, but so many people have already mentioned it in various review, that I won't bother. Their marriage was strange, just like their relationship. They have only know each other for a matter of weeks. They have just gotten back together after their biggest fight. And they decide to get married. To be honest, I don't even know what to say to that. Yes, Travis was on better behavior and curbing his temper and jealousy, but marriage? I'm just going to leave it at that because I don't even know what I can say to describe my knot of feelings about their roller coaster of a relationship.

The minor characters were diverse. We had everything from best friends to gambling addict, to mob leader. I want to focus on the two best friends briefly, Shepley and America. Their relationship was like a little side story. I liked the two of them. But they were the ones I wanted to shake some sense into the most. They were the ones who never blamed Travis for anything he did, but blamed everyone else. When Travis flew into a rage because Abby left his room after they hooked up, America yelled at Abby. When a girl got upset that Travis was throwing her out without a word after they hooked up, America yelled at the girl. Shep and America really needed to open their eyes and see the reality of Travis.

The story line was fast paced. The ending was a neat tie-up. All the loose ends were dealt with.

From all that I've said, you'd think I hated the book. But I didn't. For some weird reason, I liked Beautiful Disaster. Despite the fact that I can complain about it all day, I liked it. Despite the fact that I thought Travis needed some serious mental help, I liked him. Despite the fact that I though Abby needed to grow a backbone and learn how to make a decision, I liked her. My feeling about this book are entirely love/hate. I can see why some people hated it. What they hated, I hated as well. But I can also see why some people loved it. What they loved, I loved as well.

This book has made my head spin and I have given myself a headache trying to put into words my tangled, conflicting feelings about it. Despite all my complaining, I liked this book.

So after much mental struggle and a couple of pain relievers, 5/5

Thanks to Netgalley for a copy!

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