Title: Beautiful Disaster (Beautiful #1)
Author: Jamie McGuire
Publisher: Atria Books
This book is sneaky. It has a cover that’s pretty enough but nothing special; a synopsis that again sounds average. Ratings are for the most part split down the middle: one and two stars versus five stars. All of this had me convinced I wouldn’t like it very much. And what did this book do? Sneer at my lack of faith and shove its brilliance in my face. So before I go any further - Beautiful Disaster, you have my sincerest apologies.
What’s strange for me is that I can see exactly where people would criticise this book. I can see where, in normal circumstances, I would have criticised it – the plot, the characters, the relationship. These were the exact same problems I had with Fifty Shades of Grey. I’m not even talking about the disturbing elements of it, I just mean the huge flaws in the characters, the unhealthiness of the relationship, the way they always came back to each other despite events and intentions. Yet something about Beautiful Disaster kept me turning the pages, had me smiling and laughing and being so thankful I’d bought this book.
A lot of it centres on the relationship between Abby and Travis. Travis is known for his one-night stands, so the consistent familiarity between him and Abby is unprecedented. Abby herself begins resistant to his charms, but after a while she can’t help but accept their friendship. The bet they make at one of Travis’ fights seals her fate: she’s stuck at his apartment for a month and they inevitably grow closer. I have to say, the way they acted towards each other and the scenes where they were getting ready for bed just constantly made me think they were acting like an old married couple (add in the puppy and the family is complete). They were either at each other’s throats or blissfully happy. When it was bad, boy was it bad. But when it was good...you see where this is going. Their relationship was completely all over the place and it would always impact everyone else. It wasn’t particularly healthy, but endearing all the same.
Abby wasn’t the girl I was expecting to meet. The description isn’t entirely accurate because it paints the image of a good girl, but in actuality she doesn’t have many of the traits you’d associate with such a person. I liked Abby for her initial resistance to Travis in comparison to the flirting of almost every other girl that approached him. She did have some measure of strength. When she says she’s going to walk away, she does actually walk away, and I felt sorry for her when I learned the truth about her dad. There were, however, some choices she made that weren’t exactly wise, particularly for someone so young and supposed to be studying, and the thing she had going on with Parker (it wasn’t what I’d call a true relationship) was stupid and pointless.
Travis...Travis. What can I say? I think I fell for him pretty quickly. Everything about him, from the tattoos, to his lack of commitment, to his possessiveness, are not things I exactly appreciate...yet the picture in my head and the way he came across completely got to me. And the thing about Travis is that he changes. Yes, his dependence on Abby is unhealthy (again with that word!), but she makes him into someone who cares and has respect for a girl; she turns him into a complete softie, at least as far as she’s concerned. He is very over-protective, but he learns to give Abby her space and restrain himself (at times) from acting irrationally. He can be really sweet. He...ugh. I just cannot explain how much I love Travis, despite all his ridiculous, fatal flaws. I loved meeting his family – from his description of his childhood I didn’t think I’d like them, but then we see that they changed and so the family we meet are close, warm and welcoming.
There is more to the plot than just the journey of Abby and Travis, but I will admit not much. There’s the truth about Abby’s relationship with her father, but that doesn’t come until late in the book, plus something else that comes even later. It can be quite repetitive – up, down, love, hate, argue, make up. I honestly don’t understand how the author made me fall in love with this book, because all of the flaws in here are ones I usually take issue with. But love it I did and honestly? I’m looking at the book right now and thinking I need to re-read it. I need to get back into that crazy world. I think I will be very soon.
Beautiful Disaster is not for everyone. It’s so obviously good and so obviously bad at the same time. If you do decide to take that step and go for it, I hope you enjoy it. If you decide to give it a miss, that’s definitely understandable. Myself, I read this out of curiosity and was lucky enough to fall in love. And that’s all I can ask for.