Genres: New Adult Romance
Published by Atria Books
Released on July 12, 2012
Hmmm! I’ve set out to put down my thoughts about this book a few different times and keep hesitating which is not like me when I finish a book. I asked to receive this book because I read so many wonderful reviews and because of the blurb on it. I’ve been hearing about the fairly new genre of New Adult and thought this would be a nice read to introduce me to it.
The story takes place on a small college (and for those who are wondering who’ve read the story already- yes, there are small colleges that can make one feel like they are living in a fish bowl where everyone knows your business because I attended one) when a bad boy falls for an apparently nice innocent girl. Her rebuffs intrigue and delight him rather than put him off so he lays out a bet that she loses in which she must (when I say ‘must’ I gotta say that I mean she is choosing to stay though she tries to convince everyone otherwise) stay with him for a month in which they both form a friendship that defies the understanding of all. Both parties, Travis and Abby, want more, but there are many complications that will and do pull them apart when they do give it a chance for more. Their relationship is what gives the book its title.
Now for my opinion- which is exactly what this is, MY opinion. I state that because there are so many others with vastly different opinions (like always- hehe). I had a love-hate thing going with this story. In fact, it took me much longer than usual to finish reading it because of how it pulled me back and forth between ‘can’t put it down to see what happens’ next to the very dangerous (and expensive because I read it on my kindle) temptation to throw it against a wall in frustration.
What aroused such feelings? This is the part that will contain spoilers just so I can explain my impressions of the story. So read on at your own risk!!!!
First of all, I love a good opposites attract/ wrong, but right for each other story. I also loved the camaraderie with all the friends in the story. I adored Travis’ family. And some of the plot conflict was riveting. But- and its a big ‘but’ because the story is entirely from this character’s point of view and she’s a main character- I hated Abby a great deal of the time. Small third world dictators could take lessons for torture of the emotional kind from her. And she was so good at it that she was able to take down several people (some multiple times) in this story. While she was busy- first being in denial that Travis loved her and she, him (in the face of everyone telling her the same thing)- and then being in full self-protection mode with the hot/cold treatment to Travis (don’t want to get hurt/I’m scared- want guy- but don’t want to get hurt again/I’m scared of my own feelings loop) and then finally in her spiteful pride phase (you screwed up though at the time you owed me nothing and I’m going to hold it against you no matter how broken and miserable I can see you are), she ripped out a guy’s heart more than once, broke up her best friend’s romance because said BFF loyally sided with her against her own boyfriend who was the cousin to Travis (broken hearted guy mentioned earlier), and toyed (not on purpose-much of the time- to be fair) with perfectly nice guys giving the impression that she was available then pulled back from them. I really struggled to buy her hang-ups particularly with all the ‘I’m the one who’s bad for him and I’ll ruin him’ even after I was given the explanation about her past dealings that led to these thoughts. I don’t normally include book comparisons, but just to help explain the Abby character here. She reminded me strongly of the Bella Swan character in New Moon and Eclipse with her dealings with Jacob (I need you, but we can never be more than friends behavior).
Now, before I appear entirely unfair and fixated about Abby, let me just say that I don’t think its wrong for Abby to take a ‘lets be friends’ approach when she first gets started out with Travis or a little later making it a ‘lets take our time’ when they enter a relationship because he is into some serious stuff- bare knuckle fighting for cash, sleeping around with a reputation (that is earned) for one night stands and having emotional issues of neediness, anger and jealousy. But, you see, her ‘lets be friends’ was her lying to herself and everyone else as evidenced by her thoughts and actions. And his emotional issues many times are a direct result of her behavior. Travis was truly a bad boy (personally, I’m not enamored with this in real life- showing my age here) and I would not have faulted her caution if it was an honest caution that was not laced with hypocrisy.
As to the other aspects of the story, (I am about to confuse you when I say that I loved it) I loved when things were going good and Travis and Abby were together and he was trying so hard to change. The deft touch of friends and lovers really struck a nice chord with me. I really enjoyed the dynamics of the double dating couples between the two cousin sets of Travis and Abby and Shep and America. Shep, America and Finch were great secondary characters. The other scenes that were touching was the two spent with Travis’ dad and brothers. I’m a huge lover of meeting the family in the story. Finally, getting into what hurt was in Abby’s past just made me feel for her. The excitement of Travis’ fights, the trip to Vegas the first time and the fire were page turning moments.
I can certainly see why this is touted as a wonderful read because it does draw an emotional response. When a book engages me with any emotion then I think the author did a pretty good job even if the book’s not for me.
So, my foray into Beautiful Disaster left me a little emotionally drained, but I can and do recommend this book to those who enjoy a good angsty read that leaves them wrung out, but satisfied in the end. I will caution this as a recommend for an impressionable teen because there is much about the relationship that is not commendable on both Travis and Abby’s parts.
Thank you to Net Galley for providing the ARC copy for review purposes.