Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Here's the marketing copy:
The new Abby Abernathy is a good girl. She doesn’t drink or
swear, and she has the appropriate number of cardigans in her wardrobe. Abby
believes she has enough distance from 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.
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.
This was a review copy. The book is set to be published August 14th by Simon & Schuster imprint Atria. It has also apparently been optioned by Warner Bros.
If you liked Edward Cullen's obsessive side, then you will probably enjoy this book. If you want more info, read on.
This is not a YA book, but it reads like one. That's not an insult, I love a lot of YA books, I mean it's quite angsty. Although the characters are over 18 and drink, swear (quite a lot), fight (graphically) and have sex (a substantial amount), the themes and tone are very similar to a lot of YA books.
And seriously, do they only teach mitosis in Biology classes in the US?
Anyway, about the story. Abby Abernathy and her best friend America have moved from Kansas to Eastern University to give Abby a fresh start and help her escape her as yet unspecified tortured past. She is playing the part of prim, innocent college freshman when America drags her along to watch her boyfriend Shepley's cousin, Travis 'Mad Dog' Maddox fight in what's known as the Circle, an underground, bare-fisted, no rules fight in random basements of the College.
More after the jump...
Inevitably, Abby and Travis are drawn to each other but they fight the attraction, Travis believing he's not good enough for Abby and Abby worried that he's everything she's trying to escape from. When the boilers go out in their dorm, Abby and America arrange to stay at Shipley and Travis's apartment for a few days. At Travis's next fight, Abby bets him that if he gets hit he will have to go without sex for a month. He bets her that if he doesn't get hit she has to move into the apartment with him for a month.
What follows is high melodrama. Their will they/won't they, on again/off again relationship takes up the remainder of the book. It becomes clear that Abby and Travis love each other but neither will admit it to the other. When they do admit it the relationship is dysfunctional and co-dependent. Psychologists would have a field day with this pair.
I read the book in about 8 hours and it kept me turning pages. I found myself smiling in parts and tearing up in others and I did like the characters despite myself. I didn't really want to, but I did.
There were parts of the story I didn't enjoy. Abby had no qualms about the fact that Travis essentially puts people in the hospital for a living in illegal fights, but his womanising and one night stands are frowned upon. Travis was brutalised by his father and brothers growing up, but now their relationship is completely fine. Finch, the gay friend is two dimensional at best and used only as a plot device. He is conveniently forgotten when not needed. Travis displays some seriously disturbing behaviours. He displays classic signs of being emotionally abusive Abby moderates her behaviour when around other boys so that he doesn't get too jealous or beat them to a pulp.
I wouldn't rush out to buy more books by this author but, if you can get past the emotionally abusive relationship, as a non-demanding holiday read it does the job.