I never had any intentions of reading this book. I have heard a lot of horrible things about it and it’s author’s behavior towards reviewers. However, the book has been getting some good press and it’s recently been bought by a publishing house and has been optioned.
General Summary: So Abby goes one night to this fight club with her friend America and she meets this guy who randomly calls her Pigeon and they get together. And, well, it’s sort of complicated which is what the rest of the book is about.
A lot of my friends like this book. And I guess I can sort of see why. If you don’t do a deep analysis of this book or haven’t been around a lot of abusive relationships it might not bother you as much as it bothers me. It might simply read about a bad boy falling in love with a good girl. But unfortunately, I’m the type who over analyzes everything (blame my ISTJ personality ). So I couldn’t look past certain issues with this book.
I think I’ll start off with talking about the writing itself. I don’t read a lot of self pub stuff. It’s not because I don’t like self pub work. Rather, I don’ t want to shift through all the various vanity publications out there to find the few good gems that exist in the self pub world (and believe me there are quite a few good indy novels out there). It also doesn’t help I don’t have a traditional e-reader and don’t plan to get one in the very near future as well. Beautiful Disaster was first published as a self pub novel. It recently got acquired by a publishing house and is being pitched as a Fifty Shades of Gray for the YA sect (note: the novel is still being published as an adult novel though, despite the marketing). Hence, why I’m reading and reviewing this novel. The copy I was given to review is from Net Galley and is the self pub version. Things might have changed since the novel has been sold to a larger house. And honestly, from what I could see this book needed some heavy editing.
The writing while simplistic was perhaps maybe a little too simplistic. At times I thought as if I was reading a fan fiction because of how unsophisticated the writing was. McGuire likes to use lots of dialogue. Which is fine. I like writing dialogue too. But there was little to no exposition within the book. I was confused very early on in the novel because most of the first twenty pages or so is dialogue. I didn’t really understand what was going on. And without any exposition, I felt like I couldn’t connect with the characters. For that matter, the dialogue often felt fake. There were several times I was rolling my eyes at how unrealistic it felt. McGuire likes to info dump and use lots of slang. These two things, I think were why a lot of the conversations felt so fake.
It didn’t help matters that the plot and pacing of the book felt fake as well. In a typical novel you’ll have your exposition, rising action, climax, and resolution. Beautiful Disaster didn’t really have an overall plot except for the romance between Abby and Travis. And I didn’t really see an overall plot line for them. Other than them going in the same relationship cycle over and over again. Now I know that most people are going to say that relationships really don’t really follow a traditional plot line. But I have read lots of romances and each of them follow the traditional novel to a degree. For example, in my favorite romance novel, Paradise by Judith McNaught, McNaught introduces us to the characters, conflict then builds throughout the book to keep them apart, an event then happens forcing the two characters back together, and then things get resolved. This wasn’t the case in McGuire’s book. We just had Abby and Travis going through the motions with plot points being thrown out there just to add conflict. Then once the conflict was built, the plot disappeared. For example, Abby and Travis’s first trip to Vegas involved Abby’s relationship with her father. While this would’ve been great material to use throughout the rest of the novel, the event is only used to break up the two characters for about seventy pages or so. There is no other fallout other than that, and most of the events and characters in Vegas are never referred to again. Besides the lack in plotting, the pacing was off as well. Transitions were never clear and I had a problem believing that some events would take as short or as long as a time as they did.
Character development was just as weak. While I liked a lot of the supporting characters like Parker, Finch, and Kara, I hated all of the main roles. Abby, the narrator and protagonist, was essentially a bland character. I didn’t know a lot about her. Only that she’s good at making bets, has a hundred or so nicknames, and is the object of Travis’s stalking. Oh, and the fact that she is extremely stupid when it comes to boyfriends and best friends. Let’s talk about the boyfriend first. Travis has to be one of the worst heros I have read about in awhile. He is abusive. I don’t care what you’re opinion is Travis is an emotional and physical abusive jack ass. He is not sexy. I don’t care if he has five thousand tats dedicated to his Pigeon (yep, that’s what he calls Abby: though we never learn the exact reason why-personally, I believe that this story started out as a Twilight and Lady and the Tramp crossover but that’s only me talking), he’s still an asshat. He is controlling, domineering, and an outright jerk. McGuire tries to cover this up by romanticizing Travis actions. For example, early on in the novel Travis buys Abby a puppy. Oh, I know it’s cute-right. Besides, how unethical it is for Travis to buy a puppy for someone as a pet (i.e. she’s in college how can she possibly afford the time and money to take care of a dog and I’m not even going to go into the fact that he bought it at some random breeder), it’s emotional blackmail. The puppy can’t live in Abby’s dorm so she’ll have to visit Travis to take care of it. Simple mistake you might say…we’ll let’s take another look at one of Travis’s romantic gestures. Abby and Travis are going to some sort of party and he throws a hissy fit about what she’s wearing. That he can’t control himself and demands that she changes. Actually, this happens multiple times in the book. You’d think that by this point someone would intervene and tell Abby to stay away from this moron, but nope her so called friend, America, tries to push them together. God, did I get annoyed with America her only purpose served to be a Tabby (Travis and Abby) pimp and it’s obvious that I don’t like Tabby so why would I like America?
Finally, one thing that really annoyed me in this novel was the use of sexual assault or attempted sexual assault as a plot point. No. Just no. A serious subject matter like this should be handled in delicate hands. I couldn’t believe how casually rape was mentioned in this book and how everyone except Travis was deemed to be a predator….Yeah, I’m not amused.
Best Feature: Easy Read. While I did find some major problems with McGuire’s writing, I was able to get through this book rather quickly. And that’s always a good thing since one of my biggest pet peeves is clunky purple prose.
Worst Feature: Glamorization of Abuse. The way the relationship was portrayed was probably my biggest issue with the book. Travis and Abby have a very toxic relationship. It shows all the classic signs of abuse and while I have no issues with abusive relationships being shown in literature, I do have a problem when it is handled inappropriately which is what happened in this book. Travis is controlling and domineering throughout the novel. He dictates who Abby can hang out with, how she can dress, and then proceeds to beat up anyone he feels shouldn’t be around her. And what does Abby do? She marries the douche. And for that matter, finds nothing wrong with his behavior. Look, if you’re going to write a book about dysfunctional relationships do it appropriately. Have Abby and Travis deal with the fallout of his action. Don’t have her marry him in Vegas to only start the cycle all over again. It’s tasteless.
Appropriateness: Despite the marketing for this book it’s very much an adult book. There is a ridiculous amount of inappropriate language in this book. There is lots of casual sex in this book. Several mentions of rape or attempted rape. And there are abusive relationships in this book. Hardly, something I’d want my preteen or teen reading.
Blockbuster Worthy: No way in hell. At least in my opinion but it’s been optioned. So let’s do some casting:
Abby: Kristen Stewart. Why? Because I cast her for all heroines I don’t like, it’s just that easy.
Travis: I am sorry Zac Efron, but I couldn’t help but think of you when I think of Travis. Mainly because he decides to spoof High School Musical at one point in the novel.
Overall Rating: While there were some interesting moments in this book, I really didn’t like it. To be fair though I can see why some people might enjoy it. Overall rating three out of ten.