Beautiful Disaster is a very fitting title for this book. The relationship between Abby and Travis is hardly smooth-sailing in this story (I’m sure most people are aware of that by now), but there is something to be said about watching two people fall in love. For some, I imagine it is easier to look past the disaster and focus on the beautiful. For me, this book was less about the nature of the relationship and more about the execution.
I didn’t enter this book expecting a healthy romance between polished characters (and I doubt the author intended to write it as such). As Abby said so herself, she and Travis are a dysfunctional pair. They are the same ends of two magnets being forced in to place; there is a want for the two to be able to be together, but at the same time, a realisation that they shouldn’t be. I am a firm believer of romance, of happy endings, but I also believe there has to be a convincing case for such progression in the storyline. Where Beautiful Disaster is concerned, I needed feasible growth and improvement in both characters for me to support their struggles. I am not entirely convinced that I got this, and this is where Beautiful Disaster disappoints.
Travis is, undoubtedly, a very controversial character. He turned out to be exactly as I expected: volatile and full of aggression. There is a brief glimpse into his past that provides a (somewhat flimsy) explanation of his behaviour. According to his father, ‘he was never the same’ after his mother passed away and ‘he quit trying to love people after that’. I wish there had been more of an emphasis on this aspect. Maybe then, it would have been easier to understand and appreciate his character further. Abby, on the other hand, was not the character I had been anticipating her to be. I think the book description is a little misleading here. For someone who doesn’t drink and has a closet full of cardigans – there’s nothing wrong with a good cardigan, by the way – she was more like Travis than I think she recognises. Her irresponsibility made her a little hypocritical at times. It was difficult to like either of them at first, and, unfortunately, little changed by the end of the book.
Character issues aside, my main concern with this book is the disordered plot. Detour after drama-filled detour twisted this story into a complicated mess. It seemed to me that as long as there was a situation occurring that could pull Travis and Abby apart (or put them back together again), then it had to be included. I was quite convinced I had reached the end at one point, but then we had a fire, a trip to Vegas, a family reunion… it was endless, but more importantly, it was pointless. The on-again, off-again scenarios were repetitive, excessive and, quite frankly, annoying. Pacing and planning were quite clearly issues here.
Despite all of that, there were small occasions where I actually felt this book might fall into the ‘guilty pleasure’ pen. For a few fleeting moments, the problems in this book were acknowledged and Abby and Travis were acting accordingly. It was all quick to collapse however, thanks to the drama-fest of a plot line. Still, I think those appropriately emotional moments will reach out to readers more familiar with this sort of story. In the end, it proved not to be something I easily enjoyed, and I guess I’m not totally surprised. Curiosity made me read this book. After all, Beautiful Disaster has over 15,000 5-star ratings on Goodreads, and while it isn’t meant for me, I’m sure it will continue to generate fans.