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Good bits and not-so-good bits 3.5*
on 12 April 2013
It’s taken me a while to get put ‘fingers to laptop’ (somehow doesn’t sound as good as ‘pen to paper’ does it?) on this book, partly because I’ve found it difficult to separate my thoughts on the story in itself from the split reaction Beautiful Disaster has had among other reviewers (very few people give it a middle-of-the-road rating - it’s a love it or hate it book it would seem).
Firstly – the story – the characters are certainly YA, although I would honestly characterise them as ‘older YA’ – they are not 19 year-olds in the Bella Swan mould, but pretty ‘real’ from a drinking, partying, first-time-away-from-home, frequently reckless side of things. This is why the synopsis features a clear indication of suitable audience (it did when I purchased for Kindle at least).
Abby and Travis are certainly not perfect individuals – and at times border on having some serious personal flaws – however, (aside from being a fighter for money [Travis] and poker player supremo [Abby]) they are reasonably realistic in their behaviour: they behave quite randomly in their relationship, antagonising each other one minute, then in perfect bliss and harmony the next. I certainly saw a number of similar ‘car crash’ couples like this during my late teens and early twenties, who would veer from one end of the spectrum to another with seemingly endless frequency. Some people will never experience this, or will do it to a lesser degree, then ‘grow out of it’. There are others still who will remain in couplings like these where volatility appear to be the basis of attraction and even the relationship itself.
Abby and Travis quite often lack self-awareness and this drives many of their misunderstandings and subsequent conflicts. But this for me, felt realistic. When you’re really learning about yourself for the first time and what it is like to be away from family influences and your past you do some weird things – that’s because it’s all new. You decide something because it seems like the best thing to do – maybe you think that’s how ‘grown-ups’ behave, or you saw it on TV and want to emulate that behaviour in your own life as you begin to understand where your own morals lie. You certainly get lots of things wrong, but that is the whole point – it’s a time to make mistakes and the right choices, but there’ll always be a mixture of the two.
So for a book rating I’d say 3.5/5 – I enjoyed reading it, got through it quickly and I engaged with the characters. Overall – the book flows well, the dialogue is quick and the dramatic episodes are fun. As a YA romance/coming of age book it works. Yes there are some spelling issues (latter half of the book) but you can see for the majority of readers that doesn’t bother them. The plot is a rollercoaster ride with Abby and Travis veering from one experience to another as they work out who they are and what they want – I liked the uni life and parties the best. The Vegas episode was fine, but it didn’t especially add to the story for me, but I can also see why it was there. Travis and Abby are ‘big’ characters and so you get some spectacular fireworks around them – which you’ll know from other reviews is probably one of the most divisive features for reviewers.