Friday, July 5, 2013

Review: Walking Disaster by Jamie McGuire

Walking Disaster (Beautiful, #2)
Goodreads Summary: Finally, the highly anticipated follow-up to the New York Times bestseller Beautiful Disaster. 
Can you love someone too much?
Travis Maddox learned two things from his mother before she died: Love hard. Fight harder.
In Walking Disaster, the life of Travis is full of fast women, underground gambling, and violence. But just when he thinks he is invincible, Abby Abernathy brings him to his knees.
Every story has two sides. In Beautiful Disaster, Abby had her say. Now it’s time to see the story through Travis’s eyes.
Goodreads / Barnes and Noble

Genre: New Adult, Romance
Pages: 433
Publisher: Atria Books
How I Got It: Library

First Line: "Even with the sweat on her forehead and the skip in her breath, she didn't look sick."

Favorite Quote: "I decided a long time ago that I would feed on the vultures until dove came along. A pigeon. The kind of soul that doesn't impede on anyone; just walked around worrying about its own business, trying to get through life without pulling everyone else down. With its own needs and selfish habits. Brave. A communicator. Intelligent. Beautiful. Soft-spoken. A creature that mates for life. Unattainable until she has a reason to trust you." 


Warning: Mild spoilers ahead 

After having read Beautiful Disaster last year and having very mixed feelings about it, I debated about whether or not I was going to read this for a long time. When it finally popped in my library catalog, I just decided to start it. I knew that I was going to have the same issues as before, because since it's a re-write of the story though the eyes of a different character and not an actual sequel, it wasn't like anything was going to surprise me. However, I'd be lying if I said I honestly regretted picking up either of these books. Some part of me actually enjoys them. I'm still very confused about the butterflies, though. On the first one, this particular insect appears in a jar, and now on Travis' arm. Is the butterfly meant to symbolize something? I would like to know, because nothing about it is ever mentioned (at least, nothing I can remember) and it just seems like a very random cover image. Also, I'm not sure they should have done such a major close up of his arm. It looks scarily big.

We start off the story with Travis saying goodbye at a very young age to his mother, who is dying. This opening scene did make me pretty sad, though I did question how Travis would remember exactly what happened that night since he was so little. When chapter one begins, he's all grown up and clearly an incredibly big jerk. He treats women horribly, and when he sleeps with them, he calls it "bagging" them, and come on, that sounds more like murder than sex, doesn't it? The main reason I started this novel was because I wondered if seeing things from his perspective would shed new light on some of the insane stuff he did, but not really. Travis has a temper, and his tantrums range anywhere from being childish to being scary with a dash of instability for good measure. The time he messes up his own apartment after Abby leaves and when he punches another guy in the face for trying to dance with her are the best example of this.

Interestingly, the line on the back of Walking Disaster is: "Can you love someone too much?" In this case, I believe the answer to that question is yes. On some level, I actually liked Travis falling in love and finally understanding deep feelings for another person. But the amount of time he spends thinking about her and his actions are inexcusable. At one point, he goes to the same party as Abby and drags her out of it and back to his apartment against her will. It was starting to feel like one of those abusive relationship books at that point (and sometimes earlier than that). Abby isn't much better - her constant flightiness was maddening, and America goes from wanting Abby to be with Travis to not wanting her to be throughout the book, back and forth. So, it's pretty safe to say that these characters drive me up the wall. They make me very frustrated. It also irks me that they up and decided to get married towards the end; it was way too sudden and seemed like the magical answer to their problems.

Reading this made me think about how it might be to write a story like this - the same one, with a different perspective. You'd have to write the same parts, with the same dialogue and the same details. There were quite a few new conversations and scenes, but a few things I remember happening Beautiful Disaster were kind of glossed over and just mentioned. Obviously, they're not too important if the author decided to basically leave them out, but it was interesting to see what she decided to cut. I was glad she decided to include an explanation for Travis' nickname for Abby; Pigeon.

With all of these complaints, you'd think I hated both of these books, right? Well, I probably should. I know that they are screwed up and unhealthy. But there's something about both of them that was extremely addicting. No matter how annoyed I was, I had to continue on. There were moments scattered here and there where I actually really enjoyed Abby and Travis being together. Beautiful & Walking Disaster are both packed with angst and drama - it's kind of like watching a terrible car or train accident. You want to look away, but you can't. I've recently learned that McGuire plans to write new books that follow Travis' brothers - I'm not sure how many of them she plans to write stories for, but I was probably the most interested in Thomas. When her new stories come out, I will probably pick them up, because obviously I have no bookish self control. 

3 stars 

Books in this series:
1. Beautiful Disaster
2. Walking Disaster 

Other Opinions: 

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  1. I tried to read this and I just couldn't finish. I didn't like Beautiful Disaster, but I didn't hate it either. Like you I thought this might clue me more into Travis's ridiculous behavior, but alas, it did it, I found him even scarier and Abby super annoying and I gave up maybe 30 or 40% in.

    1. I can't say I blame you - Travis and Abby are infuriating.