by Jamie McGuire
First let me say that I read this novel months ago and have been sitting on my review because I am very torn about the story.
Abby Abernathy is a good girl, or let’s say a reformed bad girl, however you want to look at it—but she planned on making her life at Eastern the fresh slate she always dreamed of, away from her tarnished beginnings in Las Vegas. At Eastern she will date the right people and make only the best choices. Travis Maddox is the quintessential bad boy; he’s muscled, tatted up, drinks heavily, street brawls for cash, and goes through women like a chubby girl through a box of zebra cakes (based on personal experience.) When the lives of these two intersect, which is inevitable since Abby’s BFF is dating Travis’s cousin, sparks ignite; initially these sparks begin with the constant bickering between the two, who become fast “friends” and then later…well, you know.
Reading this book was like watching a train wreck or the news about a natural disaster. So in that regard, McGuire’s title is spot-on. I couldn’t put the novel down, but not because I loved the characters and was invested in their future, it was because I was so disgusted with them. Perhaps the disgust I felt had a lot to do with the fact that many aspects of the novel are spot-on in regards to the college experience for many who live on campus. In my recollection, there was a lot of drinking, a ton of profanity, a lot of partying, a lot of sex (or talk of sex) and a general feeling that these events were an important part of the college experience. Most times, there was very little respect for the individual. I have a very dated VHS which documents my own experience and that of my friends, and I confess, there is a great deal of toasting and slurring going on in this video. That being said, it seems like Abby and Travis always seem to be where the action is and the studying thing between them is thrown in to show that yes, indeed they can party all the time and do very well in school! A debatable point at best. I could have possibly gotten past the egregious use of alcohol and casual sex, but I was so very disappointed, outrageously disappointed, when Abby and Travis eventually hook up and realize they can’t live without one another. For one thing, Travis’s treatment of women, and of Abby is abhorrent—I don’t even want to get started on what an absolute dog he is. And Abby, is she really so weak-minded as to fall for his BS? At one point Abby’s roommate points out that the relationship between Abby and Travis is co-dependent and unhealthy. I remember praising this insightful character (although a complete moron could have seen this) and thinking that surely, surely the author was going to direct the ending to this conclusion and allow these two individuals to see the light….wow, was I surprised. Here’s the thing though despite my disgust, my chagrin, my disappointment, and my general anger at the novel, I cannot criticize it for being unrealistic or overly dramatic…sadly it smacks of truth. How many of us hooked up with the wrong guy when we were young, the bad boy we wanted to fix? Don’t answer that. At any rate, I have to, against every urge not to, give this novel 4 scribbles. I do this under protest. I would love to hear what others have to say, because I’m all torn up over this one. Am I going to read the sequel, Walking Disaster? Of course, eventually…but I need a breather before I witness what I expect from the title promises to be an even greater train wreck.