These Characters Might Be Friends First?!: Beautiful Disaster Chapter 1

Wow! Starting a brand spanking (is there going to be spanking?) new series! I always feel a tiny wave of anticipation before meeting new characters. I can barely remember not knowing (and hating) Ana, Christian, Gideon, Eva, Cary, and all their idiotic parents and friends! I wonder how these characters will compare, how often I’ll confuse them with the protagonists in these other books, and how many times I’ll wish I had a physical copy of Beautiful Disaster to throw at the wall.

And so it begins. [Matthew says: BATTLE OF THE SEXES. BOYS RULE GIRLS DREWL. Wow, I already got way too into character.]

Chapter 1 [!!!]: Red Flag [uh oh!]

Everything in the room screamed that I didn’t belong.

Do these books start any other way? Insecure protagonist struggling to find her way when she’s seemingly in over her head – sounds about right. [Matthew says: Mine starts with an overconfident protagonist getting what he wants, so… battle of the sexes?]

Abby and her best friend America are at a sketchy place. From her introduction, I can pretty much peg America as the archetypal best friend we’ve seen in the likes of Cary (Crossfire), Kate (Fifty Shades), and V (Hush, Hush). So far: Stupid name? Check. Obligatory BFF forcing the protagonist out of their comfort zone/into A Situation? check? Sass levels of said best friend? Yet to be determined.

America and Abby follow some guy named Shepley further into this place, and listen as his friend Adam sort of explains what’s going on to both the reader and a room full of people.

“Welcome to the bloodbath! If you are looking for Economics 101 . . . you are in the wrong fucking place, my friend! If you seek the Circle, this is Mecca! My name is Adam. I make the rules and I call the fight. Betting ends once the opponents are on the floor. No touching the fighters, no assistance, no bet switching, and no encroachment of the ring. If you break these rules, you will get the piss beat out of you and you will be thrown out on your ass without your money! That includes you, ladies! So don’t use your hos to scam the system, boys!”

To be fair, Shepley seems to find Adam’s choice of words pretty cringy, but come on? We’re barely a page in and there’s already misogyny! Beautiful Disaster, welcome to Bad Books, Good Times, I think you’ve found a home. [Matthew says: It’s like our underground fight club can’t just be an open-minded, non-discriminatory environment.] We also get loads of “cool” sounding yet vague, expository information. Apparently, our new band of characters is in a fight club type place.

We also learn a shocking amount of details in one paragraph (aka how Travis, ooooh love interest, connects here, and how Abby (who is wearing pearls and a pink cardigan! Oh Abby! You look so out of place!) has gotten to this crazy fight clubbin’ world.

Because I ran in somewhat tamer circles, I was surprised to learn of an underground world at Eastern; but Shepley knew about it before he had ever enrolled. Travis, Shepley’s roommate and cousin, entered his first fight seven months before. As a freshman, he was rumored to be the most lethal competitor Adam had seen in the three years since creating the Circle. Beginning his sophomore year, Travis was unbeatable. Together, Travis and Shepley easily paid their rent and bills with the winnings. [Matthew says: Not that I’m an expert on fight club gambling rings or anything, but if he literally always wins, how does he make any money? No one would ever bet against him and the economy will go stagnant.]

America is dating Shepley, America and Abby are friends, and you know, one thing leads to another and they’re all hanging out at the fight club.

The fight between Travis and expendable character Marek ends almost as quickly as it begins, with Travis the victor. [Matthew says: Want to know what’s really weird? The parallel novel from Travis’s side of the story starts after this scene. No, it doesn’t make any sense, and I was super confused what was going on.] More importantly, we see another author that doesn’t quite know how to use the word ‘detonate‘.

Adam threw a scarlet square of fabric onto Marek’s limp body, and the mob detonated. Cash changed hands once again, and the expressions divided into the smug and the frustrated.

At least it’s not being used to describe an orgasm, but it’s still an odd coincidence. I’m not even entirely sure what it means here. I thought maybe the crowd was cheering, but the next sentence makes it sound like everyone is just pulling faces to represent how well their respective bets went and then just like calmly handing the money over to one another. Everything detonated…peacefully?

head scratch

It’s time for Abby and Travis to meet cute…sort of.

I was shoved from behind, and Travis caught me by the arm before I fell forward. “Hey! Back up off her!” Travis frowned, shoving anyone who came near me. His stern expression melted into a smile at the sight of my shirt, and then he dabbed my face with a towel. “Sorry about that, Pigeon.”

Meeting in which female character falls and male character must catch/help her up? Check. Stupid fucking nickname to add to the Angel/Ace/My (poor) Fifty collection? Check. I mean, where on earth did Pigeon even come from? Is it the pink cardigan? The pearls? Does Abby look like a bird? Did she poop on someone’s head when we weren’t looking? [Matthew says:  You’d think the answer to this would be in the book from Travis’s perspective, but this scene isn’t even in it. He just immediately starts calling her “Pidge”, which makes even less sense, because he’s calling someone we don’t know he’s already met a nickname of a nickname.]

I didn’t mention this before because I didn’t think it was important, but during the fight, some blood landed on Abby’s cardigan, and Travis is all, “That sweater looks good on you, sucks there’s now blood on it,” before he disappears. What a mysterious guy! [Matthew says: He mentions that he sees “the girl with the bloody cardigan” in his story, but – you guessed it – doesn’t mention why there’s blood on her cardigan, or that he knows her. He just sounds like he suddenly went British.]

Then, because apparently blood on Abby’s cardigan (and the fact that she is wearing a cardigan, lest we fucking forget) is SUPER important, this happens:

America followed me into my dorm room and then sneered at my roommate , Kara. I immediately peeled off the bloody cardigan, throwing it into the hamper.

“Gross. Where have you been?” Kara asked from her bed.

Maybe there’s a history here, but it seems pretty fucking bizarre that America would just sneer at this Kara girl completely unprompted. Her response to Kara’s sensible (albeit insensitive) questions is equally as baffling.

“Nosebleed. You haven’t seen one of Abby’s famous nosebleeds?”

Kara pushed up her glasses and shook her head.

“Oh, you will.” She winked at me and then shut the door behind her.

self five

I…what? Hilarious? You see it’s funny because Abby doesn’t really get nosebleeds, and nosebleeds are funny because blood comes out of your nose which is like LOL blood isn’t supposed to come outta there! And it just gets even more hilarious because Kara ISN’T going to get to see Abby’s famous nosebleeds which aren’t even real, which means they can’t be famous, and which means Kara will never actually get to see them!

The next day at lunch it all starts to kick off!

Shepley nodded, and America and I both turned to see Travis take a seat at the end of the table. He was followed by two voluptuous bottle blondes wearing Sigma Kappa Ts. One of them sat on Travis’s lap; the other sat beside him, pawing at his shirt.

“I think I just threw up a little bit in my mouth,” America muttered.

The blonde on Travis’s lap turned to America. “I heard that, skank.”

America grabbed her roll and threw it down the table, narrowly missing the girl’s face. Before the girl could say another word, Travis let his knees give way, sending her tumbling to the floor.

“Ouch!” she squealed, looking up at Travis.

“America’s a friend of mine. You need to find another lap, Lex.” [Matthew says: This line isn’t in Travis’s version of the story for some reason. The story from Travis’s perspective does a worse job characterizing Travis.]

“Travis!” she whined, scrambling to her feet.

Travis turned his attention to his plate, ignoring her. She looked at her sister and huffed, and they left hand in hand.

Woah, that Travis sure keeps it real, yo. It don’t matter if she’s blonde with big boobs; there’s no place for her in his lap if she calls his friend names!

Travis comes over to chat with the crew, but he doesn’t recognize Abby at first. When they remind him he ruined her sweater (IT WAS A MOTHERFUCKING CARDIGAN) last night (THE BLOOD), he’s all, “I ruin a lot of girl’s sweaters CARDIGANS.” Classy guy! But don’t worry, we all know the power of Abby’s love and cardigans will save the day. Cardigans 4eva. [Matthew says: These lines also aren’t in Travis’s version of the story. Travis is a really shitty storyteller.]

Travis displays lots of interest in Abby, but she’s not having any of it. She doesn’t want to be like all the other girls that fawn over Travis! [Matthew says: TEAM TRAVIS! Abby’s a biiiiiitch!] He won’t make her blush! No way no how. He calls her pigeon a bunch more times because apparently that’s a thing we’re supposed to like about this series, and he leaves. Don’t worry, he doesn’t leave before telling America to bring Abby to his apartment.

Shep warns Abby that if she falls for Travis and then gets burned, she can’t take it out on him and America, and Abby is like, “As if.” She heads to class and gives us vague and mysterious details about Her Past.

Eastern was exactly what I hoped it would be, from the smaller classrooms to the unfamiliar faces. It was a new start for me; I could finally walk somewhere without the whispers of those who knew— or thought they knew— anything about my past.

I have a feeling it has something to do with sexual assault, and I also have a feeling that if I’m right, Travis is going to go apeshit when he finds out. Nothing else can ever seem to happen to a woman in these books when they have a dark secret in their past.

Abby gets to class and, what do you know, turns out Travis has been in there this whole time! But he usually sits a few rows ahead of her, so Abby never noticed him before…so I guess this isn’t like how Gideon and Eva have a sexual charge whenever the other one walks in a room?

I just really don’t get how Travis has never noticed Abby with America and Shep before. Or how Abby never noticed Travis in her class even though he’s so popular and sexy. I mean really, “A small group of girls was staring at me, and I noticed an empty chair in the center.” This doesn’t even happen in real life where gaggles of girls are constantly trying to sit in a guy’s lap, rub his chest while another girl is sitting in his lap, crowd around him in class…why are all these authors so completely out of touch with what life is actually like for people? [Matthew says: I have no idea what you mean. This pretty much describes my life in college.]

Abby is a total bitch to Travis, which he loves, so they make plans to hang out tonight. You know, just so he leaves her alone. It’s always a good idea when you want a guy to leave you alone to go to his apartment.

After class, America and obligatory-male-friend-who-might-have-feelings-for-Abby (Finch) show up and are like, “OMG Travis?!?! Are U Going 2 Sleep W/Him???” Abby’s like, “We’re totes all going 2 hang 2nite.”

Here’s where I realize my post is WAY too long and this chapter still has a bit more to go (and why is so much fucking happening in the first chapter! Let a girl ease into things a bit, will ya?) [Matthew says: My first chapter already ended. Point for Team Travis!] Abby goes to the apartment looking totally fugs hoping this will deter Travis (because this somehow makes sense), and instead he is just super nice, offers to help in her class if she needs it (he has all As) and explains he fights because he needs more money. He also explains he learned to fight because his dad drank and hit him, and he had four older brothers who were dicks and also hit him.

Abby talks about how uncomfortable Travis makes her feel the more he tries to hit on her. Again, this is probably a sign that she should just not be there at all. ”

I didn’t know how most girls felt around him, but I’d seen how they behaved. I was experiencing more of a disoriented, nauseated feeling than giggly infatuation, and the harder he worked to make me smile, the more unsettled I felt.

So this is our new male love interest, ladies and gents. A man to contend with Christian and Gideon! And I guess fucking Patch too.

The next logical step is to get onto Travis’ motorcycle with him to go get pizza, so that’s exactly what happens. Travis is super impressed by Abby’s lack of interest and finds her hilarious and declares they must be friends.

Abby agrees and says they won’t be having sex. I guess that’s a new kind of start to these romance novels. Despite the qualms I already have with this book, having the characters actually be friends and like each other before all the sex begins is kind of a nice change of pace. [Matthew says: I can’t wait to learn that this is totally the opposite from Travis’s perspective. Yaaaay Team Travis…]

Abby and Travis chat about their lives. Abby and America have been friends since high school, and Abby came to Eastern to get away from her parents (oooh mysterious), and Travis tells us a little more about his horrible older brothers.

Also, the whole soccer team is apparently eating at the same pizza place and having a chuckle about Travis taking a girl out to dinner first.

self five

“Oh, Travis! You normally just stick your penis right in without buying dinner first! But this time you are buying dinner first!”

Does no one in this book actually understand what a joke is?



  1. scummy48 Reply

    I think this is my new favorite. I like how the author writes college like crappy ya authors write high school. I also think pigeon is my favorite nickname thus far, and I was extra impressed by their super cliche meet cute because as well as all of the usual components, he randomly wiped her face with a towel.

    But in all seriousness, I did like how he didn’t remember her the next day. That’s actually really realistic since he probably talked to a lot of people that night and only saw her for a second. It’s really refreshing after all of this “I saw you once and couldn’t get you out of my head from that moment on I knew we were meant to be/meant to fuck and started stalking you that very night” bull shit that’s been in all the erotica/ya romance recently.

    I’m actually super excited for this series! This first chapter has already filled my night with some much needed lols!

    • 22aer22 Reply

      I couldn’t agree more about all of it! I hadn’t even though of the fact that it was cool he didn’t remember their minor encounter from the night before. Better yet, he wasn’t like, “Little did you know, I’ve been watching you from my limo and all I can think about is my dick in your mouth” (fucking Gideon.)

      One thing I really don’t get, though, is how he’s never seen Abby with America and Shepley before. Strikes me as very odd given this is not the first time any of them have hung out. Why is he only noticing Abby now? Whateverrrrrr.

      I’m excited too! It’s always a good sign when I have too much to say about a chapter instead of like “…shit I have nothing to say about Gideon and Eva fighting about the same crap.”

    • matthewjulius Reply

      That is actually a huge improvement I didn’t even think about. Him not remembering a girl he saw briefly in passing is more realism than these books tend to offer AND is less creepy than finding out he already owns the building she lives in and the company she works at.

  2. Manny Reply

    I’ve read some reviews of the book on Goodreads. I guess you and Matt will have a lot of fun with both books! I won’t spoil why or what I read, but you might think about buying the book just to throw it against the wall for real…!

    • 22aer22 Reply

      Hm that would definitely be less costly than throwing my laptop against the wall…

      You know, it’s funny, I only have an idea of what’s going to happen in these books, I actually haven’t read ahead, read spoilers, or spoken to anyone who’s already read the books. What a journey this is going to be.

      • Manny Reply

        I only have a rough idea too, but it’s more than enough to be exasperating sometimes. The feeling of “been there, read that”, as you pointed out in your post, is not just a feeling… I can see it in a lot of this YA books (or whatever they call it).
        Anyway I’m so looking forward to discovering these books with you! 🙂

  3. Vivienne Reply

    Oh goodness…”Pigeon”…I just, I can’t…no. Here, let me try to sound like a 1950’s rockabilly wannabe to prove how cool and hip I am. And her! Showing up to an underground fight club scene in motherfucking pearls and a CARDIGAN?! This all reads as the bad fan fiction of someone who idolizes the pin-up culture that has had a resurgence, I bet this guy looooooooves James Dean and classic cars and/or motorcycles.

    I’d like to point out that a) I love cardigans. I have many and wear them all the fucking time. And b) I love the pin-up culture and have many friends who are burlesque dancers and/or dress in 1950’s style clothing everyday. However, bad fan fiction, erotic or not, is just rage inducing. I’m glad you guys are reading this and not me!

    • matthewjulius Reply

      I know, I can’t get over the wearing a cardigan and pearls to an underground boxing ring thing either. It’s like if John Hughes wrote Fight Club.

      • 22aer22 Reply

        I’m scared…so scared. Also sad that I now know some things that happen but also can’t wait to talk about said things that happen.

    • Jena Reply

      What in the actual fuck? That’s some straight-up Nabokov shit except it’s being played straight as romantic. I’m terrified. Ariel and Matthew just might go insane reading these books.

  4. Kate Reply

    Awkward confession: I totally used to have a crush on this girl who I called Pigeon, and it kind of did become a thing for like, three years? But the main difference is the fact that there was actually a story behind it. I didn’t just randomly decide to start calling her that, because that would have been incredibly weird.
    But yeeeeah. Y’all are so thrown by this “Pigeon” thing, and all I can think is, “This Travis kid is just badly rehashing the game I had in middle school.”

    • 22aer22 Reply

      Yeah, it’s definitely not so much the actual nickname itself (waaay less cringy on it’s own than the others we’ve seen), but it is SO random. I figured once Matt wrote about Travis’ first chapter we’d understand how it started. Without spoiling too much, Travis seems to have a poor understanding of different species of birds and we still don’t get a reasonable explanation for Pigeon.

      Basically, rambling aside, I respect your use of Pigeon because you had a story behind it. And are not Travis. And probably have a working understanding of what pigeons and vultures are. But that last one was kind of a spoiler…

  5. E.H.Taylor Reply

    Why do all of these characters have to have terrible dark pasts that usually involve parental abuse and/or sexual assault? It seems like the authors are taking the easiest way possible to give their characters ‘depth’ and explain away all of their flaws. I mean, these are serious issues, but they’re just being used as lazy writing devices to get around things and make the characters more ‘likeable’ or pitiable despite being giant assholes or shallow with no real personality.

    • 22aer22 Reply

      Exactly! And it’s also used to sort of be like, “Look how special my character is because they have suffered more and nobody else in these books understands them until they meet the love interest who totally does because their past is dark too!”

      Ana didn’t have a dark past, but she also had no personality, so that’s not exactly helping the case to not have a dark past, sadly.

  6. Ali Reply

    can you guys make a t-shirt that says cardigans4eva and looks like a cardigan?

  7. joy bird Reply

    I fucking love cardigans! I have way more than a reasonable number of them, in many shapes, textures, and colors. There are nubby ones, schlubby ones, boxy ones, short ones, long ones, ones that can double as robes or even coats, some with fancy trim and/or buttons, several with faux-lapels, and one with a lace collar (which is hilarious if you know me).

    But I also have a dirty mouth and no stick up my ass, because I’m not a cardboard cutout upon which a crappy “fauxrotica”/YA author has doodled a bunch of cliches as a stand-in for actual writing or character development. Checkmate.

    (P.S.: you guys, Matt & Ariel, are awesome. Keep up the good work, by which I mean “reading this shit until you get really drunk and weep.”)

    • 22aer22 Reply

      Cardigans are awesome, Abby’s gonna ruin them for everyoneeee!

      Ha! I can just imagine Jamie McGuire just being like, “Character development is hard. What should I do?! I know…write character that wears lots of…cardigans! Oh my God. That’s what was missing all along.”

      D’awww thank you 🙂 Continue reading this shit, drinking, and weeping we shall!

      • Helen Reply

        Abby is seriously giving cardigans a bad name. And this is only from the first chapter. But also I’m not prim and proper and I wear pearls so I hope she doesn’t ruin them for normal people too.

        • 22aer22 Reply

          Don’t worry, I had to take the train the other night, so I wound up reading most of the book. Pearls are never even mentioned again. You’re safe! I guess pearls and cardigans were only used to set up the way Abby was going to be written at one point…but then it gets completely dropped.

  8. readingwithafeather Reply

    I have this awful love for YA and New Adult. I know it’s corny and ridiculous, but I can’t stop it despite being in college.

    Still, I can’t read books like this anymore because of the lack of backbone these girls have. Of course, Abby has been sexually assaulted in the past and despite all of that when she gets bad vibes on her outing with Travis, she doesn’t bother to leave. My prediction might be completely wrong (for the love of God, I hope it is), but I have this bad feeling that she’s going to admit to all of her ‘dark past’ and then they’ll have sex. Because nothing turns somebody on like rape and abuse! Ask Christian!

    Books really need to start handling sexual assault better. They seem to go to it because women can relate, but that shouldn’t mean they make it something to be desired. I’ve heard a 13 year old girl talk about how she wanted to be raped, so guys will love her and feel bad for her. This is not okay. I’m getting angry and need to stop before this becomes it’s own blog post.

    Oh and I love you guys. This blog has helped me procrastinate so many essays, but according to these books, I’ll eventually meet a rich, hot man who I can cook for so who needs college?

    • 22aer22 Reply

      I hate to admit when I’m wrong (when I was so damn sure), but Abby WASN’T sexually assaulted. The bad news is that the “dark past” is like really dumb and is never fully explained/makes no real sense. But the GOOD news is pretty much the same as the bad news. It’s hilarious! And I don’t have to tread lightly when I mock the shit out of it.

      But I totally agree about your take on books handling sexual assault. The reason it was so easy to jump to the conclusion about Abby’s past is that most books do use this as an easy fallback to create sympathy (and arguably relate-ability) for the protagonist. It also usually inspires a violent “romantic” reaction from the male protagonist. It’s so depressing that the takeaway from this is that someone would actually want to be violated to achieve this. It’s not surprising, though. I remember I used to think if something tragic happened to me I’d be more interesting/more special. I think it was around that very age in fact.

      Oh yeah, you’ll be fine! Forget essays, your future husband will just give you your own company! Glad we could provide enjoyment while you wait for your own Christian Grey to show up 😉

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