Ready for this book to somehow get even worse? Remember Ariel’s chapter yesterday? Hopefully you’re not interested in hearing it from Travis’s side of the story, because he skips it.
Seriously. In Beautiful Disaster, Abby has an entire chapter where she has a not-date with Parker, Travis steals her from Parker because he’s still super possessive, and Abby almost gets raped. In Walking Disaster, Travis just goes:
…especially after the most recent time I’d broken Abby’s heart. I had talked Abby into leaving her date with Parker to come with me to a fight. […] I wanted Parker to know he had no hold on her. Abby felt I’d taken advantage of her feelings for me, and she was right.
All of those things were enough to feel guilty about, but the fact that Abby had been attacked in a place where I’d taken her made it nearly impossible to look anyone in the eye. Adding to all of that our close call with the law totaled up to me being a gigantic fuckup.
That’s it! Travis says those 100-200 words…
And then suddenly it’s two months later.
[Ariel says: On one hand, if we’d skipped this in my book we all would have been completely lost. On the other hand, I had all of these scenes in Beautiful Disaster and so many things confused me anyway that I think I’m actually relieved Travis skipped it over? Or maybe his POV would have clarified some stuff? I JUST DON’T KNOW!]
Now, I was totally confused when I read this because I had no idea what any of this was. There was a more recent heartbreak? What date with Parker? What attack on Abby? What close encounter with the law? Although since this is a parallel novel, I guess it’s not a 100% fair criticism that I didn’t know what this was when I hadn’t read the other book. Hey, it’s actually kind of an improvement, because it’s like Jamie McGuire realized that chapter was terrible and now I don’t have to read it!
You know what is a fair criticism, though? How Travis uses “Abby had been attacked” to mean “Abby was sexually assaulted”. THAT’S KIND OF AN IMPORTANT DETAIL. Travis/Jamie McGuire not actually using the words “sexual assault” to tell us about sexual assault is a deplorable misrepresentation of what actually happened, and devalues the severity of, you know, rape. It’s bad enough that McGuire threw in the cliched, hackneyed, “I can’t think of anything worse than can happen to a female character so here’s a scene where she almost gets raped because she’s a woman” scene, but it’s even worse that she redacted it, like she won’t own up to her awful storytelling and just decided to pretend the almost-rape scene she wrote didn’t happen. Shame on you, McGuire!
Chapter 25: Possession
Anyway, back to the funny, funny jokes, hopefully. So it’s two months later now. What is happening this far in the future? Do we have flying cars yet?
I mentally listed the pros and cons for going to the Valentine’s party
THIS IS SUCH A LAME FUTURE. [Ariel says: It’s not quite as lame as the one described in Cosmo’s Red Hot Reads where folks from the future seem really convinced that having lots of Facebook friends = happiness with life.]
Shepley was getting ready in his room, barely speaking to me since he and America had finally gotten back together.
Oh, cool, I guess we didn’t need to hear that part of the story. They only broke up two pages ago.
I nodded once. “Abby’s still going?”
“Yeah. With Finch.”
I managed a half smile. “Should that make me feel better?”
WHO IS FINCH? Finch has maybe been mentioned once in this book, and it definitely wasn’t mentioned that he’s gay. If we need that a character is gay for any particular reason, maybe mention it once or twice? Wow, this is like the opposite complaint I have on House of Night. If Finch even was introduced in Walking Disaster, it was so long ago and so insignificant that I have no idea who he is. I haven’t even been introduced to this character and I’m supposed to know him and his sexual orientation. [Ariel says: I feel like I haven’t done my civic duty as Beautiful Disaster summarizer and emphasized who he is. It’s just that whenever he’s brought up, he never does anything worth mentioning!]
Shepley leaves to go get America and go to the frat Valentine’s Day party. Travis gets drunk. This shit really writes itself, doesn’t it? Travis has a problem! Travis gets drunk. Travis imagines he has a problem! Travis beats someone up. After drinking a half-pint of some unspecified liquor, Travis goes to the party, where he sees Abby dancing with Finch (lol I don’t know who Finch is). Travis cuts in for a day, which upsets Abby. Abby also tells Travis that Parker won’t speak to her, although it’s unclear why this is a problem. [Ariel says: Yup, sounds like a solution to me.] Eventually Travis says something to piss off Abby enough where she actually leaves the uncomfortable situation.
Every interaction just added to the growing snowball of clusterfucks that was our relationship.
Maybe that should tell you something about this relationship, Travis.
Eventually one of Travis’s frat brothers – Brad, whom Travis helpfully reminds us is one of the “good” ones, which is great because it’s not like I remember any of the minor characters in this novel [Ariel says: I think he babysat plot!puppy when they were in Vegas. I don’t know why I remember that. Unless it was Brazil. Both their names start with B, so I don’t know.] – notices Abby is sad and asks her to dance to try to cheer her up. Travis immediately butts in and insists she dances with him, because it worked out so well the last time? The chapter is actually incredibly repetitive, and you already know this pattern well enough by now, so I’m just going to list off the most amusing/horrifying ways in which Travis makes an ass of himself or is otherwise a terrible person who could actually go to jail for some of this “romantic” shit:
- Travis gets on a chair and delivers a toast
“A toast! […] To douche bags!” I said, gesturing to Brad. “And to girls that break your heart.” I bowed to Abby. […] “And to the absolute fucking horror of losing your best friend because you were stupid enough to fall in love with her.”
- Abby dances with two dudes at the same time to get away from Travis, Travis still thinks everything is all about him
Abby moved closer and closer to her new dance partner. David, my least favorite Sig Tau brother, danced behind her, grabbing her hips. They smiled as they two-timed her, putting their hands all over her body. […] Instead of feeling jealous, guilt washed over me. This is what I had reduced her to.
- Travis literally picks Abby up and carries her out of the party
In two steps, I bent down and wrapped my arm around Abby’s legs, throwing her over my shoulder […] “I’m not going to let you embarrass yourself over me,” I growled (yes, that is helping her accomplish that)
- Travis forces Abby into a car, threatens the driver to take her to his house despite Abby’s loud protestations that she doesn’t want to go with him
“I need you to take us to my apartment,” I said as I got in beside her.
“Travis… I don’t think…”
“Do it, Donnie, or I’ll shove my fist through the back of your head, I swear to God.” […]
Abby lunged for the door handle. “I’m not going to your apartment.” […]
When the car slowed to a stop, Abby leaned forward. “Can you take me home, Donnie?”
I opened the door, and then pulled Abby out by the arm, swinging her over my shoulder again. “Night, Donnie,” I said, carrying her up the stairs.
I mean, hey, it’s not like it’s the first time in this chapter Travis downplayed sexual assault.
Although we should backtrack and give America proper recognition for being the world’s worst friend:
“America,” Abby said, squirming, “don’t just stand there! Help me!”
America’s mouth turned up and she laughed once. “You two look ridiculous!”
Now, in the interest of fairness in regards to “just how much of a sexual predator is Travis?”, Travis does say that his intentions are to wait “until you sober up and we figure this out”, rather than to take sexually advantage of a drunk Abby. Until, of course, he takes sexually advantage of a drunk Abby.
“You can’t tell me what to do anymore, Travis! I don’t belong to you!” […]
“Well, I belong to you!” I screamed. […]
Abby reached out, but instead of slapping my face, she grabbed each of my cheeks and slammed her mouth into mine. Without hesitation, I lifted her into my arms and carried her into my bedroom, letting both of us fall to my mattress.
That might sound bad, but he does realize they’re both still drunk and they probably shouldn’t have sex. Until, of course, they have sex.
My senses returned, and thoughts of permanent consequences began flashing though my mind. [sic. seriously.] […]
“We’re both drunk,” I said, breathing hard.
“I need you to say it.”
“I’ll say whatever you want.”
Fuck consent! True love is on the line!
It’s about as awful and cheesey and cliched as you can imagine, with lines of dialogue like “We’ve never really been apart, have we?” and “I’ve been yours since the second we met.” [Ariel says: Seriously, footage not found. Abby fleetingly wanted to get back together with Travis over Thanksgiving and has since barely showed any signs that she can even stand his presence.] The next morning they wake up and Travis realizes maybe last night was problematic.
“I didn’t mean for last night to happen like that. I was a little drunk, and I followed you around the party like some fucking stalker, and then I dragged you out of there, against your will… and then we…” […]
“Had the best sex of my life?” Abby said, smiling and squeezing my hand.
Because it’s fine that you were kidnapped and put in a position where you couldn’t give consent as long as the sex was really good.