If you think it’s astounding that Jamie McGuire’s had this much success writing the same college drama-comedy romance centering around the same handful of plot points three times, remember that one of those thrice-used scenes is dozens of nameless college students dying in a fire. Because nothing says “college romantic comedy!” like “tragic fire claiming a ton of innocent lives”. Three times. [Ariel says: But, Matthew, the romance stakes have never been higher! Forget all the people that died tragically in this fire, everyone else has three times.]
Beautiful Oblivion Chapter 24
Cami and Raegan are working in the bar, lamenting that it’s totally dead because the school’s underground fight club steals all their clientele whenever there’s a fight.
If you’re reading Beautiful Oblivion, it’s basically guaranteed you’ve read Beautiful Disaster, so you’ve been waiting for the fire to happen. In the back of your head, you’ve known that the tonally-jarring fire is inevitably coming. Or, if you’re writing this story, you’re gonna play this for irony.
“Everyone is gone. It’s a goddamn tragedy,” Raegan said. “Those damn fights.”
Hahaha, irony! It’s funny because dozens of people are about to asphyxiate to death. [Ariel says: This really pissed me off because it was like Jamie McGuire just popped her stupid head into my living room to be like, “Hold your horses, you silly reader, you. No one’s actually died in the fire you’ve been expecting…yet ;)”]
But soon enough, news catches up to them about the fire. This is an incredibly serious, incredibly tragic event in the story.
Naturally, this is a great time to use the comic relief character.
Blia ran in, holding up her phone. “Holy fuck balls! It’s all over Facebook!” she cried. “Keaton Hall is burning!”
Because nothing says “appropriate time for comic relief” like “people are dying in a burning building”!
[Hank] switched channels until the news came on. […] Smoke was billowing from Keaton and terrified students were running across the lawn. The caption read Amateur Video Taken by Cell Phone
Why doesn’t the news have camera there? Why are they using amateur cell phone video of a live event? How are they using amateur cell phone video of a live event? Is this video somehow streaming from this cell phone directly to the station, who have the capabilities to organize that but not to get their own cameras to the event?
The others try to stop Cami from going to Keaton, telling her she can’t go into a burning building and taking her phone to call Trenton first, whose number for some reason she has memorized instead of actually saved into her phone.
Raegan took the phone from me.
“What’s his number?”
“Four-oh-two-one-four-four-eight,” I said
But when Trenton doesn’t pick up his phone, she gets out and drives to campus, where she sees students “screaming and crying” and “dozens of bodies […] lying in a line”, unable to find Trenton or, worse, Trenton’s body.
Also, Cami’s cell phone has magically teleported to back into her possession.
My cell phone rang, and I nearly dropped it trying to get it to my ear. “Hello?” I cried.
“Cami?” Raegan said. “Stay put! Trent is on his way to you!”
Because it sure sounds like she ran out of the bar without her cell phone.
We waited. No one moved. No one spoke. Raegan’s eyes danced around until they finally settled on me. She shook her head.
I didn’t wait to give them a chance to restrain me again. I sprinted for the entrance and burst through the double doors, to my Jeep.
Trenton and Cami reunite after literally a single page of tension, where he also reveals that Travis and Abby are alive too, then they go back to her apartment.
Just to really drive home how pointless and ineffective it is to decide to end your story with a scene that tragically kills off dozens of minor and/or nameless characters, Cami and Raegan lament the death of a completely unrecognizable character.
She looked everywhere but into my eyes. “Baker’s mom was just interviewed. He didn’t make it.”
Wanna know how many times Baker has been mentioned in this book before? Twice.
Wanna know what Baker’s only line of dialogue was? “Hey, sexy.” Yep, I’m really feeling the tragic loss of life, Beautiful Oblivion. You know, as soon I looked up who this character was.
Something arguably even more pointless happens: an unknown number calls Trenton’s phone, but then hangs up.
“It’s just a number.”
“Local?” I asked. It rang a third time. He nodded. “Answer it.”
He held the phone to his ear, hesitant. “Hello?” After a short pause, he lowered the phone to his lap. “Too late.”
Then the story skips to everyone going to bed. Too bad if you want to have any idea why the fuck this was important to include in the story, because we’re not gonna get to it until halfway through the next scene.
Speaking of the next scene, I am certain this could have been worded better.
Trenton ran his fingers through my hair. “I left her,” he said.
I sat up. “Who?”
Trenton then tells the story of how, while trying to escape the fire, they got separated from Travis, and then ran into a bunch of other lost students, whom Trenton then helped find their way out of the building, which somehow involved abandoning Abby in their in-progress plan to escape. Look, I don’t know how I’d act in mortal peril, and it probably would not be rationally, but I don’t understand how Trenton was only able to help these people also do what he was trying to do by abandoning his current attempt to do so. “Sorry, Abby! I have to go do exactly what we were doing, but without you! Good luck not dying in a fire!”
[Ariel says: I also got the sense that McGuire had been wringing her hands, fretting that we’d all have this major bias against Trenton because of how he left Abby in the fire? Little did she know, we’d actually be poised to hate him because he’s a Maddox.]
Speaking of things that don’t make sense, only now do Trenton and Cami think, “Wait, maybe we should call back that unknown number that called us on this tragic night of tragedy”. Turns out it’s fanservice! [Ariel says: HANG UP IMMEDIATELY! WE DON’T WANT ANY!]
Trenton seemed confused and surprised at the same time. “Abby? Is everything okay? […] What is that noise? Are you in an arcade?”
So you remember that Abby and Travis got married in Vegas after the fire because they felt alive or whatever?
“There were a lot of people at the fight last night. A lot of people died. Someone has got to go to prison for it. […] I asked Travis to marry me.”
“Uh . . .” Trenton said, he looked to me again. My eyebrows shot up halfway to my hairline. “Okay, how in the hell is that going to help him?” […]
They were going to get married, hoping it was just crazy enough that the investigators would believe that Travis was in Vegas instead of at Keaton Hall. My heart broke for them. […]
“He would want you to marry him because you want to. If he ever found out, it’d break his heart.”
So I only read the book that was from Travis’s perspective (Walking Disaster), and this is completely unfamiliar to me. I don’t know if Abby is only giving Trenton part of the story (given Jamie McGuire’s usual storytelling prowess, this isn’t exactly out-of-line), but the fact that Abby’s secret is literally never mentioned in Travis’s story is… sort of mega fucked up? [Ariel says: If we bothered to read that other companion novel Stupid Wedding or whatever, I’m pretty sure this was revealed there.]
Trenton and Cami are – sort of to their credit – mad depressed about this turn of events. Much less to their credit is the conversation this somehow naturally leads into.
He leaned his head back against the headboard, and closed his eyes. “I’m going to marry you someday.”
It actually manages to get significantly dumber. Significantly.
I smiled. “When pigs fly.”
He shrugged. “I can put a pig on a plane. No problem.”
“Okay, when you dance around in a thong to Britney Spears in front of your dad. That’s when we’ll get married.”
Well, that sounds like an oddly-specific wacky happening that would totally never happen as a way to end this book.
He took in a long, deep breath, and then blew it out. “Challenge accepted.”
This is the same chapter that began with dozens of people dying in a fire.
Question of the Day: We only have one week left of Beautiful Oblivion! The nightmare is almost over! So Ariel and I have been planning on returning to the world of Crossfire, since there’s now a fourth book, Captivated by You, (I would know… there are ads all over the fucking New York subway). Are we correctly assuming everyone is interested in the next stop on that shit train? [Ariel says: Gideon’s point of view is in this one (he and Eva alternate every chapter. So there is even more misogyny to enjoy, guys! Ain’t it grand?]