Ariel and I are splitting up the last chapter of Beautiful Oblivion into two parts today, and that will conclude our coverage of Beautiful Oblivion! What a long, strange ride it’s been! By mean I mean it was cliched and mostly meaningless.
Regular readers may be wondering why I’m posting on a Monday, and also possibly, whaaaaaat. Ariel and I swapped this week, because she hates the ending of this book that much. Get excited. [Ariel says: It’s one of our biggest regrets that we didn’t capture on film the moment I revealed the ending to Matt. Emotions were running wild.]
Additionally, I have an important note about how I wrote this post. Ariel and I have already spoiled the twist ending of this book partway through our reading, but I decided that in order to most fully appreciate how weird this ending is, we really have to pretend we don’t know. So everyone just pretend you don’t know about any big reveals or anything. Just prepare yourselves to give into a state of absolute confusion. [Ariel says: I promise this is completely doable, because I have known the ending while writing most of these posts, and it still makes no sense to me.]
As one final note, apparently this post is our 666th post we’ve published on Bad Books, Good Times. I was gonna make a joke about how appropriate that is, since Trenton is a total monster in this post, but then I realized that’s no different from any male character in any of the previous 665 posts.
Cami brings us up to speed with the aftermath of the last chapter’s events, letting us know that talk around campus has mostly centered around the fire, those lives tragically lost in the fire, and also hot gossip about Travis and Abby’s marriage and whether there’s a pregnancy involved. At least the book is staying true to its tonally confusing self. YOU BE YOU, BOOK. [Ariel says: The Students Without Netflix is the only fanservice I needed from this series.]
Also, because this book needs to have some semblance of a plot, T.J. shows up. Remember, we’re pretending that we don’t know what the twist is, so none of this makes any kind of sense. Also, we don’t know that there is going to be a twist, so just imagine how fucking weird all of this conversation looks:
“I wondered if you would come back,” I said.
“Took the first flight out.”
“Checking on everyone?”
He nodded. “Damage control.”
“What can you do?”
He shook his head. “It’s both of them.”
“You leave Trent out of it,” I snapped.
He laughed once without humor, clearly surprised at my anger. “It’s not me, Camille.” “If you’re not here for work, then why are you here?”
That’s a good question! You know what else is a good question? How do any of the sentences in this conversation belong in the same conversation? Didn’t I just read 300 pages of this book? Shouldn’t I at least have some idea of how TJ’s job is or is related to damage controlling Trent and another unspecified individual?
Cami suggests that TJ “come clean”, but he says he can’t right now, which is a real shame, because I didn’t realize I’d have to pay the same amount of attention to characters’ basic but deliberately hidden motivations in this college romance novel as I would for Memento.
Cami tells TJ he should go, and he says “I just wanted to say hi” and tries to kiss her on the cheek, but she backs away, to which he responds, “I was just saying good-bye”. Never have I seen someone fail so badly to greet another person that they immediately changed their mind from whether they were saying hello to goodbye based on the failure of their hello.
Cami goes to the tattoo parlor, where Hazel has finally talked someone into getting gauges, thus fulfilling her entire role in the book, I guess.
“Beautiful!” she said.
“Really? I’m getting fucking gauges for you, and you call me beautiful?” [Trenton said.] “How about manly? Studly? Badass?”
“Pretty!” Hazel said
Man, if only the “Raegan stopped dating her boyfriend so she could date her ex until they go to a party that they didn’t go to the last time they dated and then they did so she broke up with him again and resumed dating the other guy” subplot were as concise as the “Hazel wants to give someone gauges” subplot. As an added bonus, she also mocks Trenton’s toxic masculinity. Who would have thought that not only would “Hazel wants to give someone gauges” be objectively superior subplot, but probably better than the actual plot!
My enthusiasm for Hazel doesn’t last long, of course, because she’s a character in a Jamie McGuire novel, so it’s only a matter of time before she says something so crude it suspends disbelief.
“And that is why I waited for your girl. So you wouldn’t cry. Damn, Cami takes your dick every night, and it’s way bigger than a sixteen gauge.”
Ugh, really? Cami, are you gonna take that?
I mean the lewd comment.
I frowned. “Uncalled for. You need to get laid.” […]
Hazel jutted out her lip. “Tell me about it!”
Apparently Hazel’s dissatisfaction with her sex life was a defining character trait. Too bad we learn this the last time we ever see her in the entire novel. [Ariel says: Based on previous experience, I strongly suspect that this could be the basis for another spinoff book.]
Also, I don’t know if you guys knew this, but apparently Trenton Maddox has a huge dick.
Trenton wore a wry smile. “But she’s right, baby doll. I’m way bigger than a sixteen gauge.”
I’m a guy (spoilers) and probably can’t really weigh in on this, so, instead, here’s a poll! For the ladies.
So. Readers. You know we’re getting towards the end. Not even Jamie McGuire is such an awful writer that she’ll forget to give the book a climax [Ariel says: Sounds like Trent’s giving Cami plenty of those with his confusingly sized piece of man meat.] So something big has to happen soon. Big like Trenton’s at least sixteen gauge penis. Are you ready for shit to get real?
Bishop was glaring at me […] I was tired and not in the mood for his weirdness.
“I saw you today.”
“I saw you today.”
Because the book is only barely ready.
“I saw T.J., too. That was T.J., right?” He put emphasis on the letters. He knew.
To the book’s credit, this is maybe one of the few times that something (mostly) makes sense pre-twist and then take on greater meaning after you know the twist. But we totes don’t know about the twist (riiiight?), so basically, all that this means is that Bishop saw Cami talking to a guy and assumed it was her ex. And we know that scene was pretty boring, so… based on the information we’re working with, and if that’s what’s pushing us into the climax…[Ariel says: But like…why is Bishop giving a fuck at this moment? Did Bishop even know Cami used to date someone besides Trent? She didn’t even meet him until she’d been working at the tattoo place for awhile. Trent has no idea who Cami was dating but Bishop does? WHAT THE FUCK.]
Trenton’s face immediately jerked in my direction. “T.J.? He’s in town?” […] He growled. “What is Bishop talking about?”
Cami makes Trenton promise to let her explain, and then tells him that T.J. met her at her car after class (no one ever questions how he knew she was currently in class, possibly the one part of this that might actually warrant some concern…) and “talked for a little bit”. Bishop continues being super invested in Trenton’s love life for some unclear reason.
Bishop shook his head. “Definitely not what I saw.”
“What the fuck is your problem?” I hissed.
That’s a super good question.
He shrugged. “Just thought Trent should know.”
“Know what?” I shrieked. “Nothing happened! He tried to kiss me, and I backed away! If you saw anything different than that you’re a fucking liar!”
“He tried to kiss you?” Trenton said, his voice low and menacing.
“She did back away,” Bishop said. “I’m gonna bounce. Later.”
Literally the only reason that this book’s climax is happening is because a minor character, in their second scene ever, is a nosy asshole.
So I bet Trenton takes this well.
Haha, just kidding. He’s going to get angry at Cami over someone else’s actions. I’ve been reading this book.
Trenton shook his head. “I’m done with this, Cami. I’m fuckin’ done.”
My chest tightened. “You’re done.”
“Yeah, I’m done. You expect me to keep putting up with this?”
To be fair, it is fairly upsetting when someone – possibly especially an ex – makes a move on your significant other. It’s upsetting for them and you’re upset that it happened to them, and it shows a huge lack of respect on the offending party’s part, because at that point it stops even being about the person they have feelings for, and becomes entirely about them and their selfishness. Unless, of course, you’re Trenton Maddox, in which case everything is always about you. [Ariel says: Also, he did the same fucking thing to T.J. It was cool when he kissed Cami/forced her to go on dates with him/told her he loved her when she was with T.J. but how dare this other guy do it to him? Fuck off, Trent.]
Hot tears filled my eyes and ran down my cheeks in a continuous stream. “I didn’t even kiss him! Nothing happened!”
“Why are you crying? You’re crying over him? That’s just fucking great, Cami!”
Things get legitimately creepy. Like “I WILL MURDER FOR OUR LOVE” creepy.
“I’m done with him.” His voice turned low and frightening again. “He’s done with you.”
As opposed to all the other times when Trenton wasn’t being a horribly frightening person.
“Why don’t you tell him you’re with me?”
Trenton itched the tip of his nose with the back of his hand, and nodded. “Then it’s settled. The only way he’s going to stay away from you is if I beat his ass.”
Want more of Trenton implying he’s going to murder someone for love? Because there is no shortage of it.
“You’re going to play that card? Why are you protecting him? I don’t get it!”
“I’m not protecting him! I’m protecting you!” I said, shaking my head.
“I’m going to find him, Cami. I’m going to track him down, and when I find him…”
Now, it’s easy to feel bad for Cami – as well as all women in Jamie McGuire’s nightmare carnivals of abusive relationship – because how the hell do you get away from men like this? Men who literally stalk you and threaten the well-being of people based on their actions you have no control over, but on your behalf anyway, because of their misguided and obsessive misconceptions of love. So throughout these books, usually I feel nothing but horror for these female protagonists.
But there is a not-insignificant element of how Cami has some blame here, for keeping what is clearly – even if you don’t know what the twist is yet – an increasingly nonsensical secret.
I’d made promises to keep T.J.’ s secret, and to love Trenton. I couldn’t keep them both. I would meet with T.J. It was time to convince him to release me of that burden
As opposed to way, way earlier, when the scenario was literally the same, but before it had gone on so long that it’d be weird to explain the secret now.
But fear not! It’s not all melodrama and murder threats! There’s also Trenton acting like a little baby! You know, more so than usual. Because super inconveniently, T.J. texts Cami right then and there!
Trenton’s chest was heaving. He was getting emotional. He pitched my phone across the street, and then paced, stomping back and forth, with his hands on his hips.
This is a real thing happening in this book. Trenton throws Cami’s phone, puts his hands on his hands, and pouts.
“Go get it,” I said, my voice even.
He shook his head.
“Go get it!” I yelled, pointing toward the streetlamp.
Trenton Dreamboat Maddox, ladies and gentlemen.
Trenton goes to pick up the phone, and Cami uses the opportunity to run to her car to make an escape. Cami reminds us, again, of her predicament.
I couldn’t risk Trenton following me, and I couldn’t meet T.J. without making Trenton hate me.
Which is great, because these conditions are immediately ignored once Trenton somehow catches up to her moving car, opens the door, and gets in the passenger seat (which is just a whole other thing).
And then it hit me. I would just take him to T.J.
Anyway, you guys are familiar with Chekhov’s gun, right?
“Cami, if you want to take a drive, fine, but scoot over. I’ll drive you anywhere you need to go.”
Tune in tomorrow for the exciting conclusion, and why women should never drive! [Ariel says: I personally crashed my car at least 8 times while commenting on this post. My woman-brain!]