Even though there are so many bad books Matt and I want to write about, Jamie McGuire’s shit shows hold a special place in my heart. Say what you want about them, but in the wise words of my blog partner in crime, “Jamie McGuire is weirdly solid for our purposes. Consistently shit, but sort of readable.”
Thank God there are more Maddox books in the pipeline, and she’s got some other series that I’m interested in looking into. But I mean, I really miss the House of Night and Bared to You series in a way that I can’t fully articulate or understand. What a masochist I am.
I deeply apologise for the length of this post. Feel free to grab a snack. Also, I put in more gifs than usual to help detract from all those pesky words.
Beautiful Oblivion Chapter 25 (Part 2)
When we left off, Trent told Cami to pull over and that he’d drive her anywhere she needed to go. It was actually really difficult to find the exact spot in the chapter where Matt ended his post because there are roughly 30 occasions in this scene where Trent says something along these lines. [Matthew says: Chekhov’s gun! Chekhov’s gun! Hi, I’m Chekhov! Have you seen my gun! It is my gun! It is a gun that belongs to me, Chekhov! Pow! Chekhov’s gun!]
But find the exact moment I did, and here is what immediately follows. I know you’ve been waiting with baited breath!
“I shook my head. “You’re going to find out. And when you do, it’s going to ruin everything.”
Trenton frowned. “Find what out? Ruin what?”
I turned to him. “I’m going to tell you. I want to tell you. But not right now.”
This seems like a good a time as any. I mean, you’ve gone and set it up to be an incredibly difficult task, Cami, but why not now?
It starts to make even less sense when Cami agrees to let Trent drive her to T.J., which will lead to him finding out the Big Secret. I know Matt was pretending we don’t know what the twist is, but we fucking do, and I can’t not talk about it this chapter. Especially because this seems like a really mean way for Trent to find out that T.J. is his fucking brother. [Matthew says: Also a really mean way for Trent to find out that his girlfriend’s ex is his fucking brother: literally any time that was not her first opportunity to be honest about it. ]
They argue more about driving. Because for some reason even though Trent hasn’t even brought up the accident that sparked this whole fear of women driving since that one time they talked about it, it is suddenly the driving force of this chapter. [Matthew says: HA. DRIVING. I see what you did there.]
Trenton was still tapping my window. “Look at me, baby.”
I took a deep breath, pushed the gear up into first, and then lifted my head, looking forward.
“Cami, you can’t drive like this . . . Cami!”
Honestly, Trenton is the one who has been way more emotional this chapter than Cami. Why is he in a better position to drive? [Matthew says: Yeah, wait a second! You’re totally right! Trenton spends the whole chapter whining and pouting and throwing other people’s property, but then a woman gets behind the wheel of a car and BAM whoa baby be cool let’s take a step back here] Does his penis grant him soothing powers that activate the moment he gets behind the wheel of a car? If so that’s amazing and I would like a penis too, please.
I pulled into the street and headed west. I had no plan to get to T.J., and now that Trenton was in the car, I really didn’t know what to do. And then it hit me. I would just take him to T.J. Get it all out in the open. T.J. had brought this on himself. If he had left me alone, I wouldn’t be in this position. But I needed to give Trenton time to cool off, first. I needed to drive.
See what I mean? Why is it better not to tell Trenton in the car right now? Neither of them has to drive while they’re having an attack of the feelings, and Cami can give Trenton a minute to process all of said feelings. [Matthew says: Because god knows if anyone in this book has feelings, it’s Trenton.]
Also, why the fuck has T.J. insisted on keeping this a secret (and it must have been off-screen, because I can’t even remember him saying anything about this.) [Matthew says: More importantly, why the fuck has Cami insisted on keeping it? Sure, I get the general principle of keeping someone’s secret, but the secret is just that her ex is her new boyfriend’s brother. SURELY, this information is just as much her right to share or not share as it is his. What gives him absolute authority over this information.]
More arguing about who is driving – seriously, it’s 90% of the dialogue this chapter – until Trenton’s fears about women driving is completely validated…for some reason. [Matthew says: Because of the patriarchy!]
“You won’t lose me, Camille. I swear to Christ, but you’re all over the goddamn road! We’re on the edge of town, and will hit dirt road soon. Pull the fuck over!”
In that moment, a pair of glowing lights converged into one. I barely caught a glimpse of it from the corner of my eye, and then my head hit the window, smashing the glass into a thousand tiny pieces. Some of the shards flew outward, but most fell into my lap, or floated in the cab of the Jeep as it slid across the intersection and into a ditch on the other side. Time stood still for what seemed like several minutes, and then we were airborne as the Jeep began to roll. Once. Twice. And then I lost count, because everything went black.
And then she died, and at the funeral Trenton realized T.J. was HIS BROTHER THOMAS. I’m so sorry you guys. That’s not what happened at all. This scene just makes me so angry because it’s just a way to get Cami into the hospital for ~dramatic effect~. But mostly so Trenton CAN FIND OUT WHO T.J. IS OFF SCREEN BEFORE IT IS REVEALED TO THE READER. [Matthew says: Because you hadn’t read enough of this book utterly perplexed what this secret is and why it’s making people act without any rhyme or reason.]
Yes, because while Cami is unconscious, T.J. fucking shows up and talks to Trenton. Cami wakes up and she and T.J. have a fucking CONFUSING AS SHIT conversation when the reader is still supposed to be completely in the dark about what is going on. We don’t even get to see Trenton’s reaction to the big reveal, which I weirdly feel robbed of. I think I just wanted him for like a second to realize he was being a shit to his brother. [Matthew says: And also that they’re now also eskimo brothers.]
Anyway, Cami wakes up and notices the Super Important Plot Device Cast.
His left arm was over my legs, the other was propped between the bed and his chair, wrapped in a thick, lime-green cast. There were already several signatures on it. Travis had signed his name under a short note that simply said, “Pussy.” Another was from Hazel with a perfect impression of her bright red lipstick. Abby Abernathy signed it with “Mrs. Maddox.”
“It’s like a little guest book. Trent hasn’t left your side, so everyone who’s visited you has signed his cast.”
Firstly, puke, Abby. But glad we didn’t have to see you or Travis. Or Hazel for that matter. [Matthew says: What does Travis’s “Pussy” even mean? Is he calling her a pussy for getting into a car accident? Is he taking the opportunity while signing her cast to remind her of all the pussy that he gets? Does Travis have Tourette’s now?] Secondly, fuck this plot device cast, seriously.
I narrowed my eyes, barely making out T.J. sitting in a chair in a dark corner of the room. I looked back down at the cast. All of Trenton’s brothers had signed, his dad Jim, my mom, and all of my brothers. Even Calvin’s and Bishop’s names were there.
[Matthew says: And yet Raegan and Kody have not signed his cast. Cami (and the reader!) had to sit through ALL OF RAEGAN’S SHIT with her dating her ex until she could wear a dress to a party, and she doesn’t even show up WHEN CAMI IS IN THE HOSPITAL? Yet another notable entry in BBGT’s list of worst best friends ever.]
Please note, T.J. is here. Trenton now knows T.J.=Thomas, but the reader still does not know because Jamie McGuire is masturbating so hard right now over this terrible, terrible twist. It is a twist that ONLY WORKS IN THIS BOOK BECAUSE WE CANNOT VISUALLY SEE T.J. Imagine if this were a movie. I get that it’s not, but walk with me for a moment. We would have already seen Thomas in Beautiful/Walking Disaster. We would have known the “twist” the moment we saw him in California (which, fine, a surprise in the middle of a book or movie can be super exciting). But Trenton still wouldn’t have known. Therefore, Trenton’s reaction to this whole thing after we have the initial “shock” of seeing that T.J.=Thomas is potentially the most interesting thing to happen, and we don’t even get that because for some reason shocking the pants off the reader is the most important thing. Not the story or anything silly like that, just trying really hard to surprise us.
This whole book hasn’t been a love story (albeit a shit one), it’s just been about keeping something this fucking ridiculous from the reader in ways that don’t even make sense. The acrobatics this book had to go through to keep the secret is astonishing.
Cami talks to T.J., and we find out that it’s actually not her emotional woman-brain that got them into an accident, but a male!
“What happened?” I asked.
“A drunk male ran the stop sign going about sixty. He fled the scene, but he’s in custody now. Trenton carried you over a mile to the closest house.”
Thank you for clarifying it was a male who caused the accident, and that Trenton is a Romantic Hero.
My eyebrows pulled together as I looked at Trenton. “With a broken arm?”
[Matthew says: Even Cami’s calling bullshit on this book.]
“Broken in two places. I don’t know how he did it. Must have been pure adrenaline. They had to put that cast on in your room in the ER. He refused to leave you. Even for a second. Even for the CAT scan. The nurses are all in love.”
Good thing I was all puked out when Abby signed her name “Mrs. Maddox.” I never thought that scene would come in handy for anything, but it looks like my tolerance for absolute, fluffy bullshit has increased dramatically. [Matthew says: What a guy, that Trenton Maddox! His love is so strong he carried her from a car crash that HE WAS IN, and with a broken arm and massive penis to boot!]
T.J. reveals that everyone knows the truth now (but still not us), but that no one knows the truth about him and what he does, and he has to keep it that way (remember, Thomas is FBI. He prob wields like 30 glocks at once.) [Matthew says: SECRET NUMBER 2: MADDOX BOOGALOO.]
I looked down, feeling a sob well up in my throat. “Then why is he here?”
“The same reason I’m here. Because he loves you.”
A tear fell down my cheek. “I didn’t mean to . . .”
T.J. shook his head. “I know, honey. Don’t cry. It’s going to be okay.”
“Is it? Now that everyone knows, how could it ever be anything but awkward, and tense, and . . .”
“Because it’s us. We’ll handle it.”
This conversation would have been so much more effective if the reader knew what was going on at this point. I mean, most people would probably have figured it out by now (except a lot of people on Tumblr for some reason. There might be an important correlation there.)
More importantly, if this were so easily resolved, why couldn’t T.J. have talked to Trenton sooner? Why did all this have to happen if it was so neatly resolved in a mere 6 lines?
In some ways, I thank McGuire for not making this happen in the middle of the book, because I don’t think she would have written any sort of fallout in a compelling way. In the hands of a better writer, I could see that being an interesting and legitimate obstacle that ultimately doesn’t stop the romantic leads from being together and they do find a way to move forward. I’m sure in this book, though, it would have just had Trenton yelling and crying a lot whilst throwing overturning various pieces of furniture.
Still, though, that scenario might have actually been preferable to Cami insisting this revelation will have devastating consequences only to find that the guy who supposedly asked that she not reveal this secret is actually like, “Everything will be totes fine because we’re all such amazing, reasonable people, as evidenced by nothing that has happened previously in this entire series.”
Trenton wakes up just in time to join the party.
T.J. still stood behind him, watching Trenton’s display of affection with a pained smile. Trenton turned around, sensing someone was behind him.
“Hey,” Trenton said. He stood. “I, uh . . . I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay. She doesn’t belong to me anymore. I’m not sure she ever did.”
Look, I have no problem whatsoever with a couple saying things like, “You’re mine” or what have you when it’s said in non-terrifying or creepy contexts. This to me comes off as very creepy. It feels like Trenton and T.J. are discussing a farm animal and not someone they’re both in love with. What if, crazy thought, he just said, “She wants to be with you.” Instead, we have to have one man bestow his prized possession upon another man. [Matthew says: On the other hand, Jamie McGuire would make a just few small tweaks and she has a perfectly competent story about two children arguing over a puppy! “Just a few small tweaks” is how she writes all her books anyway, so she should probably look into this.
The men-folk continue to discuss Cami as though she’s not there, with Trenton insisting that he loves Cami and he’s “not fucking around.” Well, I guess if he’s not fucking around all my concerns have completely evaporated.
But then they remember Cami is in the room and that she’s a human being. Sort of.:
“I know,” T.J. said. “I’ve seen the way you look at her.”
“So are we cool?” Trenton asked.
T.J.’s brows pulled together as he looked at me, but he spoke to Trenton. “What does she want?”
He can’t even directly ask Cami what she wants…even though she has explicitly told him before she wants to be with Trenton (for some reason.) The Maddox bros sure are fucking stupid, aren’t they? Moral of this whole damn story.
Cami apologizes to Trent for keeping a secret. I, however, am still waiting for my apology gift basket.
My lip quivered. “I lied to you.”
He shook his head. “For reasons that have nothing to do with me. Or us.”
THEN WHAT THE FUCK DID THE REASONS HAVE TO DO WITH? I guess keeping a secret to protect Trenton’s feels/his relationship with his brother/his love for Cami have nothing to do with him in some alternate universe that I have not have the pleasure of visiting? Matt please get the fuck in here and write a “what if other books have been written this way” because I need that to calm the raging tide of fury and hatred and anger inside of me. [Matthew says: Oh, if I must.]
- Harry’s lip quivered. “You killed my parents to gain immortality?”
“For reasons that have nothing to do with me,” Voldemort said. “Or racism.”
- “If it bleeds… we can kill it.” Dutch said.
“For reasons that have nothing to do with your survival!” said the Predator.
“RAIGHT.” Dutch said. “FOR SCIANCE.”
- “My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prep-”
“For reasons that have nothing to do with me being an asshole! You’re an asshole. You. You were a real asshole toddler, you know that?”
You can totes write your own! Just think of the plot of a book, and have someone say that they did stuff for the opposite of that!]
T.J. and Trenton hug, T.J. agrees to back off fo realz this time and leave the happy couple alone because Cami has confirmed, yet again, that she wants to be with Trenton. Which for some reason we had to establish just one last time. [Matthew says: Well, DUR. Obviously. None of this book would have happened if people actually did things according to what a woman says she WANTS.
Seriously. None of it. Think about that for a second. For a very, very depressing second.]
Trenton puffed out a sigh of relief, and then squeezed my hand. “It all makes sense, now.”
WUT. Is McGuire trying to make me cry? This line is especially painful because it makes me feel like if Trenton Maddox understands what’s going on, then I really should too.
Trenton also justifies everything that’s happened by trying to convince Cami and us that he’s been in love with her since they were kids, so he actually had basically called dibs on her before his brother did.
“Because I’ve been in love with you since grade school, Chamomile. And everyone knew it. Everyone.”
“I’m still not sure I believe that.”
Thank you for having my back in this one instance, Cami. But then five seconds later she goes and agrees to move in with Trenton, so I give up on this woman.
Some boring filler happens where a nurse shows up to remind everyone how amazing and romantic Trenton is. And then the ending. It’s time, everyone.
Trenton’s cast was between us, and I ran my finger over the different names, thinking about all of the people who loved us that had come to my room. I paused when I came across T.J.’s signature, and silently said a final good-bye to the simple but sophisticated scribble.
Thomas James Maddox
That’s it. That’s how the book fucking ends. And it thinks it’s this amazing mic drop, but it’s not. It’s more like crickets chirping and then stopping immediately because they don’t want to be a part of this.
When I first read that final line, I’d already guessed the “twist”, but I’d still been so confused and annoyed by the whole preceding scene where T.J./Thomas is in the room with them, but Cami still finds a way as a narrator to avoid telling us this important piece of information.
[Matthew says: And just once more, in case we haven’t quite made clear how stupid it is that this book mixed up “exciting twist ending” and “basic plot information…
“I wondered if I would be seeing you here, Professor McGonagall.”
McGonagall stepped forward.
“Have you heard the rumors? Are they true? The Potters?”
“Yes, McGonagall, it’s all true. Lily and James Potter, dead. And their young boy Harry survived.”
“Against the Dark Lord? How?”
“Nobody knows. Anyway, let’s go drop off this totally unrelated other orphan boy on his aunt and uncle’s doorstep.”
Eleven Years later!
“Oh, Dudley!” Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon oh dudleyed. “We love you super duper much you special boy! Fuck off, HP. There is nothing special about you. Nothing. You don’t even have a secret past.”
Suddenly the door slammed open and a giant man appeared.
“Where is HP? I have a letter for him from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.”
“I… I am.” Said a small boy with scruffy hair covering his forehead and obscuring anything that might have been an identifiable feature on his forehead.
“Here you are! By the way, my name is Hagrid.”
Hagrid handed HP a letter. HP read the letter and knew it was true, because it had his full name in it, rather than his nickname that everybody called him sometimes.
“Let’s go teach you how to be a wizard!”
“Yay!” HP said as he left behind his adoptive family forever. “I bet there’s nothing else unique about me!”
But he was wrong.
A few days later!
“Hagrid,” HP said. “Why do so so many wizards seem to know me?”
“Well,” Hagrid said. “Eleven years ago-”
That’s how old I am! HP thought. What a coincidence!
“There was an evil wizard, named Voldemort. He was super evil and murdered people and was wizard racist. Then one day he tried to murder a boy named Harry Potter. But he failed, and the spell backfired and killed him. Nobody knows why, nor does anybody know why Harry Potter survived, but was left with a lightning-shaped scar on his forehead.”
“Wow,” HP thought, while thinking about nothing in particular, especially not his forehead. “What a story. Is Voldemort dead?”
“No, I don’t think so.” Hagrid said mysteriously. “I bet he’s still out there, waiting to reek his revenge on Harry Potter.”
“Aw snap,” HP said. “That’s gonna suck. For Harry Potter.”
Another few days later!
HP was on the train and looking for a seat.
“You can sit here.” Said a young boy with red hair. “My name is Ron.”
HP told him his name too and Ron was very excited. Probably to have a new friend lol idk
“I’m in this book too,” said a girl who walked by them. “My name is Hermione.”
Hermione learned Ron and HP’s names and they all became friends with no secrets whatsoever.
Except for Hermione and Ron and HP. They know the secret. But there is a secret.
Quite a while later!
HP was in a secret room of the castle, trying to rescue the sorcerer’s stone from a man that Voldemort had possessed (it’s a long story).
“I will kill you now, you!” said the man, who was possessed by a man who had an intense hatred of Harry Potter.
“Yes, it is time for my revenge!” Said Voldemort. “Once we can get the Stone out of this mirror.”
HP looked into the mirror and looked at his forehead and thought of his secret and knew what to do. Then he got the stone and defeated Voldemort.
A few days later!
HP woke up in the hospital, overhearing voices.
“Wow, I can’t believe what Harry Potter did! Harry Potter! Imagine that! That’s a real swell guy, that Harry Potter.”
“Where am I?” HP said.
“I am Professor Dumbledore,” said an old wizard. “You are in the hospital. I bet you have a lot of questions.”
“Yes,” HP said. “How was I able to defeat Voldemort?”
“Well,” Professor Dubmledore said. “Because Harry Potter is a special guy!”
“Wow,” said HP, who understood why this information was a relevant response in the conversation he was having.
“I bet you’ll be out of bed and back learning wizard magic soon! I will leave you with this present from your dead father.”
Dumbledore left and thought of his father and how he died and opened the present. It was an invisibility cloak. HP read the card from Dumbledore.
Dear Harry Potter.
There was foreshadowing all along that T.J.=Thomas, and here are my favourites in list form.
- They both have sexy, tight “backsides”.
- On T.J.: “He would have to wake up in a few minutes to get ready for work, and I would get a great view of his tight backside as he crawled out of bed. ”
- On Trenton: “I moved my hand from his front to his backside, and gripped his tight ass with both hands, pushing him even deeper into my mouth. “
- The weird references to Spaceballs. Remember how Cami had a copy and Trenton kept saying he always watched it with his brother. OMG IT WUZ THOMAS ALL ALONG.
- The letter “T”. What started as a joke became truth. All men whose names begin with the letter “T” could potentially be a Maddox.
- Of course T.J. would show up to harass Cami, he’s a Maddox. Completely in-character. I would expect nothing else.
If you can think of any other tiny hints that were peppered throughout the book (besides all the vague statements Cami’s friends made), please share!