I really, really wanted to love this book. Don’t get me wrong; it’s got the makings of a great book: a good plotline, interesting characters, and a good set-up for sequels. However, it kind of fell short for me overall.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Maia wants to be free. Free from the social obligations, free from the money, free from the control that her privileged upbringing has taken from her life. And at college, she wants to be unseen, unheard, unnoticed.
Jackson's life has been less than perfect since his high school girlfriend took the back door out of his life, permanently. After years of subscribing to an existence of less than gentlemanly behaviour, he decides to man up and go to college, promising to be done with random hook ups and female drama.
They had it all worked out, each one had a plan.
At least they did...until they met.
Together they run from everything; from life, from happiness, from each other. They are two people both so scared; of heartbreak, of repeating past mistakes, of trusting someone else. Two people simply scared of beautiful...
Please note: Scared of Beautiful is recommended for mature audiences 18+ due to sexual content and language
Let’s start with the basics. Scared of Beautiful is written from two first-person POVs: Jackson’s and Maia’s. They’re the main characters in Scared of Beautiful and I must say that I enjoyed how they’re both unique characters in their own right. The thing I hate the most about multiple POV novels is that sometimes, although the narratives come from different persons, the way it was written stays the same. Jacqueline Abrahams was able to capture Maia and Jackson’s personality separately and present them as two distinct characters.
I had trouble connecting to the characters at first, though. Maia comes of as aloof–okay, bitchy–which is understandable given her circumstances. Her not-so-ideal home life pushed Maia to get away from all that drama and enjoy the freedom that comes with living on her own while in college. She might seem put-together on the outside but it turns out that this has become her defense mechanism. Maia erected an impenetrable emotional wall, distancing herself from the turmoil that constantly batters her from all sides. She cannot afford to let her guard down and this makes Maia seem detached and indifferent as a character.
From a reader’s perspective, it was kind of difficult to figure her out. Because as much as she shuts out the other characters in the story, it feels like she’s also shutting out the reader, as well. The way her narrative was written, well, it kind of felt stiff. After a few chapters in though, we get to see what Maia is like behind that façade she hides behind. I liked what I saw. She’s sassy and funny, a take-no-shit kind of girl. But there are also times when I couldn’t stand her, like when she’s all hoity-toity and elitist about her social status. She’s rich, I get it, but it just didn’t sit well with me how she just waves it around like nobody’s business. Honestly? It really comes off as obnoxious.
Then here comes, Jackson. One thing I can say about him is he’s Maia’s exact opposite. Where Maia comes off as kind of standoffish, Jackson is all cocky and self-assured. He’s hot and he knows it; not to mention the fact that he knows how to use his good looks to get the ladies. I kind of hated him at first because he’s got that whole asshole-y vibe going on. Not the bad-boy kind that makes girls swoon, but I hated how he acted all douche-y in the beginning. That side of him is offset by his naturally charming personality. I finally found him tolerable once he started pursuing Maia (oh, c’mon, you all knew that was coming). As arrogant as he was initially portrayed, I loved the contradiction of how sweet and endearingly sensitive he can really be when he lets his guard down. Because let’s face it, both Jackson and Maia have some awful skeletons in their closets and they hide these skeletons in their own way.
At first, I seriously could not understand what brought them together. The purely chemical attraction was there for sure but aside from that? I don’t know.
Case in point:
"Maia makes me feel alive again, which is some crazy shit to admit given that I’ve known her for such a short while and most of that time, she’s been, well, a bit of a bitch."
It was also interesting to see how Maia and Jackson explore their attraction and connection to each other not even a week after meeting each other. I guess the novel stays true to life about the culture of casual hook ups and dating someone you just met. It was even more interesting to see them navigate their barely-there relationship in spite of all the shit in their lives. And that was a lot of shit.
Even though I kind have mixed emotions about Scared of Beautiful, one thing is for sure: it sure does pack one whopper of an emotional punch. It does not pull any punches when it comes to the gut wrenching moments and it hits readers deep. It’s just ridiculous how the characters found themselves in such a messed up situation. They've both got demons they’re running away from and it all comes to a head in one mindblowing moment. Even so, what kept Scared of Beautiful from being a really awesome book was how some key events in the plot fell flat. I think it could have been placed better because the way it was written kind of put it in the background when it could have been an explosive revelation. There was this one scene with Maia’s mother and father in their penthouse suite… there was a big secret that was revealed but it felt like an afterthought. Y’know, like a tiny poof when it could have been a bang! I really think it could have been presented better.
Scared of Beautiful was well-written for the most part. It was descriptive and immersive but kind of inconsistent. I have a bit of an issue with some of the words used like “eventuate” or “annunciating”. This is still an NA novel, after all, and given the over-all tone of the writing and the theme of the novel, I think there were more suitable words that could have been used instead. Some parts felt too formal and stuffy which didn’t really work well with the rest of the writing. The pacing could use a bit more work. I found several parts of the story (especially in the beginning) too dragging.
All in all, Jacqueline Abrahams presents a decent start to the Scared Series. Not half-bad for a debut novel! Definitely keeping my eye out for the next book.