Review of Beautiful Bastard by Christina Lauren
About the review (background on why I said what I said in the review)
I didn’t go into this in my review, because it’s been SO LONG since the Twilight phenom, the fan fiction craze that followed, and the subsequent Fifty Shades of Gray (FSOG) craze afterwards, that most people know what happened, how they feel, etc. And with the original version of Beautiful Bastard garnering more than 2 million reads online during that time, I’m sure most people that read Beautiful Bastard have their views on its place in all of this.
HOWEVER, I will say it here:
I’m not the audience for Twilight. (The only part of the Twilight audience that I would identify with is the part who loves love stories.) So, I knew next to nothing about the vampire series until the movies were released. I always like to read a book first before I go see its film adaptation, and after reading it, I knew then that this wasn’t for me. As a reader, Twilight had some key problems that I couldn’t get around. When FSOG was gifted to me, I thought okay, maybe an adult version would be more suited for me.
It was not.
While Beautiful Bastard was an okay book, I appreciate more what it spawned: a subsequent collection of wonderfully done titles by Christina Lauren. And part of that collection is what I read first. I especially loved My Favorite Half-Night Stand (see review). I guess that’s why I was glad to discover Beautiful Bastard when I did: years after Twilight and FSOG, without knowing it was fanfic beforehand, and after reading other CL books that prove how great these ladies are at creating a contemporary romcom.
As a writer, you go through constant query rejection and criticism just to get your book out there, and if you do manage to publish, you’re hit with mediocre sales, having to self-market (even if you are traditionally published), a field flooded with supply (so much competition most great books don’t even get seen), losing award contests, 1-star reviews, no reviews, and predatory Amazon algorithms. It’s hard not to hate an author when they get the sales and recognition that “something better” or “something more original” should have gotten. But success is really the luck of the draw for most authors that aren’t celebrities.
Tweens and teens loved Twilight. I don’t really know why. Their moms wanted an adult version, and a few of those moms decided to write one. Out comes fan fiction like Beautiful Bastard and Fifty Shades of Gray. How did FSOG get more up-front attention and a quicker movie deal than BB? One will never know. This is the lucky part.
So if you haven’t heard of CL’s Beautiful series, but have definite negative feelings toward Twilight, put your judgement aside for a moment to give this series a try, even if you don’t read the first book (which is the only one in the series that’s really Twilight fanfic).
What I had to say about Twilight and FSOG back in the day
Readers: what did you think about all of this Twilight “controversy”? What do you think about fan fiction in general? COMMENT BELOW
My FRIDAY FUN Review of Beautiful Bastard (2019)Beautiful Bastard by Christina Lauren
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
So, I’m LIGHT-YEARS behind the gossip about/reviews of/hype about this book. If you’re new to this book (I’m not going to say series, because I think this book stands alone in the series as twi-hard fanfic), and you’ve read Twilight (T) or 50 shades of gray (FSOG), and you’re thinking…. hmm familiar…. check out these 2 articles from EW to give you some background:
Book deal announcement and background–read first
Cover reveal and background
So this review is going to be a little different than what I usually do.
About Me (I swear it will be short!)–Feelings about, T, FSOG, fanfic, why am I reading this?
1) I did not like T or FSOG for various reasons. I 1-starred both of them here. 2) I don’t like “fan fiction.” There’s “inspired by” (we as writers are always inspired by someone or something), which is an original story created from a specific unoriginal idea/concept, and then there’s “fan fiction” which is basically a book remix. Except in the publishing world (unlike the music world), original authors don’t get royalties from fan fiction. And in the case of FSOG, Twilight didn’t even get recognized as canon, and the whole situation tried to get downplayed. 3) So why read this? Long story short, I picked up Beautiful Stranger in the library, loved that book, realized there was a BB1 and picked it up.
About the Book itself
There’s a lot of sex here. A lot. And a lot of panty-ripping. And a lot of smirking. And a lot of “I hate you. Let’s have sex.” But not much actual story, and the character arcs are kind of shallow. It’s pretty exhausting by the end, to be honest. I don’t really like Bennett Ryan (now, I know why), and something about Chloe is kind of off, too. I kind of wanted to ask her a couple of times, “Is he sexually harassing you?” because the level of hatred between them seemed to be animosity-level at times instead of heated lustful back-and-forth. Also, I’ve worked in an office most of my life, and no one can keep THIS level of crazy under wraps like they “seem” to be doing here. But aside from all that, this is well-written (aside from the smirking) and a page turner, which makes it entertaining.
So if you’ve got all that negativity, why even give it 3 stars?/Comparison to T and FSOG
For these reasons:
1) The writing–as a first Adult novel–is well done. These ladies can put sentences together correctly, they know how to effectively create POV and voice, they understand vocabulary, and compared to T, this has much better writing. (FSOG doesn’t even rate as far as writing is concerned.)
2) They made an entertaining story out of some boring YA. T was wildly popular, even before the movies came out. I don’t know why. But it was. So, of course the T phenomenon once we saw Bella and Edward on screen would lead to this “we-want-more-so-let’s-create-it-ourselves-for-ourselves (adults)” fanfic craze. Christina Lauren did a decent job making a story with the T characters and concepts, and it didn’t bore us or make us want to projectile vomit. That’s a win.
3) Chloe–while not great– is better than Bella. Chloe knows she’s good at what she does, she knows she’s got great taste (even if she has more hookups than cash), and she obviously loves herself. Everyone loves Bella, except Bella. Notice that? Not a good role model for a young girl, but for an adult reading T, it’s just a turn-off. Here, I can stomach Chloe.
4) What has come after BB from Christina Lauren has been a treat so far! Unlike T and FSOG, part 2 of this series was a delight to read. And other adult books CL have written since then that I’ve read have been true pleasures. So if it took a little meh fanfic to get them on the Adult map (they were already bloggers and YA authors before this) and get them to the wonderful books they’re writing now, I’m all for it!
Aside from the Book/Reviews/Overall:
It’s not T or FSOG, and that’s a good thing, because those suck. And while I am not a fan of fanfiction, I love how Christina Lauren own up to the fact that this was Twilight fanfic. After all, that’s how it garnered its interest! Unlike FSOG’s author: E L James on Wendy Williams Show 2019 downplaying and avoiding the subject. Beautiful Bastard does have its negatives, but considering how I feel about T, I know that I have a predilection to be biased against it. I’m not going to let that blind me to some of the positives in this book.
Some reviewers had some pretty strong negative reviews about this one. At the time (with no other CL adult books out there and 2 versions of THIS book floating around–one the rework and one the fanfic original), I might have been that way, too. But I see a bigger picture that makes me view this one so-so story in a better light than I might have otherwise. Overall, it’s an okay first effort, but since I know these get better, I’m sticking with the series.
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