Title: Beautiful Wild
Author: Anna Godbersen
Pub. Date: November 3, 2020
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
You are invited to set sail on the maiden voyage of the SS Princess of the Pacific in this indulgent historical romance from Anna Godbersen, the New York Times bestselling author of the Luxe series.
Vida Hazzard can see her future: aboard the heralded “Millionaire’s Ship of the West,” she’ll charm the young scion Fitzhugh Farrar, resulting in a proposal of marriage.
But Vida didn’t plan on Fitz’s best friend, Sal, a rough-around-the-edges boy with a talent for getting under her skin. Nor did she anticipate a hurricane dashing their ship to pieces, along with her dreams.
Stranded on an island with both Fitz and Sal, Vida is torn between the life she’s always planned for, and a future she’s never dared to want. As they desperately plot a course for home, Vida will discover just which boy can capture her wild heart—and where her future truly lies.
This first part will be spoiler free – the second part is not. I have thoughts and opinions I need to rant about. The section will be clearly marked – so read at your own risk. I listened to the audiobook via Audible. I remember requesting this book on NetGalley because it sounded so good, and then was really bummed when I was denied. Now, having read the book, I can honestly say that my excitement was misplaced.
I really didn’t care for this book. I found so many things utterly absurd. I thought it was paced too fast, too many time jumps, but no real indicator of how much time actually passed. Vida’s character development was unbelievable – like, I didn’t believe it at all. Characters kept appearing in scenes of consequence, only to disappear and then reappear scenes later.
Overall, I just found it to be almost laughable – but this book infuriated me. The only reason I’m giving it 3 stars is because Sal was the most interesting character, and the premise could have been so good. But this isn’t a “sweeping romance” and the book really doesn’t play out like the synopsis says. I’m upset that I spent time reading this book. I felt like I was promised one thing, and it didn’t deliver at all.
This next part will be a spoiler section – read at own risk.
This will be relatively rant-y as I have a lot of thoughts and feelings – I need to vent.
Okay, I’m starting with a blanket statement that none of the characters really had any depth, they were pretty boring stereotype characters. Yes, I’m lumping Sal in there, but he’s a weak spot for me, and he’s slightly more endearing and likeable then legit all the other characters, so he gets a pass.
But let’s start with Vida. Omfg I couldn’t stand her. Her socialite persona that she crafted and created to stand out from the crowed was fucking obnoxious. The only time that I felt any kind of positive feeling for her, was right after they get stranded on an island and she’s having a mental breakdown. In those moments where she was just Vida and not some glammed up, constructed socialite version of herself.
Then there’s her whole character change that made no sense. After the whole Typhoon/tsunami event (I’ll circle back to this, because really?) she undergoes this almost instantaneous character change. She basically turns into Jane of the jungle and it made no sense. Within the span of I think three days, she’s suddenly G.I. Jane and a strong swimmer and capable of surviving on a deserted island? Unless this like a Bear Grylls type situation, I don’t fucking believe it. And her being able to fell a fucking wild boar ON THE FIRST TRY with a sharpened stick and a javelin throw – miss me with that shit.
Just no. I don’t believe a single moment of it.
Like, you’re stranded on an island, with really no reason to hope for a rescue and all these people are just going to stick to modern society’s rules and decorum? LOL NO. I’m sorry, if you put me on a deserted island, shipwrecked with a cute guy or two, we’ll be a la Captain Jack Sparrow-ing it up, singing tunes around a bonfire, flirting and maybe slinking off into the shadows.
The fact that they stayed in their fucking formal wear for however long they were on the island – you couldn’t pay me enough.
Fitz was a turd. I knew it from the beginning. He was too good to be true. Handsome, adventurous, charming…controlling – he wasn’t the prince Vida envisioned him to be.
And their whole fucking date on the island – I mean, can you get any more absurd and pretentious. The fact that he made the other survivors to be maids and butlers and a choir…like, okay your highness. This seriously irked me.
I get that pretending everything is still normal keeps hopes alive and could be a way of showing how humans can persevere through just about anything, but to waste time courting as if society were watching…
Vida is introduced as this girl who doesn’t necessarily care what society dictates to be proper behavior for young women. Vida makes a game at collecting men and proposals and turning them away. She’s unafraid to drink too much, kiss whomever and basically do whatever. And you’re telling me, she doesn’t take the opportunity with Fritz OR Sal to say “fuck it” to the rules while on a DESERTED ISLAND.
Sal was the bright spot in this whole book. He was calm, collected and made Vida question what she wants out of life, who she wants to be. But he’s rugged, knows who to survive and knows how to appreciate life. He finds high society ridiculous and he’s incredibly down to earth – just wants to travel and see all the places he can. The only dumb thing he honestly does, is stay on a crumbling cliff as it’s breaking away from the rock wall and then drops ten feet. HE COULD’VE MOVED.
But moving on – let’s talk about all the traumatic events in this book.
The Ship Sinks.
Another ship hits the SS Princess, ripping a huge hole in the hull. Somehow this other ship suffers no real damage. The SS Princess sinks somewhere between San Francisco and Hawaii.
Then the Hurricane.
Having gotten off the ship, Vida, Sal, Frtiz and like 30+ other survivors get tossed around in the lifeboat as the weather a hurricane. Also, hurricanes like, never happen on the West Coast, so idk why it’s even here. Go home.
The Survivors survive some unspecified time out on the open ocean – post Hurricane.
How? I don’t know. I don’t even know how long they spent in the boat, before arriving on the island.
Upon arriving on the island, they IMMEDIATELY get to work on how to survive.
The socialites don’t lift a finger. And while Sal and Fritz have some experience surviving in the wilderness – this all just happens so easily and conveniently.
I mentioned this before, but wtf.
Fritz and 2-3 others leave to go find help.
*crickets* this obviously isn’t going to end well, and Sal tries to get them to hold off because a storm is rolling in.
This makes me irrationally angry. Okay, tropical island, typhoon, fine. Tsunami…they don’t just *poof* into existence like it did in this book. Like, they aren’t an automatic feature of Typhoon’s. But you know, more convenient trauma for them to go through.
Typhoon/Tsunami appears to have wiped out the men trying to go get help. The sail they used washed back up on shore and now everyone is sad. Because of course this happened – but just wait.
Vida becomes Jane of the Jungle.
I mentioned this above, and it’s dumb. I don’t buy any of it. Starts to have feelings for Sal – they’re wonderful together.
Sike! Fritz isn’t dead!
Then everything goes back to “normal” but Vida is changed and isn’t who she was at the start of the book. The world of parties and ball and dealing with old money socialites isn’t what excites her anymore. So, she decides to call of her engagement with Fritz (not that he ever actually asked her, the assshole), and decides to travel the world to find Sal. He left knowing that he couldn’t watch her marry Fritz when he had feeling for her.
So, assuming that this book takes place around the time of the Titanic (I’m operating under the assumption that this book is like an alt history version of the Titanic – because again, not specified) – a woman wouldn’t be traversing the globe in 1912 by herself. It wouldn’t happen. And the fact that she just happens to stumble upon him in the Mediterranean – again, miss me with that shit.
I could sit here all-night ranting about this book and much it disappointed me. But for now, I feel better having been able to get all my issues with it off my chest.