Sep 7

The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks | Book and Movie Review

The-Notebook-by-Nicholas-Sparks-Book-ReviewThis was my very first exposure to Nicholas Sparks’s writing, although I have seen a couple of movies (Safe Haven & The Best of Me) that are based on his books. While ‘Safe Haven’ was a pleasant watch, I really loved ‘The Best of Me’, which in-spite of a disagreeable end,  left quite an impression on me.

This made me very curious about his books. I felt that if the movies were this good, the books must be really REALLY great. However, I was unsure about where to start with this author, as there is so much hype surrounding several of his books, and I did not want to read the ones that I had seen on screen. SO, I stuck to my mantra (which I use while starting with an author new to me) – ‘When in doubt, pick the debut’, which brings me to this review.

The plot of this book is based on two teenagers from opposite sides of the tracks, who meet and fall in love over summer break, but due to certain unfavourable situations, get separated once the summer is over. What follows next, is a poignant tale about two people who try to recapture the love that they once shared, in-spite of the passage of time and the altered circumstances.

Now, if we consider my positive experiences with the movies based on his books, and all the hype around the author, this book has been a relative letdown.

To be fair, I thought the first part of the book was pretty good. If the book had ended at the point where the lovers reunite, it would have been a really great short story. Instead, right at the point where a typical climax would take place, the whole story skips almost half a century, and starts poking the reader really hard with the crying stick, which admittedly, was pretty effective, but left me feeling cheated out of a really great climax. There’s a reason why love stories usually end with a wedding, you know!

Also, there is not much chemistry between the two lead characters. Sparks relies on TELLING us (frequently!) how his characters burn for each other. That is not CHEMISTRY, that is a SUMMARY. Unfortunately, this was a consistent theme in the book – the constant telling and not showing, and this made it a tedious read for me.

Moreover, there was a scene in the book, where Allie returns to Noah, after supposedly having walked out on him forever. I would have expected this reunion to be played out extremely well, by the ‘King of Romance’ or whatever it is that they call Sparks these days. Instead, this was Noah’s response to the love of his life coming back to him —> “How about some coffee?” Yes. That was all. Need I say more?

I understand that Noah is the strong, silent type, but one would think, this would be an occasion enough to warrant some precious words/reaction out of him. He was  possibly doing happy cartwheels in his mind, but I guess we would never know.

This book also made me realize something about myself as a reader. As much as I love romances, this extremely simple, sugary sweet kind is not my style. Sparks writes of a perfect love, and at times perfection can be very boring to read.  

But I wouldn’t hold that against the book, because that is just my personal preference. There will be loads of people who love exactly this kind of romance, and who will adore this book for it.

What I DO hold against the book, is the very last page.  I felt that it cheapened the great love that the book spoke about.

Rating: 3 / 5 *

*All 3 stars are for the first half of the book, and some lovely quotes.

P.S. I know you Sparks lovers are holding rotten tomatoes in your hands. I can see them from here. You can throw them now. *Heads over to get her shield* 😛

My Favorite Quotes/Lines from the Book:

“I am nothing special, of this I am sure. I am a common man with common thoughts and I’ve led a common life. There are no monuments dedicated to me and my name will soon be forgotten, but I’ve loved another with all my heart and soul, and to me, this has always been enough.”

“She wanted something else, something different, something more. Passion and romance, perhaps, or maybe quiet conversations in candlelit rooms, or perhaps something as simple as not being second.”

“Poetry, she thought, wasn’t written to be analyzed; it was meant to inspire without reason, to touch without understanding.”

Book Links: The Notebook (Amazon) | The Notebook (Flipkart)

Book vs Movie Comparison

Note: I saw the movie, as the movie adaptations had brought me to his books in the first place. I wanted to get a feel of how his books translate on the  big screen, and as I haven’t read ‘The Best of Me’ and ‘Safe Haven’, this was the only one I could compare across both mediums.

There isn’t very many times I say this, but the movie was light years better than the book (and I am not even that big a fan of the movie).

There were quite a few things that I liked about the movie, but mostly the fact that the characters had real spunk and passion. The romance between the teenagers was built up well, and the story just flowed better. The reunion scene that bummed me out in the book, was played out better in the cinematic version. The movie also had some amazing scenes and sequences which were totally missing in the book, and the whole time that I was watching the movie,  I kept thinking, how did the movie get such great scenes out of THAT book?

However, the main difference between the book and the movie was the ending. As that would be a big spoiler for this review, I will not provide a detailed account, but let me just say that I felt that the ending in the movie was much MUCH more appropriate for this storyline.

Movie Rating: 3.5/5

You can check out the movie here: The Notebook (Amazon) 

Have you read the book or seen the movie? Care to share your thoughts? Do you agree that the movie ending was better and more appropriate for the story line? Or are you the one with the tomatoes? 😛 *Secures shield in place* 😉

Lots of Love

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  1. Oh I agree. How I agree. This is my exact grudge with Sparks – too sweet. Sometimes I feel he writes for effect – an in specifically to make people cry. That effort is so visible (at least to me) that it takes away from the romance and the poignancy.

  2. I haven’t watched the movie. I have read the book though, as a teenager. And at that age, it seemed perfect!
    If I had to read it now, maybe my opinion would be similar to yours.:)

  3. Not a huge fan of Sparks, maybe I’m too cynical for my own good, the love in his novels seems too good to be true 😛
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  4. Thank God, I’m not the only one! Sparks sweet sugary style is just not my type. I love the movie though, which made me pick up the book, and I was so disappointed that have never read Sparks again!
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  5. Watched the movie, loved it. Ok, love is a strong word. Really liked it.

    Have not read the book and now I am not tempted to, thanks to your review. Told you before I am not a fan of romance novels as such. Sugary sweet will definitely not rock my boat, in this case 🙂 Also, I LOVE your reviews. Honest, balanced, touch of humour- why are you not writing a book, by the way? 😉
    Shailaja recently posted…Judging the writer by the work #MicroblogMondaysMy Profile

  6. Lata Sunil says:

    I so agree with you. I thought I am the only one. I read one of his books and I swore, never again. Maybe I have outgrown him. Maybe I like the M&B love stories more. Or just the female perspective in a love story. But Sparks is not my cup of tea

  7. I have read just one of Nicolas Spark’s books and that was enough mush for me. Plus he makes you cry so bad 🙁
    I haven’t read the book but watched the movie. Wonderful review. Loved reading the quotes.
    Rajlakshmi recently posted…Monday MusingsMy Profile

  8. I had read this book light years ago and for the life of me, I can’t seem to remember the end ?. But I remember not liking this book as much as I liked ‘A walk to remember’. I don’t mind sugary sweet romance if it’s written realistically. My problem is with the ones that start looking absolutely fake and so not happening in real life. None the less, another superb review. Great job!!
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  9. Have not read the book nor seen the film… Very well written review dear… Will see- not on top of my list anyways… Hugs
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  10. I agree, it can’t be all peaches and cream throughout the whole book. There has to be some conflict to make the happy ending worthwhile.
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  11. Like I said, This is not his best work…..Safe haven would be a good one to start with, maybe followed by message in a bottle, but after a few books, you’ll see that they all follow the same pattern!!

  12. Honestly, I came here after seeing the blurb on Facebook. I do not like his work either! I read two of his books in college, this one and A Walk To Remember. I liked the latter a bit better (more or less the same story) but that may have been influenced by the fact that Shane West was in the movie and I was a big fan back then 😀
    This one had several flaws – they both always fought and yes the way she returned to him was so meh. It could have been handled so well but no! I know people like Sparks a lot so I usually refrain from pointing out the obvious 😛 😉
    Sreesha recently posted…Barely Forgotten, Barely RememberedMy Profile

  13. I agree with your analysis. I’m not a Sparks fan though I would love to be as successful as him. Obviously lots of people love his work.

    Susan Says
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  14. All I can say is to each one his own :-p
    All love stories don’t necessarily end up in a wedding my dear 🙂
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  15. Am not at all an avid reader. I guess, I should mend ways.
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  16. Alok singhal says:

    I have to see the movie (I am not into books anyway); but I am a fan of Mr Cage.

    Will check this one out soon.

  17. I have seen the movie. I loved it. Haven’t read the book, though.
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  18. I have watched A walk to remember and loved it. Reading Safe Haven now but haven’t watched the movie.
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  19. I have this book…still unread. I tried but couldn’t finish it. I didn’t find it interesting and I think it’s slightly overrated. But, you write nice reviews. Best wishes, Tarang.
    Tarang recently posted…Book Review: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled HosseiniMy Profile

  20. NIcholas Sparks, Hmm..Not a fan of his books, but I liked the movie – “The Notebook”. Liked, not loved 🙂 I still believe that two of the best love stories written are “Love Story” and it’s sequel “Oliver’s story” by Erich Segal.
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