This 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 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: 4/5
The movie is available on Amazon here.
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* 😉
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