Originally posted at my blog Chasing Empty Pavements
Nicholas Sparks novels are kind of my guilty pleasure… I know I’ll never come away from his novels with an enlightened or deepened view of the world, but I always know I’ll walk away from his novels feeling the love from the characters. That being said, it’s hard for me to rate this novel because even though I love his novels, I really am starting to get tired of the recycled plots/characters formula. But I’m gonna try my hardest to explain what I did and didn’t like about this one.
The Good: I really loved and appreciated the way Sparks took on the topic of alcoholism. He didn’t make the character the stereotypical dirty, violent, raging alcoholic. Instead he chose to showcase the character as a high-functioning alcoholic, a middle class, white collar, nice family man. I think Sparks made a great choice doing this because there are SO many families that experience alcoholism in a parent even though on the outside they may seem completely normal. Even successful, charming businessmen and women can fall into the traps of alcoholism. Sparks also did a magnificent job creating the worlds scariest brothers. Oh my. Ted and Abee Cole are some frightening characters. These are the type of guys who wouldn’t blink an eye at killing someone if they were provoked. They are the main character’s brothers and I don’t blame Dawson for hating his kin. There were actually passages that I cringed because the brothers were that creepy/scary. The one thing I ALWAYS love about Sparks books are the settings. I love the North Carolina southern-ish type of setting. He always describes the setting in such detail that I think I can visit North Carolina in my head rather than actually going there. It makes me want to move there!
The Bad: Okay. Besides being horribly predictable, this book is basically The Notebook/Message in a Bottle/Nights in Rodanthe mixed into one. Rich girl meets poor boy, they fall in love, girl is forbidden to see boy because her parents disapprove, boy and girl have fight, life goes on but both think about each other often, then something happens that brings them back together and they rekindle their “one true love” status but both believe things should go back to “normal” until one of them realizes that’s the wrong decision and then something tragic and bad happens and there is a sappy ending. Something else I’ve noticed is that the older I get and the more and more I read, the less and less Spark’s sentences seem unique. They seem a bit contrived, forced and cheesy honestly. I’m really not trying to dog on him because I truly do love him and his ideas, I’m just saying there are some things you don’t realize until you get older and the quality of his writing is one of those things. As far as the characters go, it’s hard to get attached to the characters because as far as I’m concerned, I’ve seen Amanda and Dawson in Sparks other novels. Whereas when I read The Notebook, Noah and Allie were such unique, different characters that I couldn’t help but fall in love with them. I also thought the character of Tuck could have been SO MUCH MORE. He was supposed to be this great character that represented the past for Amanda and Dawson but he just didn’t live up to the hype he was given in the first couple chapters. There’s a part where he leaves letters for Amanda and Dawson and Sparks builds up the scene like these letters are going to contain some serious information or advice and once the letters are revealed, they really aren’t anything great. I was highly disappointed.
Overall, I’m not denying the fact that I finished this book in a day and a half and that I plowed through it with intensity like I do for amazing books, all I’m saying is that this is a novel I’ve seen many times before, mostly from Sparks himself and I was hoping it would be a little different. I’m going to give this book a C.