By Nicholas Sparks
1st book given away this year. And good riddance honestly…
I don’t usually have many bad things to say about the books I read because I don’t purposefully pick up books that look unappetizing. But I didn’t buy this one, and the only thing that kept me reading through it was my stubborn rule of finishing every book I start. Plus now I can write honestly about it.
If you’re unfamiliar with Sparks and his romances, just watch any Hallmark movie ever made. That’s the kind of feel you get. With its good-natured characters and heavy religious undertones, this one was not my speed at all.
I read Nights in Rodanthe last year, and I got the exact same feeling from this one. Two people meeting in extremely serendipitous ways. In Rodanthe, it was that he just happened to be staying at the B&B that she was taking care of for her friend for a single weekend. And in The Best of Me, they were both drawn to their hometown to tend to a deceased loved one they had in common.
Foreseeing his own impending death, Tuck Hostetler leaves behind instructions for his lawyer to give his ashes over to Dawson Cole and Amanda Collier to handle in a specific way. The pair of long-lost lovers return to the place they fell in love to handle this solemn business. Along the way, the pair revisit their past and the love they lost all those 20 years ago. She married and had 3 children; he stayed single forever, living a haunted existence. She’s completely unattainable, the forbidden fruit he longed for all these years. The perfect image of endless love. Blah blah blah…
Yes, it’s romantic. It’s adorable. But oh my did I have to force my way through this one. I mean, there’s a scene with a meadow of wildflowers and butterflies beside a cottage for christ’s sake. You’re killing me here!
I didn’t expect the level of darkness and violence in Dawson’s family for something I consider ‘light reading’, but I guess it adds to his whole “bad-boy” vibe. The bad boy who’s really just a teddy bear. And she, of course, comes from old money. How else could we tear the lovers apart than to have her parents disapprove of her boyfriend choice, and force him into a lonely existence where, yes, you guessed it, he eventually enlists in the military (sound familiar? like every teenage girl’s favorite rom-com: kissing in the rain, lots of love letters and all that…).
The characters are predictable; the story line kindled their forgotten love in a predictable way; even the title has a double meaning towards the end of the book that I predicted way before it had to spell it out for me… I was underwhelmed by this one, and am glad to free up some space for something more intriguing and exciting. Give me adventure! Give me sci-fi or some timeless classic of literature. Something I can learn something from and see themes like ‘man’s inhumanity to man’ or ‘the search for companionship’. The only thing I learned from this one is that in books you don’t have to choose between the man you love and the man you married, because one of them conveniently dies!
There, I said it. And I don’t even feel bad. This review is savage because that’s just what I’m into right now.
If I’m going to start giving my own rating to my review, I’d place a solid 33% on this one. That’s points off for:
- Predictability (highly predictable)
- Depth of character (severely lacking)
- Originality (smells like a basic romance to me)
- And lessons learned (none)
Recommend to… maybe complete loners and housewives who want to escape their own failing marriage for a good 292 pages. But please, don’t read this one if you hate predictable characters and stories. It’s just not worth it.