on February 17, 2012
I knew going in this was not going to be anything brilliant--I've read a Sparks novel here and there, generally for the chuckles I get out of them, so I had a pretty good idea of what to expect. I just don't think he's a good writer--wooden, overly simplistic prose, poorly-drawn, unrealistic characters, and plots so ridiculously cliche I can predict everything that is going to happen merely by reading the summary. However, I honestly believe this is the worst of the bunch so far.
Warning: this review will contain spoilers, so if you have not yet read the book, proceed with caution.
I was genuinely baffled by five star reviews of this book gushing about all the twists and turns it took, in particular the twist at the end. I knew how nearly every single scenario was going to turn out, which means either I need to take up a career in communicating with spirits on the other side...or this book was far too predictable. The twist at the end of the book is a dead horse that has not only been beaten by a stick, but spit on and otherwise defiled in any way imaginable. Please, for God's sake, just let the poor thing RIP.
The abusive husband is a joke. He is not menacing, and I felt none of the tension I'm certain his pursuit was supposed to elicit, simply because he was so laughably one-dimensional. He's the bad guy because he is a jerk who's mean to his wife and...well, because the story needed a bad guy. That's about it. We know he's a drunk and an ass and a good detective. We know this, because Sparks beat us over the head with these facts about as many times as the stick came down on that poor horse. I might have sincerely considered throwing the book across the room after reading 'He was a good detective' for about the 800th time, if not for the fact that it was an e-book uploaded to a $150 Nook.
There is no subtlety here--we know Katie/Erin is going to shoot her husband at the end of the book because Sparks feels it is necessary to mention several times that she does not like guns. We know Katie/Erin will experience a revelation in regards to what she wants out of life, namely that nothing would make her happier than being a mother to Alex's children and a wife to the man himself, because Sparks cannot write a character flaw to save his life, and what woman WOULDN'T want a man who is handsome, charming, kind, an amazing father, and to boot, probably does not even smell when he exits his bowels?
The romance is the same old formulaic crap. One date is all it takes for both characters to fall madly in love, to realize it, and to proclaim it to one another. What follows is something idyllic and diabetes-inducing sweet, without any conflict other than a brief attempt at a fight, and a little completely unbelievable hemming and hawing courtesy of Katie, who is not sure how much of a commitment she can make to Alex and his children with her husband still on the prowl. I'm not even going to comment on the dead wife angle; I'm still laughing over how contrived all that was.
To summarize: this novel was boring, unbelievable, predictable, and without a single redeeming quality. If you want anything with even a semi-decent plot and character development, I would suggest you keep looking.
on July 5, 2012
I had never read a Nicholas Sparks novel before. I purchased this one at a school book fair to help fund book purchasing for the library. When I started reading it, I thought it was okay, but the more I got into it, the more cliched I realized the plot and characters were. The evil husband was just too much to believe. No one could drink that much and actually track down his escaped wife who had run away from him because of awful physical abuse he committed against her, even if he was "a good detective," as the author kept informing us that he was. Then there's the perfect love-interest for the hiding, abused wife. Way too perfect. And way too unbelievable. And the main character, herself, was also too perfect to be believable. Formula writing at its worst. The ending left me feeling that I had been cheated out the time it took me to plow through the novel, which I should have thrown across the room during the first few chapters when I pretty much knew how everything would turn out. Except for the "surprise" ending that was just so silly that I wanted to tear the pages from the book, crumple them, and recycle them. Not worth the paper they were printed on.
I will never read another Nicholas Sparks novel.
on January 29, 2012
I got this book along with two other Sparks novels as gifts because someone wanted me to see what he's all about. I went in with an open mind knowing nothing about him. I've never read an interview with him, never seen any of the movies based on his books and, besides "The Notebook" don't even know what they are about.
That said, this book is pretty awful.
It seems that this guy gets book deals because his first book sold millions and now millions of people who lap up bad drivel still flock to buy his sugar-coated nonsense. Just really bad writing. The dialogue is cliched, the setting is cliched, the plot is cliched. This book is far worse than the other two I read. But they were all bad. And I went in with an open mind. Really. But this is the sort of writing that anonymous authors pen for Harlequin. It was embarrassing. Are so many people so longing for a good love story that they'll take any cookie-cutter, by-the-numbers sap such as this?
The characters are stupidly perfect...and do not really exist in any world other than the one in this book. Oh, such a lovely girl. She doesn't own a TV and just loves coffee and old books. She has no flaws and is just dandy. Snore. Oh, such a lovely man. He has kids and lost his wife and don't you just know he's a terrific dad who struggles but is really a good guy. Snore. Oh, the kids are so clever and sweet. They're loyal to their dad and mature beyond their years. Snore. Oh, the people in that town are so lovely. There's a church on every corner, which MUST mean that everyone there is good town-folk. Why? Because church people are always so lovely and nice. Snore. Wait...what's this...? A villain? He's the villain because....he's constantly being a huge, evil jerk. Just because. In fact, he's so cartoonish, he might as well be curling his moustache throughout the book.
Drivel. Just awful.
Do yourself a favor and seek out writing that's actually worth your time.
on March 11, 2011
Predictable. Sleeping With The Enemy copycat, but description of the villian seems to be cut and pasted from chapter to chapter to the point where I want to scream, "Okay! I got it!" Sparks seems to be concentrating on quantity and not the quality he once had. Spend your money elsewhere.
on May 2, 2011
I usually love Nicholas Sparks novels, but lately, especially with this one, I have been disappointed.
If you have seen the movie "Sleeping with the Enemy" with Julia Roberts, this book is a carbon copy. Same story, but a few different details. As I was reading this, I felt ripped off because it was such a copy. I figured I should stick it out until the end thinking maybe it would actually be different, but it of course, wasn't.
The description of the villain was WAY WAY overdone. It felt like the same description was written over 10 different ways and just pasted in between the other chapters. The editing on this book is dreadfully poorly done. This whole book felt like it was just pieced together sloppily to sell another book. You can tell that it was rushed, copied from the movie Sleeping with the Enemy, and rushed out to the public for a $.
I thought the Notebook, The Rescue, Bend in the ROad, and Nights in ROdanthe were good books,(boring movie but good book) Last Song was too simplified. True Believer had me yawning all the way through.
I am not going to rush out and buy any more of Nicholas Sparks novels. This one was a joke folks.
on December 26, 2011
Contrived story about a BORING, perfect couple. I felt the author thinks his readers are dumb, spelling everything out for them. By chapter 2, I was screaming in my head, "Stop over-telling it! I'm not stupid!"
If he can become a best seller, ANYONE can! This was my first and last N.Sparks book. I was bored to the point of tapping my feet faster and faster against my bed-end for him to finally get to a point... that never seemed to come.
I'd actually growl & roll my eyes while reading the perfect and mousy main character. She'd speak to other perfect characters who'd say such perfect things (very unnatural dialogue). Oh, her thoughts were perfect too. What an angel. Ugh! Perfect characters are not only boring but annoying! The guy-hero was so perfect he sounded like an old man (no sexiness in that). Then his kids came on the scene and they were even MORE perfect. The Main C's neighbour was perfect. The hero-guy & neighbour would come out with some perfect philosophy-type sayings in their repetitive speeches to the heroine. Gag. Who speaks like that?
I'm all for nice-guy heroes, but not painfully perfect ones.
We were told the details of these perfect people's mundane, mind-numbingly boring lives with extreme detail. This wasn't setting up the plot, this was repeating words and phrases in a writing style with so much redundancy I was driven mad by chapter 3. Reading is to escape into a world more exciting more than one's own. Hasn't N.Sparks heard of "Tea for the Vicar" writing? He also WAY over-uses said-bookisms, adverbs and filter-words. Does he still study the craft of writing or is he resting on his Laurels? This book shouts it's the latter (if his previous books were better. Hard to imagine).
A character can still be going through stuff, be sad, scared, etc, and not be DULL. Who wants to read about dull people? I'm so baffled as to the reviews here. SO baffled!
There was NO hook. At the end of chapter one, I could've closed the book, happy. I only kept reading through one tedious chapter after the other because I'd paid for it and he's popular for a reason, right? Right? It HAD to get better, it HAD to have a connection between the characters to warrant "An epic love story" being printed on the front cover! Surely.
Sadly, it got even worse. I still hadn't connected with Katie or Alex (her love interest) when the story switched to her abusive husband's POV. Chapter after chapter of the "badie." Oh, boy, this book was like a rookie author had penned it. Perfect main characters and a BAD bad guy. 100% bad! And crazy, too. Sparks hits you over the head again and again with the same information (I'm BAD and I'm CRAZY, watch out, heroine!). N.Sparks thinks his readers are just that dumb. He's everything I've heard good authors say what NOT to do.
I admit that after chapter 10 I skimmed my way to the end in under 1/2 an hour. I was sick of the lengthy, boring details and conversations. And I'm glad I didn't invest any more time than that, especially given the predictable melodrama infused happenings near the end, and the TERRIBLE actual ending. That's supposed to be a twist?
I LAUGHED that a book could be THAT bad and end with something SO contrived and cliche and corny. Laugh or cry, right?
This book could have used HALF the words to tell the same story (it's Sleeping With the Enemy without the fun guy as the love interest, and with kids). I'd be embarrassed for anyone to see a N.Sparks novel on my bookshelf, lest they think I was mindless.
on January 16, 2013
Hearing many good things about Sparks' books and needing a fun, mindless novel after several heavy non-fiction books in a row, I downloaded Safe Haven to my Kindle. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. I mean, his books are bestsellers; millions of Americans can't be wrong, right?
Oh, but can they. By page 20 I was already bored of the terribly tedious descriptions and pedestrian dialogue. Does it really benefit the story to describe every step of preparation when Katie cooks dinner for Alex? "Then she put the food in the refrigerator. After walking across the room, she decided to put the brie into the oven." (I'm paraphrasing, but it really is that bad.) A third of the way through the book I was waiting for the moment when the CRAZY, EVIL ex-husband would try and find Katie in order to kill her. The stupid twist at the end was something I would have come up with in my high school creative writing class and it made me want to stomp on my Kindle and break it just to make this book disappear from my life forever.
But the kicker for me was the BOOK DISCUSSION points at the end. What reading group is discussing this book? How could you possibly deconstruct a piece of "literature" this pedestrian? The only possible discussion you can do of this terrible book is to critique how one-dimensional the characters are, how predictable the plot is, how wooden the dialogue and prose is, and ponder the question of HOW ON EARTH THIS AUTHOR APPEALS TO THE MAJORITY OF THE BOOK-READING POPULATION.
America, you deserve better. Go pick up a real book, because this is pure drivel.
on March 5, 2013
I had not read any of this author's books until Safe Haven. It had such good reviews from those who did not normally like Sparks' work, I decided to give it a try and was overwhelmed with disappointment. I wasn't expecting a lot and still was let down. Vocabulary reading level is middle school at best and the plot is mostly transparent from the very beginning, with the exception of one twist at the end. This surprise at the end gave me a " you have got to be kidding me !" feeling. I have to give Sparks credit for knowing the right "formula" to use to put his books on the best sellers lists. Figuring he knows that much, next he should concentrate on how to develop characters and put the English language to better use.
on September 26, 2012
...and this book is a very thinly disguised copy of that movie! I can't understand why the writer of "Sleeping with the Enemy" hasn't sued. NEVER will I buy another of Nicholas Spark's books.
on January 27, 2011
Did anyone else see the similarities between this book and Black and Blue & the movie, Sleeping with the Enemy?? I was greatly disappointed in lack of originality. I had heard that from Sparks there are twists and turns, but the "theme" with Jo was overshadowed by the grotesque character of Kevin.
I kept reading just see if I would be surprised and no, I wasn't...this will be my last.