Book 2/25 in the 2011 Reading Challenge. Date completed: January 28, 2011.
The Notebook, but I love-love-LOVED the movie. Actually, The Notebook is the reason I am always careful now to read books before watching films.
I very much enjoyed Dear John, The Lucky One, and The Guardian. I liked how the books were all light-hearted and fun and easy to digest. Quick, brainless reads. I was even able to choke down the sugary-sweet, overbearing predictability in these books because the characters were likable. In Dear John, for example, the highlight was not the relationship between John and Savannah for me. My favorite part of the book was John's father.
Safe Haven, however, did not have a silver lining for me. This book never fully caught my attention. Several times while reading it, I wondered what had happened - maybe Nicholas Sparks was on a time crunch and needed to give his editors something, anything, ASAP. So he hyped himself up on Red Bull and cranked out the crap that is Safe Haven overnight. Halfway through this novel, I could have told you with about 95% accuracy the outcome. I kept losing my place on the pages because I involuntarily rolled my eyes so many times mid-paragraph.
I think I am usually pretty generous about the "reviews" I give to books, but this was quite honestly a disaster. To say I was disappointed would be a total understatement. I was pretty excited to read this one, so I think the fact that it seriously sucked was an even tougher pill to swallow.
Basically what we have here is the EXTREMELY predictable story of a girl called Katie who arrives in a small town in North Carolina. She is pretty obviously running from some sort of a troubled past - the details of her past I won't "spoil" for you, but just know that it's quite obvious very early on just what is going on. I'm pretty sure that if you pick this book up, you'll figure it out quite quickly. There are parts from about the middle of the book on that are from the book's antagonist point of view (if you read them often, you know that Nicholas Sparks frequently changes the perspective throughout his novels) and they are so poorly written that I cringed every time. Just because a character is a "villain" does not mean they must be written like a big idiot. Especially when the character in question is as clever as this one is supposed to be. Every time it changed to this character's point of view, I found myself shaking my head. I don't know what Sparks was thinking when he wrote this, and I really don't know what his editors were thinking when they allowed it to be published.
I won't even bother getting into the sloppy and completely unbelievable ending to this story. There is no point.
I gave this book a one-star Goodreads rating, and quite frankly that was pretty generous, I think. I managed to get interested enough to follow through and finish the book just to get a sense of accomplishment out of it, but it was tough. Safe Haven represents $12.99 and seven days of my life that I will never get back. How it has an average rating of 3.9 stars on Goodreads is beyond me - unless people are reviewing the book simply on the Nicholas Sparks reputation. But quite frankly, that reputation is dwindling. How many times will we have to read the same tired story lines over and over again?
I also found through Googling that they are making this book into a film - I think it seems like Sparks only writes now to try and have films based on his novels. The decision to make this one into a film seems a bit ridiculous and premature to me, given the content of the book.
Needless to say, I don't recommend this one in any way.