By: Nicholas Sparks
Anybody heard of Nicholas Sparks?
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
We all have. (If you’re not sure, just think The Notebook.)
The King of Romance Novels. Responsible for all of our Liam Hemsworth and Zac Efron fueled fantasies.
Now I’ve read my fair share of Nicholas Sparks novels. In fact, I remember distinctly loving The Wedding and sobbing my heart out over Message in a Bottle.
But his newer stuff just really hasn’t cut it for me. It’s like he writes the book just to make it a movie.
Oh wait. That’s literally exactly what he does. (See The Last Song.)
Maybe it’s just that I’ve read one too many. Maybe it’s just that I know that in real life, Sparks is divorced. Maybe it’s that he included Drew Brees in his acknowledgements. Maybe it’s just that his writing has gotten sloppier.
Whatever it is, it all feels a lot cheaper to me.
Okay, hold your horses. Don’t draw and quarter me just yet. I like Nicholas Sparks. I think his books are great, slightly-longer beach reads for those of us who don’t make reading a regular habit.
I just think he comes off a little cheap, like a pop country song written by a team of writers in LA.
Let’s take the title of this one for instance. See Me. Okay. Well, that’s pretty generic, could mean anything, kind of intriguing.
But it has almost nothing to do with the book. Yes, there is a single point at which one of the characters says “See me,” but it is neither a pivotal moment nor a thematic trope. It’s super random. It’s like he wrote the whole book, someone separately gave him a title, and then his editor told him to fit it in somehow.
I’m being harsh. This isn’t that bad. It’s a love story (surprise) about damsel-in-distress Maria Sanchez and her rough-and-tumble boyfriend Colin. Maria is stalked (think Safe Haven). Colin is working on his anger management while trying to simultaneously protect his woman. Yada yada.
It’s pretty cut and dry. You can guess how everything works out.
Big props to my guy Nick for finally deciding to add some diversity to his repertoire by naming a character literally Maria Sanchez. Yeah. And if you think I’m being unduly critical, here’s a great passage:
Her uncle Tito was in the park, kicking a soccer ball with her uncle Jose and a few of her nieces and nephews… Meanwhile, Pedro, Juan, and Angelo, her cousins, were positioned in lawn chairs on the front lawn.
REALLY. This would be like having a family of James, John, Joe, and Tom. Suuuper creative.
Okay. Okay. It’s okay. The book is fine. But that’s about as positive as I can be about it.
Nicholas Sparks fan? Here are some suggestions:
(for more by Sparks)
The Wedding by Nicholas Sparks
Message in a Bottle by Nicholas Sparks
Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks
Dear John by Nicholas Sparks
(for classics of romance)
Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen
The Mistress by Danielle Steel
Letter of a Nation by Andrew Carroll
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
The Trial by Franz Kafka