I have read a few books by Nicholas Sparks before, including Message in a Bottle and The Choice, both of which I enjoyed. Sparks seems to have a knack for developing deeply romantic relationships with heart-wrenching twists and a load of cheesiness just big enough for me to indulge in without feeling too sick and embarrassed afterwards. His books are frequently turned into movies, and several of them are among my favourites, including The Notebook, which is an awesome film! So when I picked up this book I was absolutely positive I was going to love it. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that I didn’t. At all. In fact, I actively dislike it. With a passion, nonetheless, which is ironic (more on that later).
For those of you who aren’t interested in reading the entire review (a.k.a my crazy rant), I’ll let Plain White T’s sum up the gist of my feelings for the book:
Anyone who’s still with me should beware: SPOILERS AHEAD! Proceed at your own risk! Although, if you haven’t read the book or seen the movie by now, I suppose you’re never going to.
The first and maybe most important complaint I have with this book is that it never really managed to raise my interest in Noah and Allie’s love story. This is due largely to the fact that their entire background story (their summer together as teenagers) is told in retrospect without the reader being let in on the action. It felt like I was reading a recap of a story, instead of the story itself. So when I was told that Allie and Noah shared an epic romance back in the day, I didn’t really find it very compelling.
Furthermore, I thought there was very little suspense in the story. Noah, Allie and I all had access to every bit of essential information, which was presented to whomever it may concern in an orderly fashion. As a result, there was no drama, no mystery and no excitement.
Related to the issue of suspense, or rather the lack thereof, is the lack of passion between the characters. Instead of passion, the reader is served a pile of lukewarm politeness. In the beginning it’s understandable that the characters would be hesitant and whatnot, but after a while it starts to get annoying. To my great disappointment, the passionate and fiery characters I remember from the movie don’t exist in this book; instead I met two uninteresting, overly polite, bland people. And they’re not the only ones: Allie’s mother is perfectly polite, even as she tells Noah he’s not good enough for her daughter (that’s actually sort of impressive). Lon is pleasant and polite even as he gets dumped. Even the geese politely ignore Noah and Allie’s invasion of their territory (and their personal space) and unfortunately refrain from attacking the intruders, which is too bad because at least that would have been interesting. The result then, is a tedious romance between two regrettably underdeveloped characters, and a mystery of some seriously sedated poultry.
Finally, I must admit that even I could not withstand the amount of cheese dumped on me throughout this book. I felt like I was drowning in it. The recapping love letters, the endless speeches and declarations of love, the poems, the miraculous lucidness, the three-legged dog (!), the clichéd situations (making love in front of the fire-place, how original) and the even more clichéd descriptions of the character’s pleasant feelings for each other, it was all just too much to take, even for me. And that says a lot. A prime example from the text: “And as their eyes lingered for a second, she felt the heat in her neck and breasts, and she flushed, turning away before he noticed.” Often, I would get bored by the cheese overload and start drifting off, distracted by weird little details like flushing breasts. I may be wrong, as I do only have my own pair to rely on for this info, but as far as I know breasts don’t get embarrassed. Do they? I’ll have to google that later.
Usually when I read a book after already having seen the movie, the movie ends up ruined for me because the book is far too superior. That’s why I’ve avoided reading The Notebook until now. The one piece of good news about this book then, is that it did not ruin one of my favourite films for me. On the contrary, I now admire the movie more for its brilliancy. It takes talent to make something that good out of something this crappy. My advice to you: steer clear of this book and put on the movie instead.
My rating: 1 star (on a scale of one to five).
Follow-up questions for you:
– Which one do you prefer: the book or the movie?
– Do your breasts get embarrassed?
– Were you disappointed Noah and Allie didn’t get struck by lightning?
– Do you suspect that the guys in Plain White T’s have read The Notebook?