Monday, November 21, 2011

Book Review: The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks


THE BEST OF ME is the heart-rending story of two small-town former high school sweethearts from opposite sides of the tracks. Now middle-aged, they've taken wildly divergent paths, but neither has lived the life they imagined . . . and neither can forget the passionate first love that forever altered their world. When they are both called back to their hometown for the funeral of the mentor who once gave them shelter, they will be forced to confront the choices each has made, and ask whether love can truly rewrite the past.


I am a Nicholas Sparks fan. I have all his book and fell in love with every book he wrote. I became a fan when I watched the movie "Message in a Bottle" starring Kevin Costner and Robyn Wright when I was in college. I cried during the last part of that movie. I found out back then that the movie was actually based from a novel written by Nicholas Sparks. I didn't know him at that time and the movie made me curious about his other novels. I immediately went to Powerbooks and bought every book he wrote that I've missed. Yep, I read them all and loved it. I particularly like A Walk To Remember, The Wedding, Dear John and The Lucky One but my favorite so far is "The Choice."

A Nicholas Sparks fan would definitely know that he likes to kill off one of his characters in the book and be effective in doing it, but he failed on this one.

The Best of Me follows the love story of Dawson Cole and Amanda Collier. Both used to be high school sweethearts and just like "The Notebook," the girl's parents didn't approve of the guy. So the story fast-forwarded to their late 40s with the girl already married with children while the guy was left behind. They met again when a common friend Tuck Hostetler died. The dead friend managed to make them meet again through his dying request from his lawyer. He wanted his ashes to be scattered in his other home and that these former couple should do it together.

It becomes complicated when Dawson Cole meets up with his "gangster-like" relatives who wants him dead because of some unresolved issues in the past. The plot thickens when his cousins tried to kill him not just once during his visit. Dawson also confronts his ugly past when he saw the family who was the reason why he went to jail when he was 18. There's also some paranormal elements in the story when Dawson keeps on seeing a man in a blue jacket and then quickly disappears.

By far this is probably my least favorite among his books. Nicholas Sparks is a great writer. He always makes me cry when reading his novel. This book is also very emotional but a bit cliche. In his past books, he was always a good storyteller but somehow with this one, it seemed like he wrote this with a "movie deal" in mind. I firmly believe that Nicholas Sparks should go back to the roots of his talents and not focus his novels in becoming a movie blockbuster someday. I watched his interview in one of his TV guestings and I found out that he wrote this book because a producer asked him to write a story that could be made into a movie and will be starred by a famous actor.

He should really stay away from the movie business. He's a good author. He shouldn't write books that producers in Hollywood can turn it into a blockbuster movie. He should just write books that his fans would appreciate around the world and let the movie makers deal with his stories. Not the other way around.

The story wasn't bad but the ending sucked compared to his other novels. It's too tragic and everything in Dawson's life is "too much" especially the family war and the accidents. The characters weren't as memorable compared to his other novels. It became so predictable that when I was halfway reading the novel, I already knew who would die in the end.

The story is also too melodramatic - accidents, alcoholism, guilt, injuries, threats, violence, ghosts, forgiveness, retribution. The different aspects do not fit well together to make a cohesive story. The ending, while not completely predictable, goes over the top in drama. This is somewhat new to me because I couldn't find the "Nicholas Sparks" I know from this novel. I guess I finally understood why he said this was the most difficult book he had ever written. This was not his usual style. He took some risk in writing this new one but I still like his usual style.

If this is your first time to read a Nicholas Sparks book then I suggest that you skip this one first. Read his other novels from his book list so you won't get disappointed. He is still my favorite and would still buy his next novel but I really didn't like this one. Dawson Cole nor Amanda Collier didn't make any impression on me at all. The movie producers probably rushed him in writing this one because this BEST OF ME is not the best one at all.

I suggest new readers of Nicholas Sparks to start with The Notebook, The Wedding, The Guardian, The Lucky One, Dear John, The Choice, A Walk to Remember or Message in a Bottle. As for the fans like myself, If you haven't read this one yet then you may do so just don't expect a lot. It's a tearjerker for others but not for me. It's okay but not as good the books he had written in the past.

I'll rate this 5.5 out of 10.

The Hollywood movie makers are corrupting his talent in writing great novels.


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