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on 24 August 2014
I’ve got to say, this book didn’t meet my expectations. I’m an avid reader of Nicholas Sparks’ books but this just didn’t do it for me. Ironically, I actually wanted to read this one more than I did True Believer, but due to this being the ‘second’ book of the two,—something that Sparks hasn’t done with the rest of his novels— I felt compelled to read both in chronological order.


I felt like with True Believer, Lexie and Jeremy’s story had already been told—in typical Nicholas Sparks fashion. They meet unexpectedly as strangers, there’s a spark between the pair, they get together (or not in some cases) and then proceed to fall in love, dancing off into the sunset. Whereas this novel, like a sponge, tried to squeeze everything out of the characters as Sparks could possibly could. There's a reason this novel is as short as it is—there's not enough to keep squeezing out of the characters! What with their story having already been told,—in my eyes—this just seemed drag on a bit; creating in different scenarios to fill in the spaces. Although Lexie and Jeremy are a sweet couple, I think that their story could have ended at the end of True Believer, even with the cliff-hanger at the end.

Regarding the entire novel and disregarding my feelings towards the characters’ been stretched far beyond their limits over two books, I enjoyed this book, but it’s definitely not a favourite. I felt that after True Believer which kept you plodding along quite nicely, this was hard to get going. It’s very slow. It’s told more in Jeremy’s perspective despite being in third person—what about Lexie? How is she feeling? What are her thoughts? Jeremy seems to be brooding and lost in his own thoughts with all of the transition of his live in such a short space of time—you’re sacrificing a lot for the woman you love, we get it! Meanwhile, they’re fighting a lot which is understandable, but with Jeremy being stuck in his head so much, there’s no sense of rationality which is a shame for a man who writes for Scientific American and tries to debunk fakes, rationalising with the truth using his own knowledge and research. Maybe Sparks should have listened to his character more than trying to turn him on his head for dramatic effect? Lexie is hiding things from him, seeing Rodney who obviously has feelings for her, and his best friend Alvin is plotting against him—isn’t Jeremy already going through enough to pile this on top of him as well?

Obviously the announcement of Lexie’s pregnancy is a shock to the reader and Jeremy as in True Believer he said he couldn’t have children with his ex-wife, Maria. This plays a heavy part in the entire novel and Jeremy’s irrational thoughts. With the birth scene and all of the scans previous, I liked this touch as Sparks had done his research properly—not many people do! I do have to say, though, that although as an author you need the element of surprise and with Claire—the baby—being fine wasn’t enough for Sparks, Lexie’s death in childbirth may have been a step too far on the dramatic side. Of course, it’s plausible, but after all of the other shock, I don’t think it was really needed. Mind you, that’s just my opinion.

Overall, I would probably read this novel again if I were to read True Believer, but I wouldn’t he in haste to pick it up again. It has good points, but it also has bad points. I think Sparks’ has some far better novels than this one. Three out of five, for me.
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on 19 January 2014
I'm a big fan of occult and psychic detectives, and stories involving them. So, when I found out that bestselling writer Nicholas Sparks had written a novel involving an occult detective/debunker I was interested in reading it just to see how he would handle such material.

In "True Believer" Jeremy Marsh is a columnist for magazines like "Scientific American" and after years of toiling and struggling by doing articles involving scientific subjects, and debunking psychic or occult phenomena, Marsh seems to be on the verge of hitting the big time. He's just exposed famous spiritualist Timothy Clausen, and he is now weighing his new-found options.

To relax, the jaded, divorced, and cynical Marsh travels from his base in New York to Boone Creek, North Carolina because he has received a letter from Doris McClellan, who owns and operates Herbs, the local restaurant/bar/watering hole for the small, and dying, town. The supernatural phenomena involves the sightings of phantom lights that are seen by people on certain nights when the town's weather conditions are right.

After talking to Doris, Marsh heads over the local library to start on his research, and it's here that he meets the head librarian Lexie Darnell, who is Doris' granddaughter.

The plot thereafter is rather simple and uncomplicated, as Sparks spends the rest of the novel either investigating the phantom lights, or pursuing his passive/aggressive relationship with Lexie. Now, for me, who likes doing research, the only time that this novel EVER becomes interesting is when Marsh is doing research into the local phenomena.

And that's the problem. Both plot and characters are just not enough to sustain a three-hundred plus page novel. We start off with some pretty dull characterization on Sparks part because, basically, all of the characters in his novel are clichés right out of central casting. There's the uptight, distant, and psychically wounded librarian, the good-hearted waitress, the flighty best friend, the uptight cop, the shifty mayor, etc. In the end, only Marsh is ever sufficiently developed, unfortunately, he, and his relationship with Lexie, which is the vast majority of this novel's plot, was just not interesting enough to hold my interest, although things finally do pick up somewhat in the last third of the novel. Even so, Marsh just doesn't cut it as a leading man, and Lexie is an annoying passive/aggressive woman whose bs would be enough to drive anybody away. Mayor Gherkin, given a clownish name so that Sparks can make him a clown, is potentially an interesting character; and he could have been an interesting sub-plot. After all, it is he that has to figure out how to keep his dying town alive, especially since this novel's principal characters are out to destroy the only thing that comes his way that he sees that he can use to keep the dying Boone Creek afloat. But when he comes up with an interesting sub-plot, and there are several in this novel, Sparks blows the opportunity to develop them, almost every single time.

And as far as the phantom lights go, the phantom lights that are very reason that Marsh is even in Boone Creek, I have almost never read a novel with such an anti-climatic dénouement. In his 1973 story 'With Morning Comes Mistfall', George R. R. Martin managed to do a story dealing with the same theme of somebody who must constantly demystify EVERYTHING, and Martin did it without the maudlin bs, and without a weak, and over-long, romance. In "True Believer" the end result is that any mystery in this world should be debunked, and this debunking should be embraced. Unfortunately, without mystery, what a boring place this world is, much like this, ***Yawn***, pedestrian novel. I was so bored that I found sitting in a doctor's waiting room more interesting than reading this, at one point, I dug out my 1996 video tape of ESPN's "World Toe-Nail Clipping Olympics" to watch rather than continue reading. If I hadn't OCD and because I was reading "True Believer" as a form of homework for another website, I would never have finished this.

But, what the heck, why listen to me, I'm certainly not the target audience of Sparks' novels, but, for me, "True Believer" may have been smoothly and commercially written, but at the end of the day, this novel is nothing more than a novelette that has been expanded into an over-long, and bland novel. The events in this novel take place over a period of several days, but it seemed like years to me. I guess I'm glad I read it, I guess, but I ain't gonna read the sequel.
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on 1 October 2012
Although at times I was hooked, when I realised this was "simply" a love story I was dismayed. From reading the title, and, briefly, the back, I thought this would be a story where a non-believer comes to meet some miracle he finally cannot explain. It wasn't.
And I would like to share my thoughts with the other readers now, so the following passage contains spoilers!
I think the character of Jeremy is really well thought out. I also liked grandma Doris - wish she was more important in the story - and Alvin, and the mayor. In Lexie's character there is a serious flaw - I just didn't see it in her to send Jeremy away after the night at the lighthouse. She seemed to decide that this could be a good thing in her life, and then she stopped doing it. Again, expecting a man to turn up at your doorstep twice, is ridiculous. They do not even come back for the first time, if they are sent away...
Anyway, considering this a love story (the miracle didn't happen), it is dull. It is a boring version of a start of a long distance relationship, with nothing special added. When towards the end Jeremy is to write his article and Alvin points it out that "It might be enough to make the story...but you have to realise that the solution isn't all that interesting...it is boring with a capital B...you're going to need it to spice it up somehow." I had a queer feeling that Alvin was talking about THIS story. Huh.
I think it should have shifted the ghostlight focus quickly towards Doris about whom Jeremy can prove she really is a diviner, that would have given enough spice. Of course the ghostlight story should have been wrapped up much quicker, and maybe the mayor's diary was an unwanted piece in the story, especially with the quarrel that followed. And Lexie should have been more decisive after their night at the beach-house, and stay committed, not causing the extra trouble at the end.
What do you think?
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on 31 October 2005
Everything Mr. Sparks writes is extrordinary. I love his style and is words and settings, especially the romance takes my breath away. 'At First Sight' is no different. He is a wonderful detail driven author. Recommending-Everything Mr. Sparks Writes especially "True Believer", Fire In The Ice by Katlyn Stewart
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on 9 February 2012
Not at all happy with this "purchase"
I waited so long and got so busy that I had almost forgotten about/given up on this book!
I wasn't told it hadn't been delivered and realised just how long it had been when amazon sent an e-mail asking me to review my product. I didn't bother ordering a replacement and I am seriously disappointed in the place I ordered it from. Amazon however at least dealt with my problem accordingly and I have no complaints there.
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on 7 December 2008
New York journalist Jeremy Marsh goes to small town Boone Creek in North Carolina in order to find out the reasons behind the mysterious lights that appear in an ancient cemetery.

In addition to talking to several people in town, he studies lots of old diaries and documents at the local library. Most of what he finds is of no help whatsoever, only theories based on wishful thinking and imagination. Until he finally hits the truth on one single sheet of paper.

Why is it then that we have to read through all this boring documentation together with Jeremy? Uninteresting and repetitious as it is. A few colourful townspeople at the local café do little to brighten this gloomy undertaking.

A love story has been thrown in. It's well known that love works in mysterious ways, but when Jeremy falls for town librarian Lexie, the wonder of love is stretched mighty far. Super attractive Jeremy lives in New York which is full of gorgeous and NICE!!! women, and he picks Lexie. The most annoying, stubborn, peculiar "heroine" there ever was. I wanted to hit her more than once, downright impertinent and badly behaved as she was.

I managed a third of the book before I gave up, skimmed through the rest and peaked at the end - yess, the lovebirds do finally shake hands - and closed it with a sigh.

I got this book in hardcover, and based on previous experience, looked forward to another excellent read. What a total waste of money.
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on 8 December 2008
If "True Believer" was a big disappointment, the sequel, "At First Sight", was almost a shock. A great, wonderful surprise. What a beautiful book! About love, joy and sorrow. About life in all its reality - the greatest loss, the greatest gift

The first part of the book may be a bit like "True Believer" in as much as it tends to be too detailed. I think that with proper editing, the main facts from "True Believer" plus a more to the point version of the first part of "At First Sight" - together with the incredible last part and ending, would have made one perfect book. Concentrating on the miracle of love, the ghosts and mysteries a side line.

But nothing can ruin the beauty and sincerety of "At First Sight" after Lexie and Jeremy's wedding. Lexie seems transformed in this book, or is it just that her earlier behaviour is finally properly explained?

"True Believer" felt like robbery. "At First Sight" a gift. After having finished it, I sat for a long time with the book in my hands. Love. What matters more in our short lives?

A beautiful gift. Thank you, Mr. Sparks!
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on 23 March 2014
True Believer by Nicholas Sparks

Jeremy Marsh is a New York journalist with the popular magazine "Scientific American,". He is a skeptic in anything supernatural, fortune tellers, mind readers, ghost hunters, etc. He is sent to a small South Carolina town named Bone Creek, to investigate the legend of "lights" being seen in the local cemetery.

Lexie Darnell is the town librarian and the one he goes to for researching this story. Jeremy soon fall for the lovely Lexie, although she is hesitant to give up her heart so easily. Soon Jeremy is faced with a major life altering decision. Should he follow his head or his heart?

I liked the story like, the main characters were likable. The descriptions of life in a small American town (in my opinion) were very accurate. I also loved the cover, yes I do admit Lighthouses are appealing to me, the cover drew me in, Nicholas Sparks name caught my interest, and the story kept me reading until late at night.

Romance lovers should enjoy this read.
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on 8 December 2013
Read from library. Had read true believer (which wasnt my most liked of his books) and others by this author that I loved. I have taken weeks to read this as read few pages then read something else as couldnt get into book. Agree with reviewer maya j. Didnt like lexie. Came across as money grasping and controlling in this book. He uproots his life for her. She doesnt tell him beforehand that they wont live together until married also she has plans for bigger house & she tells him what car he must buy, then the house. All his money. He has to live in dump of motel. He comes across weak. She is determined to change him to fit in with locals. He is from new york and they are living in the boonies. The ending was good but didnt affect me as his other books did. Those books left me emotionally drained. This, was sad but I was glad to have got to the end. Book well written but I didnt connect to characters.
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on 10 May 2017
I am a huge fan of Nicholas Sparks and have loved every book of his I've read... until this one. I was so disappointed. I thought it was going to be exciting and full of mystery, but it was about nothing. Nothing happened. The characters were wishy washy and irritating with no real strong traits. Give me See Me over this any day.
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