Top critical review
Just a really long epilogue!
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.