15 July 2015

The Longest Ride

Author: Nicolas Sparks
Rating: 2.5 / 5 stars
Verdict: Bury (Borrow if you are big into romance)

I have to confess right off the bat that I'm not the biggest Nicolas Sparks fan.  Sure, I own a few of the movies adapted from his novels (A Walk to Remember, The Notebook), and I've read a few other of his novels (I actually own The Last Song).  But he has never captured my heart the way he has millions of others, and I think his writing subpar compared to my favorites in the adult fiction genre.  To be fair, it takes a lot to get me invested into a romance novel, and this book just doesn't make the cut.

The Longest Ride is typical of what you are likely to get from a Sparks novel.  The characters are hard to relate to, due to the crazy circumstances of their lives or, as is the case with Sophia, too busy worried about falling in love to ever develop any characteristics of her own.  I saw this in the movie as well, which I saw first and actually liked compared to the last few Sparks movies which have been terrible (The Lucky One, The Best of Me).  I at least liked the movie enough to give the book a go.  I thought the book might be able to flush out the story and characters, helping capitalize where the movie fell short.  Unfortunately, it turns out I prefer the movie adaptation to the novel.  In the movie, you only have two hours to condense the plot, so you can give the writers a little more leeway with some of the plot and character gaps.  But after almost 400 pages of the novel, I thought Sophia should have at least been a little it developed as a character.  By the end of the story, she's basically still this liberal arts major who is a first generation American who likes art.  And that's about it.

Also, perhaps I am a feminist, but I kind of hate the ending.  Sure, it is a love story, centered on the romance, and thus readers want a happily ever after ending to make it feel like their time invested in the story is worth it.   (And I hope this isn't giving too much away, spoiler wise) Sophia doesn't fight for her dreams at all, and instead throws it all basically to the wind on a relationship that is less than a year old with someone she really doesn't share much in common with.  As someone who struggled with a similar situation with regards to my career versus my personal life, it made me feel like Sophia is a quitter, ready to walk away from what she claims is her dream career, just to follow her heart.  That's not a happy ending to me, that's depressing.

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