Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks

I’m probably going to be chased out of my house with pitchforks for this review, but I generally find Nicholas Sparks overly sappy, predictable, and formulaic for my taste. Actually, Sparks reminds me a lot of Danielle Steel in the way that he is quite prolific and successful and no doubt has written a few good romances, but OVERALL, his work is drippy, unoriginal ICK.

That’s not to say I HATED everything I’ve ever read by either of these two; just as I enjoyed Fine Things, Crossings, and Kaleidoscope in my DS phase, I also really enjoyed The Notebook and a couple of the others by Mr. Sparks, too. It’s also pretty cool that he is from a little nowhere town in North Carolina near where I went to high school and uses locations I really KNOW. Still, I have to be in a certain kind of mood to read a Nicholas Sparks novel,  and after reading the weighty Life after Life and enduring a troubling week of stomach flu, pneumonia, perforated ear drums, horrible sunburns, hotel stays, and soccer tournaments, I needed something that didn’t require too much thinking, you know? Safe Haven, currently a movie, fit the bill.

safe-haven-nicholas-sparks-paperback-cover-artAnd as far as these things go, the formula worked right from the beginning. Girl runs away to start a new life after experiencing an abusive relationship; guy loses wife and is raising two kids alone. They meet and have to learn to trust one another, etc. Drama ensues. Ex-husband finds them and is out for revenge, etc…no surprises EXCEPT…oh my goodness, there had to be an except! (and if you ever plan to read this, be aware…spoilers abound, blah blah).

EXCEPT: THE STUPID GIRL (who by the way is also an identity thief but there is apparently nothing wrong with that if you really need to do it) IS SEEING PEOPLE WHO ARE NOT THERE BECAUSE HER ONLY FRIEND IN TOWN IS THE GUY’S DEAD EX-WIFE.

Um. (Give me a minute to take a calming breath and grumble under my breath please.) Ok.

Excuse me? We had to have a ghost, Mr. Sparks??? Really? In all your infinite money-making, sappy drivel-writing wisdom, WHY? Because this book wasn’t cutesy enough? We needed the ex-wife to “choose” the new wife and save the family by making main character girl a ghost-seeing NUTSO? Not cool, man. I am not looking for inexplicable ghost drama in my drama, ok? FOR NO REASON.

The oh-my-god-I-am-seeing-and-having-conversations-with-a-dead-therapist-neighbor-who-might-also-actually-be-my-boyfriend’s-ex-wife-but-is-not-really-there NEVER GETS EXPLAINED AND ONLY APPEARS ON LAST FEW PAGES. Girl never decides to tell guy she has been seeing and talking to his ex-wife who he apparently calls a different name. OH, YEAH. MAYBE BECAUSE HE’D THINK YOU ARE TOO CRAZY TO HAVE AROUND HIS KIDS. And that right there, ya’ll, that is why I don’t read romance.

P.S. Kelley? We totally need an “Excuse me, WTF?” category in our tags for books like this one!

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