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Book Review: The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks

The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks Book Review: The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks


Before reading The Lucky One, my knowledge of the books of Nicholas Sparks was limited to what I knew of the many film adaptations of his work. I knew to expect passionate romances against all odds, characters split apart by dark secrets, gasping professions of love followed by some sort of lengthy embrace (usually involving rain or someone being lifted in the air and spun around), progressive illnesses, devoted animals, and whichever teen actor is currently Hollywoods most beloved. I also knew to read with a box of tissues at hand.

And indeed, this novel follows the pattern I expected, although fortunately without a Miley Cirus in sight, and rather reminds me of Diane Chamberlains work.

Logan Thibault has returned from Iraq uninjured and unscathed, which is more than can be said for those who worked alongside him. Logan is without a doubt, a lucky guy. But Logans luck seems to be tied to a photograph of a young woman found during one of his patrols: a photograph clearly dropped by someone else in his platoon. Someone who hasnt come forward to claim the picture. And so, upon arriving back in the States, Logan sets out on a pilgrimage to find the mysterious girl in the pictureboth to thank her for her part in keeping him safe, and to learn more about the fallen soldier who was the original owner of the picture.

Elizabeth Beth Clayton is a young divorcee who splits her time between working as a primary school teacher, helping her elderly but sprightly mother run a dog training kennel, and looking after her son Ben. Beth has almost everything shes always hoped for, except, of course, an enduring romantic relationship. But after a series of attempts at dating that have all ended in disaster, Beth has resigned herself to a life of singledom. Until, of course, the mysterious Thibault arrives on the scene, capturing the hearts of Beth and her sonand even Beths mother.

But Beths ex-husband, the creepy Keith Clayton (who reminds me of the terrifying Lou Ford from'The Killer Inside Me) has other ideas about Beth getting involved in a romantic relationship. Over the years hes made his thoughts about this amply to clear to Beths potential suitors, but Logans persistence means that Keiths usual scare tactics might not be enough

The Lucky One is ripe for film adaptation, and indeed is presently showing at the cinemas, but I cant help but feel that its a book thats almost suited better to the big screen than it is to print format. It begins slowly, setting up the series of seemingly unconnected characters and gradually building the links between them, before building to a dramatic life-or-death conclusion that makes for the perfect Hollywood climaxand why, yes, theres rain involved. (I can picture the fade-out, followed by the truth-is-revealed happily-ever-after epilogue as I write this.)'On the page, however, the ending feels rushed: what would take a good ten minutes or so in a film is covered in a mere few pages, and the summary-style epilogue that follows doesnt help matters.

Although I did enjoy this one, I cant help but feel that it seems a little lacklustre: the plot is fairly slight, and relies on the multiple point-of-view approach to pad it out. The two mysteries that are to be inevitably uncovered by the end of the bookthe fact that Logan has carried a photo of Beth for years, and that of Keiths nasty wayspack less of a punch than the narrative requires, and Beths reaction to both is necessarily little more than a cursory how could you?. Given the set-up in the initial chapters, it just feels as though there should be something'more here.

I found the progression of the relationship between Beth and Logan in this one a little fast, as well: theyre professing their love for each other within a few days of meeting, yet theres not much here that speaks of anything akin to passionate romance. Their relationship feels more safe and convenient than anything, rather than the all-encompassing love and obsession that it seems that were meant to be witnessing. Perhaps its this that detracted from the tension of the black moment between the two.

Its a paint-by-numbers novel, sure, but in all, its is a solid read, and certainly lends itself to a bit of afternoon-page turning on a rainy day (although Id avoid reading it in a tree-house if I were you). Its not enough to evoke the famed Sparks-inspired tears, but theres enough here that Id be interested to peruse Sparkss substantial back list. ''

'Rating: star Book Review: The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparksstar Book Review: The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparksstar Book Review: The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparksblankstar Book Review: The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparksblankstar Book Review: The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks (good)

With thanks to Hachette Australia for the review copy

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The Lucky One'trailer:

Other books by Nicholas Sparks:

The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks1 Book Review: The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks'Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks Book Review: The Lucky One by Nicholas SparksThe Notebook by Nicholas Sparks Book Review: The Lucky One by Nicholas SparksA Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks1 Book Review: The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks

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  1. I read The Notebook long before the movie came out, and it was also better suited for the big screen. Maybe that is why all of his books have eventually found themselves there, they read more like a screen play than a novel.

  2. You write such good reviews! I may never be able to look at a Nicholas Sparks twirling in the rain scene again

    I am in awe of good reviewers. Im terrible at the kind of analysis that makes the best reviews which is a bit of a worry, given that I majored in English. (Literary analysis is different. Thats what I tell myself.)

    I do recognise this phenomenon, though. I read The Devil wears Prada after I saw the movie and thought that it made a much better movie than book. I may have been biased, as I was expecting it to be better, as books usually are, if only because they can put so much more in, but if anything the movie made more of the material than the book did. Interesting.

    Thanks for the review!

    • Stephanie /

      Thanks for your lovely words, Imelda! I do wonder whether movie rights are something that authors are quite conscious of these days. Ive also heard of writers who strive to write cinematically, which no doubt makes their books well-suited to the big screen. Its curious to think of the novel as extending beyond just its paper pages now and into a much larger text that includes both the book and film.

      • Its an interesting question. A lot of writers (including me) benefit from learning from people who teach screenwriting, as movies have to be very clear about goals and motivation and of course, have to show rather than tell. These things are often tricky elements for novelists, as we dearly love our inner stories and can get tangled in them to the detriment of the story sometimes.

        But they are different media. A good novel may tell the same story as a good film but they arent the same thing and I think writers forget that at their peril.

        • Stephanie /

          Great point, Imelda. Ive definitely looked to screenwriting when it comes to plotting and narrative arcs, as theyre often quite a good deal more explicit than those in a novel.

          I think the nature of film means that those internal battles have to be waged in a way that can be viewed by the audience (ie, in an external way, cf with something like a voiceover), and there are certain shorthand signifiers for those sorts of things. The kissing in the rain scene for example, is definitely a great shorthand for together at last against all odds!

  3. Ill pass on the book, I dont enjoy Sparks writing, and am so over the formula but Ill watch the movie for the Zac Efron eye candy.

    • Stephanie /

      Im not sure I can see Efron in this onethe MC is meant to be in his late twenties or early thirties, and I cant help but see Efron as about 16

  4. Oh, im a sucker for a soppy romance but Id only read a couple of Sparks books (The Notebook and A Walk To Remember) prior to picking up The Lucky One. There are certainly some parts of the plot, especially the POV of Keith (which i could have done without) that were sketchy and the epilogue was a rushed wrap-up. But for me, it was a book that just fitted with me perfectly on the right day and in the right kind of mood. Enjoyed reading your thoughts

  5. Im a pretty avid Nicholas Sparks fan, so Ive read a lot of his books. Having written and published my own, I feel like his work has taught me a lot about writing a good love story. I agree that Keiths point of view was something I wasnt as into, but since hes not really intended to be a sympathetic character, I think this might have been intentional on Sparks part. It was also interesting to see a love story about a relationship that seemed safe and convenient, as opposed to portrayals of all-encompassing love that seem based purely on quick physical attraction.

    • Stephanie /

      Thanks for visiting, Jeff! Sparks definitely has a knack for writing stories that resonatehes definitely one of the more successful writers writing what Id call the womens fiction genre today.

      Keiths foulness definitely helped to create a sense of empathy towards those that hed wronged, but I felt that there was so little to like about him that it was a struggle to read his POV scenes. Most likely it was indeed deliberate, but it made for some challenging reading at times.

      I like your point about the safety/convenience of the relationship, and now that I think about it, I do think that this is a common element in romancebut one that is usually hidden beneath the veneer of *wham, bam, attraction*.

  6. Yeah, I cant stand wham-bam-thank you maam (or sir) in life or in books. Thats why whenever I write my love story novels, I make sure theres real genuine love behind it all.

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