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As many of you can see, I've been a pretty terrible blogger lately! What can I say...Life.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Book Review #1: "The Last Song" by Nicholas Sparks

Before I write my first official book review for this blog, I just want to make a quick note on how I write book reviews. My intention will either be to get you to read this book or save you from it (unless I’m really stuck on the fence with no signs of falling either way). I’ll note its high marks and low marks, but I won’t give you a long summary, just my opinion. I may even give you ratings on certain aspects at the end. :)

With that in mind…

Title: The Last Song
Author: Nicholas Sparks
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Edition: First Mass Media Tie-in Edition: March 2010
Back Cover Summary: Seventeen-year-old Veronica "Ronnie" Miller's life was turned upside-down when her parents divorced and her father moved from New York City to Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. Three years later, she remains angry and alientated from her parents, especially her father...until her mother decides it would be in everyone's best interest if she spent the summer with him. Resentful and rebellious, Ronnie rejects her father's attempts to reach out to her and threatens to return to New York before the summer's end. But soon Ronnie meets Will, the last person she ever thought she'd be attracted to, and finds herself falling for him, opening herself to the greatest happiness--and pain--that she has ever known.


Nicholas Sparks was one of the last authors I thought I would ever read. I judged his work harshly according to the movie adaptations of his novels (most of which made me cry so hard it made me sick. I was drowning in SAP!). However, after seeing “The Last Song” in theaters, I decided to give the book a try (regardless of Miley Cyrus needing a serious acting lesson in anger). By the second page, I was content to spend the entire day reading.

I was delighted to find that the movie version touched upon mere tenths of the plot in the book. There were so many new subplots and subtle differences to the main plot. Also, instead of spending most of the time in Ronnie’s perspective, like in the movie, I was able to spend time in Steve’s, Will’s, and Marcus’ heads, allowing me to get to know them far better.

High Notes: I must commend Sparks on his dialogue. (God only knows why he chose to use so little in “Dear John.”) The dialogue was fantastic with each character sounding consistent and realistic. Ronnie always speaks her mind, no matter how blunt, honest, or harsh. Steve shows utter compassion and love for his children. Will continues to be patient while trying to figure Ronnie out. Marcus exposes more facets of his slimy nature. In the end though, it is Jonah that really shines. Since we aren’t allowed chapters in his perspective, we depend on his innocent quips to fall in love with his darling self. (Jonah grinned broadly. “That. Was. So. Cool,” pg. 356.)

Another high note were the emotions the book was able to provoke. The feeling of falling in love without even knowing it and also losing those you know you love, but thought would never leave you. Yes, I cried, but it wasn’t the rousing music building in the background or special effects that caused me to do so. It was the simple lines that reminded you of the small things you should cherish in life: the hugs from Dad, the kisses from Mom, and the meaningful words from someone you love.

Low Notes: No matter how much more I enjoyed this book over the movie adaptations of Sparks’ novels, I do understand where all the SAP! comes from. No matter how hard Sparks may try, he can’t help but ruin beautiful moments with one line of corny SAP!  (Case-in-point, “He [Will] pulled her [Ronnie] close and kissed her beneath a blanket of stars, wondering how on Earth he’d been lucky enough to find her,” pg. 248.) In my opinion, this destroys the mood. Love is realistic. But love under a “blanket of stars,” with just the right amount of humidity in the air, and a subtle glow encompassing the couple is NOT.

The only other low note was times when Will’s inner monologue turned into a deep analysis of the kind of girl Ronnie was or wasn’t. Lines such as “She [Ronnie] didn’t put others into neat little boxes because she didn’t put herself in one, and that struck him [Will] as refreshing and different,” pg. 80. I’m no boy, but as far as I know, I haven’t found a single one that thinks like this. In truth, if I didn’t know any better, I would swear that Nicholas Sparks was a woman. (Did you know George Elliot, the famous English Victorian novelist, was a woman writing under a man’s name?)

All in all, I enjoyed reading the book. I could see myself reading it again in the future. (That’s really saying something.) And I would recommend it in passing to friends.


Character Development: 5/5
Dialogue: 5/5
Prose: 4.5/5
Believability: 4.5/5
Style and Grammar: 4/5
Overall Rating: 92% Satisfaction!

You can also find this book review at: http://forblogs.blogspot.com


  1. Well, I am not the biggest fan ever of Nicholas Sparks, mostly for the low-point reasons you share here. You are better at seeing the good than I. Sap is not usually my thing. At least not obvious sap. That said, I did rather enjoy "Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas". Have you read that? Not your typical James Patterson novel, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

    Thanks for your review. If I run across this book, I may read it rather than disregard it because of the author.

  2. See, that's how I viewed it before as well. I just wasn't interested in a sappy, make-me-cry-all-over-myself paperback. But this one surprised me. And maybe it was because I could really relate to the younger main characters. I'm close to the point they are in in their lives in the book (going to college, facing growing up, dealing with others their age.) That could have been a contributing factor. However, like I mentioned in the high points, I also loved the dialogue and was really hit when the book talks about everything you'd miss if you were losing someone you loved. That's why I cried (SAP! usually makes me laugh and I only had to chuckle a few times when Sparks ruined the moment.)

    Anyway, I'm happy to see you may be open to it, and now that the mass production paperback is on sale, you at least won't have to spend a lot to see if you'll like it or not :)

    No, I haven't read "Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas." I've read other James Patterson novels (mostly the ones for young adult. (You'll probably start to see a trend when I talk about young adult novels. Even though I am 22 going on 23, I still LOVE the yound adult section.)) I will certainly pick that book up though and read the back and a few pages the next time I am in the bookstore.

    Nice hearing from you :)

  3. I've never read any of his works, of course I'm horrible with names and titles, so it's possible I have and just don't remember.

    Then again I can read about anything, I think there's only one book in my life I've been totally unable to read, and amazingly enough it wasn't the 800 pages of The Scottish Chiefs which I actually enjoyed.

    If you're ever at a lack for something to read (as if lol) check out the book list on my page, they're all pretty unique takes on the whole urban fantasy/fiction genre which is awesome since so much of it is same ole same ole.

  4. Agreed. I can read just about anything as well, especially if I push myself. However, I am trying to get over that (Ha!) I've forced myself to read some terrible books because I have this issue with finishing things I start. I know that should be a good thing, but as far as reading is concerned, it's not.

    In my lifetime (a rather short existence comapared to many,) I have been able to put down 2 books without finishing them. I consider these two books to be milestones. I realized that life is too short to read books that you don't enjoy. However, that doesn't mean I'm completely cured. On occasion, I will still read something I didn't enjoy overall, but usually there is some element that keeps me going. Nevertheless, I should still learn to let go of more things. (Like ripped poster of the Backstreet Boys that still resides in an undiscovered corner of my closet. :))

    Anyway, I will certainly check out your book list! I need one of those on here.

  5. I like that you give a precise percentage rating.

  6. Thanks! My head always thinks better in percentages rather than fractions so giving the overall rating made sense. I'm glad to see you noticed.

  7. I'm most curious as to where the ".2" came from, haha.

  8. Yeah, I don't know. lol. I must have been typing fast.

  9. Aww, you should have kept it.

  10. lol. I'm going to miss it too. But I also want the stats to be accurate.

  11. The more digits you add after the decimal, the more and more accurate it becomes, lol.

  12. Wondering if I am the only one chuckling because of "decimal" and then "point", LOL. I'll going back to my little corner now. Don't mind me. :D

  13. Ha ha! At first I didn't know what you were talking about. I thought I left the decimal in the blog. But I get it now Nd it made me laugh. Please don't hide in a corner unless you have Internet access there and can keep chatting on the blog. :)

  14. I love chick lit. I guess that's the girlie-girl in me. I first discovered Sparks when I saw "A Walk to Remember," although I didn't realize it was him until "The Notebook" came out. I read the book then saw the movie and really enjoyed both, despite having never been on a date let alone in love. I'm currently in the middle of "The Last Song" between reading textbooks and catching up on my magazines. As a Disney fan who is easily pleased with what they put out (despite reading commenters' negative opinions of the company), I'm interested in seeing the movie because of Miley (I know the movie isn't Disney but the company is what skyrocketed her career). The differences between the movie and book that you pointed out are what I've noticed between reading the book and seeing the trailer. Kind of confusing when reading the book.

  15. You'll almost have to consider the book and the movie as two different entities or at least two different versions. The movie is well balanced, but in order to do that, they cut many of the subplots from the book and introduced characters at different times or made them responsible for different things in order to make the movie feel whole.

    It's a classic example of what movies must sacrifice from the book so that they can make sense and get the big stuff in in the time allotted.

    All in all, I really enjoyed both. I think this was a good step for Miley. However, her Disney training did not teach her how to get angry. I think that's about all she could have done better in the movie. Besides, the character of Ronnie was made for her, so she had to be the one to play her. :)

  16. Fantastic review!

    "In truth, if I didn’t know any better, I would swear that Nicholas Sparks was a woman."I just had this exact same thought the other day."

    After a lot of going back and forth, I ended up spending my free movie rental coupon from erewards on The Last Song the other day.

    I too cried my eyes out...

    I agree with much of what you are saying, and after reading your review I think I might have to pick up a copy.

  17. Ha Ha! I am so happy I am not the only one! I'm glad you enjoyed the movie and that my review has possibly convinced you to pick up a copy. You know you can get the book for really cheap, like 4 or 5 dollars if you pick up the mass production paperback!

    Definately read the book after seeing the movie. It's so enjoyable to compare and contrast the two!

    Have you read Nicholas Sparks before? I would like to read another one of his books, but I would like one with younger characters again. Do you know of any?

  18. Thank you so much for this review! It is thorough and complete, and I love how you don't give a loooooong summary of the book, but rather your own thorough opinions. :)
    I've been meaning to watch the movie and and read the book as well, and now that you've mentioned it here, I think I will. :-)
    I DO like Sparks' work. :-) I am currently reading "Dear John".

    Once again, thanks for the review!

    -The Creative Muslimah

  19. The Creative Muslimah...Thank you. I never liked it when reviews gave me a huge summary of the book either. I'm like "If I really want to know what the book is about, I will read it. I just want to know if it is any good!" lol. So, when I stared writing my own book reviews (this is the first) I decided I would write thekind of review I wanted to read and ta-da!

    Defintely read the book and watch the movie! I even suggest that you watch the movie first. For some reason that's really been working out great for me.

    I think I will read more Nicholas Sparks books, but I do like it when the characters are under 28 or so. Then, I can relate to them more. Do you know of any of his other books (besides The Last Song and Dear John) that are like that?

  20. Yes, I must agree with everything you say :-)
    Personally, I enjoy reading the book first, and then the movie simply because the book is the original work, and the movie is based upon the book, so I know what happens in those "missed out" scenes which they sometimes do not include in the movies.

    I believe that the characters in "The Notebook" by Sparks are under that age, and I agree with you, it's much easier to set yourself in their head/world/mind when they are closer to your own age. :-)

    -The Creative Muslimah

  21. Yes, that's how I usually am too, especially with works like Harry Potter and The Golden Compass, but for some reason it has really been working out to watch the movie or tv show first. Also, did you know that Nicholas Sparks wrote the screenplay to the movie before writing the book? Interesting fact!

    Yes, I think you are right that they are younger. Thanks for the suggestion!

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