It is what it is and what it is is Nicholas Sparks. I certainly would not even argue that it is Sparks at his best. All the same, I enjoyed the book. I live in the south so I like books about the south. I savor the occasional romance novel and in both of those categories Sparks delivers. In the case of this book, I saw the movie first so my images of the characters were already fairly well established.
Aside from the romance, the story consists of what are some somewhat complicated characters and relationships. There is the girl who hates her ex but knows she must get along with him. There is the ex who is despicable but who without a doubt loves his son. There is the son who tries to fit in but seems to have an old soul. There is the grandmother who tries not to be a burden while acting as a support system. There is the “drifter” who happens upon this little southern town and for some mysterious reason decides to stay. I guess a major complaint of the book is that the characters are supposed to be complicated but when they are spelled out like I have just done they don’t seem complicated at all.
Sparks’ first success The Notebook was great because it actually was based on real-life characters and true circumstances. The movie that was made to go along with his first success had some talented actors in it. Thus, the Nicholas Sparks romance book to movie franchise was born. Since then, as he is running out of real-life stories to write about, his stories are becoming more and more cookie cutter. His books when made into movies have continued to draw talented actors and the movie The Lucky One was no different. Disclaimer: while I do feel that the actors in The Lucky One are talented in their acting abilities, especially Blythe Danner, I also consider good looks a talent. I guess that the “talent” of the actors in this movie was not enough to carry it because it only scored a 20% on rotten tomatoes. The main consensus is that if you like Nicholas Sparks then you would like the movie but, if not, then you will be disappointed. Well, I guess I like Sparks because I did enjoy the movie. I also have a somewhat serious but under wraps crush on Zach Efron. Shh!
While I liked Zac Efron in the movie and I do agree that in the role he was successfully able to break out of his shiny, teen throb reputation, he wasn’t quite scruff enough to pull off the “hippy, drifter”. I feel that Taylor Schilling was well cast, although it is difficult to reconcile the sweet, innocent character she plays in this movie with the lesbian prisoner that she play in Orange Is The New Black. While the essence of the salty grandmother was effectively captured by Danner, the stroke bit of the story was totally played down.
My main issue with the movie is (without giving away too much) that the ending was changed so that the great moment of suspense created by Sparks was completely left out. I feel that was a really poor decision on the part of the screenwriter and director. And, my main issue with the audiobook is that I really did not like the narrator. I think he made the women characters sound like transvestites.
The Bottom line is: If you like Nicholas Sparks, then you will like the book (stay away from the audiobook) and the movie, just perhaps not the ending.