Dear John

Sidebar: With my own critique group forming to give me feedback on my own work, I am finding it harder to critique books that I have read. I have received amazing feedback on the pieces people have read, but it’s always hard to hear someone tear apart one of your reasons for breathing. With each book I have reviewed, I have been honest and up front with you – as I expect my critique group to be with me (and they have been).  Please read the books I review for yourself so you can form your own opinion. What I find to be a masterpiece, you might find to be horrible. As I’m sure many will find once my book is finished.

Up till this past week, I could say in all honesty that I had never read a Nicholas Sparks book. It seems that every book he writes turns into a movie, and not just any movie, but a movie where in the end love never wins and the two madly in love are left apart.

While in Target, I saw the book in the section of NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE, and I figured oh why not. To this day I have yet to read The Notebook (as well as see the movie) and figured I could use a good romance. I knew people that went to see the movie, but I held back on watching it myself because I wanted to read the book first. I’m glad I did.

As I mentioned, I am new to the world of Nicholas Sparks. I am not familiar with his writing style and I cannot compare books of his, as this is my first read. From what I do know about him, he is from North Carolina, near the beaches, which is cool since I have vacationed in OBX many times over. What I found when I read this book was the story from a man’s perspective, and a sad one at that. Apparently I am on a masochistic journey to cut, tear, rip, and butcher my romantic heart into bits. This past weekend I have watched The Time Traveler’s Wife, Remember Me, and now I have read and seen Dear John.

I love reading books told from the first person perspective – getting that opportunity to be inside their head and have to figure things out along the way as they do, just makes the reading that much more realistic and exciting to me. Some people don’t like that – well I’m not one of them.

From the beginning of the book, I was let down knowing what was going to be the outcome of the romance after reading the Prologue. Yet, for some reason my love-thirsty-glass-half-full personality turned each page hoping that what I had become privy to in the prologue would not be the case. I hoped that the story didn’t end with the prologue, but did what my novel is doing – give you an idea of what’s going on towards the end. I hoped that by the last page, love would conquer all. In a sense, it did. Just not how I wanted it to.

There were times where I felt like what John was saying was a huge run on sentence. Maybe it’s because I’ve never read a story from a male perspective (with the exception to Midnight Sun). Maybe it’s because this character was full of passion and loved Savannah so much. He seemed to ramble in his head, but maybe that was because that’s who Nicholas Sparks made him to be. I felt like the way they professed their love for one another to be rushed, and more time could have been spent expressing their feelings for one another, and less time describing other things. This coming from the person that wrote a similar situation in her own novel – irony at work.

The ending was not one that I liked at all – hopeless romantic here. I kept turning the pages, hoping among hope that John Tyree would catch a break. I found myself resenting Savannah as well as John for refusing to man up and speak his feelings like he did when they first met. The plot twist with Savannah, I recognized from the beginning as soon as they were introduced in the beginning of the book. I saw it coming 100 pages away, but still wanted to think things would be different. I felt sorry for Savannah by the end of the book, because it was obvious to me the choices she made were not the right ones. I think she knew it too, but was too much of a good-ole’fashioned girl to change it, and John cared too much for her to act on what he knew.

If you are a hopeless romantic, such as myself, read this book. If you like first person perspectives, read this book. If you want to learn about 9/11 and the way soldiers felt, read this book. This book was a fast read (I probably read it from cover to cover in 3 hours) and in the end I would buy a sequel or any other book Nicholas Spark would/could write including this character. 

At one point in the book, I had to put it down and walk away. I was angry and slightly freaked out. The character he was describing was very similar to the one I was writing myself. This character was in the military, had a temper, had tattoos, and professed his love to basically a stranger. It really freaked me out. I immediately thought of the masses of people that would try to tell me I was copying Nicholas Sparks. Then I thought about it – how many books out there have romances similar to this one? TONS. I realized my story is very different, and if anything the fact that Nicholas Sparks book is now a movie, just goes to show the character I developed was a good one. I sat back down and finished the book. This book pulled at my heart strings, making me feel a whole range of emotions – happy, sad, mad, depressed, hearthbroken. I was strong though – I didn’t cry (in either the book or the movie — the heart does hurt a bit right now though).

Watching the movie was so different. I love to watch the movie “version” after reading a book. I can tear apart the differences. Sometimes it upsets me; sometimes I like it. Both emotions were evoked in this movie. I was annoyed that there wasn’t even a two minute blurb spent explaining John’s past, he didn’t have the tattoos on his shoulders that he had in the book (you know me – tattoo FREAK), and the amount of time he spent with Savannah was decreased. A lot of major pieces were left out of the movie that were in the book, and a lot of characters were changed in the movie (John was born in 1980 instead of 1977, Tim is Alan’s dad and not brother, etc). He got shot in the movie, which didn’t happen in the book, and he talked to Savannah more on the phone while stationed in Germany. However, I liked the ending to the movie better – the movie was made for people like me. People searching for that Happily Ever After – knowing that through all of the problems people deal with, good things can happen to good people. I loved the movie a totally different way than I loved the book.

With both I was slightly sad when they were over. Evoking emotion in the right places, I highly recommend both.

Not a lecture. Just a thought.

I was thinking of reading The Lovely Bones next, but after watching The Time Traveler’s Wife, it’s the next book I’m going to buy. If you know of any really good romances, paranormal stuff (YA included) that you want me to read and possibly review – let me know in the comments!

3 thoughts on “Dear John

  1. I haven't read any Nicholas Sparks yet but it sounds worth checking out. For book suggestions, you have to read the Lovely Bones. I loved it a lot more than I expected and I'd be interested to see what you think. One of my all time favorite books is White Oleander by Janet Fitch. If you haven't read you really have to. The Virgin Suicides is another one of my favorites. For more paranormal YA stuff, I loved The Silver Kiss and Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause. They are extremely quick reads and along the lines of Twilight. The Silver Kiss is a vampire story and Blood and Chocolate deals with werewolves.

  2. I really liked this book. Of course, the I didn't like the ending, but I enjoyed the book as a whole. I haven't seen the movie yet, waiting for it to come out on Netflix.

    I would recommend Beautiful Creatures. I'm reading it now and I'm almost finished. I am loving it! Its about witches (called Casters in the book) falling in love with Mortals. I think it takes place in Virginia or North Carolina, somewhere around there. It is also told from the perspective of the guy and it is a young adult novel. I'm loving it and am highly pleased with it!

  3. I'm glad you liked it!!! But you should definitely read The Notebook (when you're ready for another giddy romance). It made me both laugh and cry. And I prefer the book over the movie. (There is a sequel to this book called The Wedding)

    I felt the same way about the movie, I felt it left so much out, and if you didn't read the book, the movie wouldn't make as much sense as it does when you know the book.. you know??? Lol.

    But I'm not complaining about having to look at Channing Tatum for 1.5 hours (or whatever it was) thats for sure!! I also enjoyed Seyfried and Tatum's chemistry!!

    I felt the same about the ending too, it was a good happy ending, just not the happy ending I had in mind, but good for John, I don't know if I'd be able to be that way about love if I were in his position…

    Another read suggestion I have for you is My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult. The read is from different perspectives (not as confusing as I found the Time Traveler to be, since that changes times), so My Sister's Keeper has multiple perspectives, but is in chronological order. Without giving away what it is, the book is about morals. The two main character's both have good and justified reasons for what they believe in, so whose "right" morals do you decide on… READ IT.. its controversial, tugs and your heart, and its a good read (warning: tear jerker, and you may not like the ending – but still a good book)

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