“Deep in her heart, she wasn’t exactly sure she deserved to be happy, nor did she believe that she was worthy of someone like him” ~~ Nicholas Sparks in Safe Haven
From Krista’s Perspective
I should start this review raving about its intriguing plot, about the suspenseful concern you feel for Katie, or about how this book is yet another fantastically romantic tale told by the one and only Nicholas Sparks. I should. But instead I am going to complain quickly.
SMALL SPOILER ALERT!!!! Katie cuts and dies her hair. I realize this is a small thing to complain about, but a large portion of the book goes into detail about the very emotional cutting and dying of her hair, the dire need for changing her appearance from blonde to brunette, how she was being hunted as a blonde, and how in order for her to change her identity she HAD to become a brunette. So why in every hyped up advertisement, commercial, or movie trailer is the actress playing Katie BLONDE?????
Ok. I just had to get that out and thank you for bearing with my OCD attention to detail. That over my offense that a story be altered in order to sell more tickets to a movie. Don’t get me started on Alex’s hair!
Safe Haven is yet another example of how skilled Nicholas Sparks is. His stories are not overly complicated or written in an overly complex style. Some may say they are overly simplistic, but when you are living an insanely hectic life sometimes its nice to pick up a book that keeps your attention in a simple way. The characters easily capture your attention, you will find yourself thinking “Awwwww” about Alex, despising the sadistic Kevin, and fearing for Katie’s safety. That being said, it is a fairly predictable plot so while Safe Haven will keep your attention, it may not WOW or shock you with the exception of a handful of surprising scenes.
What I really liked about the book was Sparks’ look into how love can fulfill you, consume you, or destroy you. The story covers two complete opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to love: the pure romantic kind to the sadistic, evil, and twisted kind. On one page you will read something sweet like, “This is what it feels like to really love someone, she thought, and to be loved in return, and she could feel the tears beginning to form. She blinked, trying to will them back, but all at once, they were impossible to stop. She loved him and wanted him, but more than that, she wanted him to love the real her, with all her flaws and secrets.” This will make you feel like there is that one person out there who will sweep you away, that true love can find you at the most random of moments, and that it can only be a positive thing.
But then the next page you will read this, “He knew exactly how hard to strike and she wondered where he’d learned that, whether it was something that all men knew, whether there were secret classes with instructors who specialized in teaching such things. Or whether it was just Kevin.” This will fill you with horror over how love can be so twisted that some can rationalize their violent actions and this will fill you with sadness that some people find themselves trapped in these kinds of situations. The book transitions seamlessly between romance and violence in a way that keeps you intrigued with both the positive and negative sides of love.
Overall, another great Nicholas Sparks book that I really enjoyed and will be an easy and entertaining read for you.
Plot – 4/5
Writing/Style/Form – 3/5
Characters – 4/5
Enjoyment/Entertainment Value – 4/5
Overall Score – 15/20
From Lauren’s Perspective:
I have to agree with Krista on this one. The hair thing bothered me. A lot. Way more than it should have. I don’t know why. Maybe because it was made such a big deal of in the book, Sparks brought it up again and again; all I know is it was irksome, and while I will likely still go see the movie, Katie’s hair colour will bother me the whole time. The movie directors seemed to have a problem with the very specific hair colours in this movie. Even Alex’s hair is supposed to be Gray. Couldn’t they have had at least given Josh Duhamel some sexy gray streaks?
Anyways, I’m done my rant and I will actually talk about the book now. Because surprisingly, it is about more than the colour of the characters hair, and it was actually quite good.
The thing is, that despite it being quite good, I always have a hard time with fully enjoying books like these. To me Nicholas Sparks isn’t a bad writer, you could even argue that he is quite talented, but he is also very obviously a formula writer. All of his books follow a very specific pattern. Someone suffers a tragedy, the tragedy seems to ruin their life until they meet someone and fall in love, the climax is usually something very dramatic and suspenseful, but all turns out happily in the end. He uses this formula time and time again, with the Notebook, a Walk to Remember, the Last Song, just to name a few. And if I’m being honest, it can grow wearisome, yet somehow it works for him. Just as with the YA fantasy I enjoy reading, Nicholas Sparks is a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine. He isn’t a brilliant writer, I would never say his books changed my world or made me think in some new and profound way, but at the same time, I do truly enjoy reading them. They’re pleasure reads and nothing more, and that’s okay.
I unfortunately don’t have much more to say about this book. The characters were well thought out, the plot was interesting and kept you reading, it was entertaining and a quick read that you could get through in a couple days easily, but there wasn’t much more to it than that. As I said, it’s not the kind of book that will win any awards for it’s beautiful language or intricate plot, but it was good. It was entertaining. Nothing more.
I will end with one small complaint about the book. The secret that was revealed at the end was a bit too much for me. It seemed out of place in the novel and a bit unbelievable no matter what your spiritual beliefs may be. The whole novel was put off as a dramatic novel where the strong and independent heroine falls in love and the bit of unrealistic magical realism thrown in just didn’t fit for me. I would go as far as to say it almost ruined the book but because the truth came out in such a small way at the end, I was able to let it go. I still think the book would have been better without it.
So, to close, if you want a nice, simple, easy read. Read it. It won’t take long and it is intriguing and fun. But if you’re like me, and you’re unsure about your feelings on books like these and want something with a bit more substance, a bit more depth, then I’d say skip it. With Sparks, if you’ve read one, you’ve read them all.
Plot – 3/5
Writing/Style/Form – 2/5
Characters – 4/5
Enjoyment/Entertainment Value – 4/5
Overall Score – 13/20