Monday, February 18, 2013

Predictability In a Raging Storm

Published: December 18th, 2012 (First published 2010)
Safe Haven
By: Nicholas Sparks
Grand Central Publishing
ISBN-13: 9781455523542

When a mysterious young woman named Katie appears in the small North Carolina town of Southport, her sudden arrival raises questions about her past. Beautiful yet self-effacing, Katie seems determined to avoid forming personal ties until a series of events draws her into two reluctant relationships: one with Alex, a widowed store owner with a kind heart and two young children; and another with her plainspoken single neighbor, Jo. Despite her reservations, Katie slowly begins to let down her guard, putting down roots in the close-knit community and becoming increasingly attached to Alex and his family.

But even as Katie begins to fall in love, she struggles with the dark secret that still haunts and terrifies her . . . a past that set her on a fearful, shattering journey across the country, to the sheltered oasis of Southport. With Jo's empathic and stubborn support, Katie eventually realizes that she must choose between a life of transient safety and one of riskier rewards . . . and that in the darkest hour, love is the only true safe haven.

     Katie has moved to Southport to escape from her past.  So when she arrives, she makes it a point to avoid anyone and anything that she could possibly form an attachment to, so that if she needs to run it will be painless.  But after months of routine, with no sign of the horrors she left behind, Katie begins to relax her guard.  And when she does, she becomes friends with her interesting/pushy next door neighbor Jo.  Also making his way into her life is general store owner and widower Alex and his two young children.  When Katie's old life comes blazing into her new one in terrifying and possibly deadly ways, can everyone find a way to come out of the storm in one piece?  Or will someone Katie loves not make it out alive?  So, I haven't been reading Sparks' most recent publications since The Last Song, which I loved and was horrified by the film it inspired (If I wanted to watch Miley Cyrus slouch and speak monotone, I'd watch Hannah Montana and get manic mood swings in the bargain!).
     I had previously tried to read this book and was unable to get into it enough to really get it off the ground.  But the movie once again looks like it might make me a believer, so I bought a copy and dove into it.  To put it lightly, not my favorite of his BY FAR.  But also not my least favorite.  Katie (Erin) is a pretty well-developed character, with a serious past and some real emotional scars.  Her not so great childhood and years as a battered wife to a well-respected cop were heartbreaking.  Kevin (her husband) was chillingly portrayed, even if his thoughts and actions did become very repetitive at a certain point.  Sparks really had me believing in the character though.  Honestly the part I liked least about this book was the supposed romance.  There was absolutely zero spark between Katie and Alex for me as a reader.  I was not impressed by their interactions and thought that his character was so bland he would be passed over in real life for being so boring.  Yes, he was a good guy, but that didn't mean Alex had to be so non-descript.  It seemed like Sparks did his absolute best to give us as little background as possible for him, which disappointed me.  The kids were cute, but really only served the purpose of trying to make Alex seem more appealing and harmless to Katie.  They weren't people, just words on a page.  The conclusion was no great surprise and someone died as per usual.  The author's attempt at a supernatural force playing a part in Katie and Alex's relationship was so contrived and saccharine it was laughable.  I was rolling my eyes at the book's end 'revelation to do with Alex's dead wife Carly.'  If you are into Sparks' books and don't mind predictability, with a lot of unnecessary and boring daily details, this is the one for you.

VERDICT:  2.75/5  Stars

**No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book is now available in stores, online, or maybe even at your local library.**

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