Review: Sweetly by Jackson Pearce

This book was a great YA read for Carl’s R.I.P VI challenge, and I’m so glad to be using the challenge to mix with my goal of reading more YA books! Checks the Goodreads summary, y’all:

Twelve years ago, Gretchen, her twin sister, and her brother went looking for a witch in the forest. They found something. Maybe it was a witch, maybe a monster, they aren’t sure—they were running too fast to tell. Either way, Gretchen’s twin sister was never seen again.

Years later, after being thrown out of their house, Gretchen and Ansel find themselves in Live Oak, South Carolina, a place on the verge of becoming a ghost town. They move in with Sophia Kelly, a young and beautiful chocolatier owner who opens not only her home, but her heart to Gretchen and Ansel.

Yet the witch isn’t gone—it’s here, lurking in the forests of Live Oak, preying on Live Oak girls every year after Sophia Kelly’s infamous chocolate festival. But Gretchen is determined to stop running from witches in the forest, and start fighting back. Alongside Samuel Reynolds, a boy as quick with a gun as he is a sarcastic remark, Gretchen digs deeper into the mystery of not only what the witch is, but how it chooses its victims. Yet the further she investigates, the more she finds herself wondering who the real monster is, and if love can be as deadly as it is beautiful.

OH MY GOODNESS. Okay, so, to begin with I’ve never read a re-telling of Hansel and Gretel (also, side note, I did think that Ansel, as a name, was a bit too close/too much of a weird-name-stretch to sit well with me, but I guess a name like Hansel is hard to find an equivalent of) so this one was especially interesting. I also loved the frequent mentions and descriptions of the chocolate treats at Sophia’s chocolatier. The book, while not the most beautiful I’ve ever read, certainly did a wonderful job of creating the small southern town, full of reputations and secrets, where the book takes place. So lets move on to a discussion of…

THE GOOD: Pearce does a wicked job of adapting fairy tales. Like, probably one of the best jobs of any retellings I’ve read in a good long while (she also has a retelling called Sisters Red which is a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood). The world that she creates is one in which werewolves and witches live (more on this in the BAD column) but is primarily a human world, full of people who hurt and make bad decisions and don’t listen to the people that care about them. It’s nice to read such a well-created world. Also, Gretchen is one bad ass chick! She learns to shoot multiple different guns, and ends up doing quite a bit of sharp-shooting, even saving Samuel a time or two, in a great damsel-in-distress reversal. Speaking of Samuel, it was such a joy to watch his hurt and his layers peel back, and I think it’s so rare to find a YA boy who can admit to having been in love (not the same as being in love, which they seem more than willing to own up to) and dealing with the hurt of that.

I also think that the ending was appropriate and fitting, if not the most YA friendly. I mean, **SPOILERS** after we find out that Sophia knows that the ‘witch’ is actually a group of werewolves, and that she’s been funneling the missing girls to their deaths at the hand of the Fenris, it’s hard to feel sympathy for her – even is her sister is being held hostage under threat of death. In the end, the only way to stop the pain for all of them – including Gretchen and Sophia, is to kill Sophia. It’s not your typical happy YA  ending, but one that was well written and true to the reality of the story. But poor Ansel. 😦 **END SPOILERS** Which brings us to…

THE BAD: MORE WEREWOLVES. Seriously. Also, this is not a spoiler, as you find out early on that the ‘witch’ Gretchen thinks took her sister is actually one of a group of werewolves. I’m just SO DAMN TIRED of 1.) werewolves and 2.) vampires in paranormal lit, especially YA paranormal lit. This was primarily my huge problem with the story as a whole – it would have been cooler if the witch had been an actual witch.

My other problem with the novel was the fact that the ocean was brought in to it. I mean, I get that the southern coast does have an ocean attached to it, but thinking of werewolves, which are land animals the last time I checked, having an underground ocean kingdom where they keep their victims…it’s too weird. It didn’t really seem to go anywhere, to me, and I wish it had been left out completely.

Again, this was an absolutely wonderful little joy of a book, and just look at that cover! $100 bonus bucks if you can spot the uber-creepy face in the trees! Hope you all are wrapping up your October reading on a good note, and looking forward to All Hallow’s Eve! Happy reading!

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Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman: Read-a-Long Week Five

Hello, all! I hope that your October has been treating you as lovely as mine has been so far, and that whatever you’re reading has wrapped you up in a lovely blanket of fall and cooler temperatures – finally! (I really, really love fall if my glowing adoration in prose the past few weeks hasn’t given that away!) I’m so glad to be writing another week’s worth of reflections on Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman! For my first ever read-a-long, I’d like to toot my own horn a bit and say that I think I’m doing great with the keeping on schedule and what not, but I really can’t even say that because that’s not important. What’s great is that I’m having such an awesome time discussing these stories and really do look forward every Sunday to seeing what everyone else has to say! This week, we looked at two poems and two short stories. Unfortunately, this was another rough week for me (see week three for another not-so-great time) as I can’t say I really cared for most of the works this week. We’re covering “Locks”, “The Problem of Susan”, “Instructions”, and “How do you Think it Feels” this week, and the only one that stuck with me in a really positive way was “Instructions”. But more on that later! Let’s begin at the beginning, shall we?

“Locks”

Alright, alright. So, this is a well-written poem. I can’t really knock it for what it does technically. It reminded me quite a bit of “The Hidden Chamber” in that it was a very prose-y poem, and I remember quite a few people saying that “Hidden Chamber” read like a kind of paragraph with weird line breaks. I feel like we get the same kind of thing going on here – not in a bad way, just a prose-y one. Anyway, the things (well, thing, really) I liked about this poem had very little to do with the actual Goldilocks-inspired content. I mean, I’m sorry, but Goldilocks was never one of my favorites as a kid, and even less so after I was put in to a HORRIBLE childrens theatre rendition in high school, so that part of this poem was just kind of whatever for me. But I really did thoroughly enjoy Gaiman’s on-going discussion in this poem of a theme he started, I believe, in “Flints of Memory Lane” – primarily, what is a story, how do we tell one, and what do we do with the stories we have? I had to go back and read the introduction, but I love what Neil says about he and his daughter still sharing stories, to this day, although the forms have changed, and I think there is importance in that. With all of the paper v. e-reader debates going on out there, its nice to think that stories will always be stories, regardless of the form they take (is an oral tradition less important than a written work is less important than a movie?) I also think that the camaraderie between the teller of the poem (presumably Gaiman, the way I read it) and this child being told, the answer and response and parental reflections on the way we hear our favorite stories differently as we grow up – to me, that’s where the real value in the poem lies and where Gaiman’s skills really show through!

“The Problem of Susan”

Okay, so I should probably say that right off the bat thus story totally spoiler-ed me on the ending of the Narnia series for me. It’s been one of those series that I’ve read bits and pieces of over the years, and always meant to finish, and it’s not this stories fault I haven’t finished them yet, but still. Totally through me for a loop right at the beginning.

While I really liked Gaiman’s focus on the importance of children’s literature (a belief I fully support!!) and the way he turns Susan in to a professor on the subject, but my enjoyment of the story pretty much stopped there. My mind was too busy dwelling on the spoiler effect and the fact that in this one Gaiman RUINED Aslan for me! I mean, the big majestic lion was one of my favorite characters as a child, and to suddenly see him lewd, sexualized, and eating children…I didn’t like it. I’m sure there’s a metaphor in their somewhere, but I don’t really think it’s one I care to unravel.

“Instructions”

In the introduction, Gaiman introduces thus poem simply as a set of things to do if you find yourself in a fairy tale. How good of a poem premise is that?! This one was my favorite for this week without a doubt. Not only do I love the premise, but I thought the imagery of walking through the house was a really good metaphor for how we read and discover fairy tales (and literature) when we’re young. I did think it was interesting to see another red, imp-ish face knocker, and was kind of wondering if a.) anyone else has noticed that these knockers seem to be a favorite of Neil’s, and b.) this is intentional! Unfortunately I don’t have much else to say about this poem except to repeat how much I loved it and to thank this poem for lightening what was an otherwise very bleak week of short stories!

“How do you Think it Feels”

Okay. So. There are really very few things in literature that bother me. I mean, the dirty bits and naughty language usually just kind of…is to me. A part of life in certain interpretations and representations of life. However, that doesn’t mean that I want Neil Gaiman in particular writing said naughty bits or dirty words. I mean, yes, I know this is the same man who wrote all the beautiful darkness of the Sandman series, but he also wrote Stardust and The Graveyard Book and I would just much rather think of him and his writing that way! I did like what the gargoyle over the heart stood for, but as with “Miss Finch”, I really just feel like I missed something here. A not great ending to a not great week.

In other reading news, I’ve begun reviewing for a new site called Custom Reads that functions kind of as a Pandora radio for books, only with real people imputing books to recommend rather than some functional algorithm. I’m super excited about the opportunity and just really hope it goes well! My public library book sale is also Tuesday of this week (at least, that’s when 5$ bag day is) so look forward to me vlogging (hopefully) my scores from that later this week. Happy reading!

Banned Books: Twilight by Stephanie Meyer (Yes, Really.)

I have to admit, when I saw that Twilight had made the list of the most challenged/banned books in 2011, I almost snorted Diet Coke out of my nose and wet my pants. Simultaneously. I mean, COME ON. This is a list that includes such amazing titles as The Great Gatsby, Beloved, and The Grapes of Wrath. And here it is, sparkly vampires and teen angst and all. And yes, I’ve read them. Every last word of every last one.In fact, I’m pretty sure you have to, so no summary. And if you haven’t (or even say you haven’t but really totally have, even going so far as to tape a print out of the cover of War and Peace over the cover of Twilight so you wouldn’t secretly be discovered), then you’re on your own!

Why would you ban Twilight? I suppose for the same reason as Harry Potter, but that’s an entirely separate issue we’ll have to get in to later*. But, here it is. Being challenged. Also here. And here. And, apparently, here. Man people are in a stink over Twilight. This post, in order to mix things up a bit, here is a top five list of the reasons that I think people wanting to ban this book are absolutely crazy.

  1. NOTHING NAUGHTY HAPPENS! I felt like this one needed to be in all caps, as this is the primary frustration I had with the book, as well as the number one reason I see no need to ban them. I mean, other than a rather disgusting scene involving popping eye blood vessels (that for a while turned me off to the idea of EVER having a baby, let alone one that’s half vampire), it’s all pretty PG. I mean, we get no sex, very little direct violence, very mild scary scenes, and just a whole lot of teenage angst. Unless I missed some huge death scene/battle/pornographic interlude between Edward and Bella, I just don’t see why this is all such a big deal.
  2. They’re make believe characters anyway. I mean, for the very few ‘death’ scenes we do get, there isn’t any actual blood. Unless, of course, Bella has just fallen down and hurt herself, and that’s just because she’s an idiot. When the vampires die, it’s all ‘off-camera’ and, compared to the things shown on TV, movies, and *gasp* the news, it’s all relative tame. See: my footnote on parental responsibility and the difference between reality and truth.
  3. The book champions not having sex until you’re married and was written by a Mormon mother. The religiously antsy should now be pacified.
  4. The Cullens, Carlisle especially, provide a really excellent platform for young people of faith to discuss issues like the soul, the afterlife, and the value of good and evil in the life we currently lead. Instead of fearing these conversations, you’d think that they’d be more encouraged amongst us all (those that want to have them, that is)
  5. The book gets kids reading. Alright, sure, I bet a bunch of books do that. Or do they? Think of all the major series that have up-heaved the children of America. Gotten them staying up until all hours of the night reading? Gotten them to read above doing things like watching TV or playing video games? Gotten them to bookstores at midnight, or hours before, gathered in anticipation? Yeah, I can only think of a few, too, and one of those few is Twilight. And there is merit in that.

Now, if only I didn’t think that Bella was a horrible heroine, or that Edward and Bella fashioned an outline for obsessive teenage relationships everywhere. But STILL! Banning Twilight? Really? Happy reading!

*: I don’t want to step on anyone’s beliefs here, so I’m largely trying to avoid a religious conversation. Mostly because I don’t really think the books are read like that by a wide cross-section of their audience, and also because I’m a Christian who doesn’t think this book violates and central tenants of the faith. The whole debate over things like Twilight and Harry Potter comes, for me, down to an issue of parental responsibility. As long as you can explain the different between real and fantasy, and that sometimes things happen in fantasy that wouldn’t be okay if they happened in real life, there shouldn’t be a problem. But that’s just this blogger’s humble opinion!

Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende

After running out of time to finish Island Beneath the Sea before having to return it to the library, I was just hooked enough on Allende’s style that I knew I had to have more, so I did a quick cull of my bookshelves and came up with Daughter of Fortune. The description of the book made it sound right up my alley:

“An orphan raised in Valpariso, Chile, by a Victorian spinster and her rigid brother, young, vivacious Elizabeth Sommers follows her lover to California during the Gold Rush of 1849. She enters a rough-and-tumble world whose newly arrived inhabitants are driven mad by gold fever. A society of single men and prostitutes among whom Eliza moves – with the help of her good friend and savior, the Chinese doctor Tao Chi’en – California opens the door to a new life of freedom and independence for the young Chilean. Her search for the elusive lover gradually turns into another kind of journey, and by the time she finally hears news of him, Eliza must decide who her true love really is.” – Back Cover

However, I must not have read this description that closely, because I was expecting this book to be much more about the relationship between Elizabeth and her young lover Joaquin Andieta. It’s not, to put it bluntly. Rather, the story is far more about the Elizabeth that the character finds within herself once she reaches California. The young girl spends most of her young life in Chile, raised by Miss Rose and her brother Jeremy. She is taught English manners, mannerisms, and forms of entertainment (i.e. singing ‘bawdy’ songs and playing the piano with a metal rod taped to her back to improve her posture). She is also, however, raised with a very Victorian concept of gender roles and what is/isn’t acceptable for men and women to do. This is, perhaps, the biggest leap that Eliza makes once she reaches America – disguising herself as a boy in order to avoid capture as a stowaway, and continuing the ruse so as to avoid making prostitution a career, she manages to learn that the proper mannerisms that she was taught are not the only way to live life, and that the world is too wide to be told that one must always remain proper in it. These discussions of gender issues and how early America was removed from such Victorian ideas (although, in all honesty, America wasn’t without it’s gender roles at the time. The fact that, had Eliza been a woman, prostitution would have been her only option for making her living speak to that) were perhaps some of my favorite parts of the book.

I also thought that Allende did a wonderful job of creating the atmosphere that must have existed in California during the time of the gold rush. In a land just won from Mexico, the discovery of gold literally threw open the shores to what was basically virgin territory. There is excitement and trepidation and greed and the promise of hope, all wrapped up in the lives of the thousands and thousands of people who came to make their dreams of riches and wonderful lives come true. However, to the flip side of this is also the disappointment that arose when the streets weren’t in fact paved with gold, and that racism was still overtly rampant in this new country. Allende did a marvelous job of creating these feelings in the reader, and its a time in American history I know find myself with a much greater interest in reading about.

However, there were also a number of problems with the book. I felt that Eliza and her Chinese doctor friend/almost lover/love of her heart Tao Chi’en were both rather flat characters – especially Eliza, which I felt was double disappointing, considering that she’s the main character. For a girl who is supposed to be finding herself, she does an awful lot of whining about how much she misses her lover and about how she should really be trying to find him instead of hanging out with prostitutes and falling in love with the Chinese doctor. I also felt like there was quite a bit more potential for the relationship between Tao and Eliza to deepen, but it never quite does. Yes, there are mentions of deeper feelings that may be lying just below the surface. But, for the most part, there just really isn’t a whole lot there. And it was disappointing – as if Allende self-edited herself out of the chance to explore this other side of the story.

Ultimately, at the end of the novel, I felt it was an okay book. Not great. I didn’t necessarily feel as though I’d wasted my time. But I wasn’t nearly as excited about it as I had been when I first opened the book. The sweeping location of the book lends it some excitement, but if you’re looking for some of the deeper and truly great characters that Allende creates, I’d suggest looking elsewhere. Happy reading!

 

Because I Want to Make Sure They’re Mentioned…

You guys know how summer is! At least, if your summer is anything like mine. The summer starts, and the days stretch out before you, and you go check out a pile of library books and open one and then…something happens. The great summer time suck, and suddenly it’s August and the books are way-overdue and you’ve read about 1% of all the great books you wanted to read. In order to try and keep this from happening this year, I wanted to make sure I mention all the books I’ve had the chance to start but, because of the very nature of summer, might not actually finish. I want to disclaim up front: NOT ALL OF THESE BOOKS ARE BAD!!! Some of them are great! I haven’t even officially abandoned all of them, but just want to guarantee at least a blog mention. So with that, here’s the books so far this summer I haven’t finished yet but really hope I do!

So far so good on my first Allende novel. I wanted to start with Eva Luna but this is what my library had and so, here we are! I’m only about 30 pages in to this one, and one of the central characters -a slave girl named Tete, has just made her first appearance. That’s not to say it’s been slow till now, though! We’ve met Toulouse Valmorain, his prostitute/companion, and the woman who is to become his future wife, a Cuban. The novel takes place in Haiti right before the Haitian revolution, and promises to span decades and distance, from Haiti to New Orleans and beyond, before the book is done and I can’t wait! The book is translated, which I always fear takes away a small bit of something, but short of becoming fluent in Spanish, I’m loving it so far! 4/5

Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Cape Town is the first book I’m reading for my public library’s armchair explorer adult summer reading challenge. Paul Theroux, who has spent a number of years of his life in the African wilderness teaching English to various tribes, decides he wants to go back to Africa, one to write a book about it and two because he just plain wants to travel. I find this honesty refreshing – it’s not often you’ll find a travel memoir written based on the premise of simply wanting to travel! I haven’t gotten much farther in to this one, so I’m hesitant to give judgment, but based on that premise and the fact that it’s in Africa, I feel comfortable making at least a slight leap of faith: 3/5

I mentioned Jonathan Safran Foer’s book Eating Animals at the end of a recent review, and I can promise you this is one I’ll definitely be finishing! In fact, I can pretty much guarantee you that this book will be making the “Most Important Books of My (and Probably Your) Life” list. I’m only about 30% of the way through, though, which is why I’m not giving it it’s full review quite yet. The book, inspired when Foer realizes he’s going to be a daddy and wakes up to the fact that food is important if he’s going to be giving it to his children, focuses on a number of things. At the heart of the book is an expose on factory farming and mass agriculture, and this part is full descriptions of the horribly, filthy, degrading and cruel things humans do to animals. This part gets my goat, and if you ever want to get in to it with me, lets debate factory farming. But Foer also focuses on how important food is to storytelling (and storytelling to food) and the fact that farming and food haven’t always been like this in America/the world. This part was perhaps the most refreshing, and I can’t wait to finish this book so I can give you guys the full word! Major5/5

This one might just have to be my first official abandon of the summer. And it’s not for lack of being awesome. The writing is casual enough to read like a story, and the history (medical, cultural, literal and artistic) of cancer is absolutely fascinating. But this book is ABSOLUTELY MASSIVE! Seriously, I’m 200 pages in and only in the early 1900s of the history. That means another 110 years to go. Damn. And it’s just too hard to stick with it, knowing that, when I have all the great books above to get through as well. Hopefully I’ll be able to come back to this one, but here’s hoping 4/5 (although abandoned).

What’s your summer reading like? Do you find yourself suddenly without time? What books do you have to abandon, despite how good they might be?

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld is the first in the Uglies series about two girls, Tally and Shay, who live in world where everyone is ugly until they turn 16. At sixteen, these girls and all their friends undergo an operation in which everything about them is transformed to fit the “standard” of beauty – symmetrical faces, large pupils, white teeth and smooth skin, all the “biological” markers of beauty. For the most part, everyone is happy to undergo this transformation – who would want to be “ugly” when being “beautiful” is as much a part of the aging process as the Bar Mitzvah. However, there are some who disagree – like Shay. For those who realize that perhaps there is a flaw in this “make peace by making everyone the same – and beautiful to boot”, there is a place that exists in both legend and, to the few in the know, reality. This place is nicknamed “the Smoke” because these are the people who choose to live like the “Rusties”, the name for all those who lived before the implementation of the operation. In other words, we’re the “Rusties” and the book makes a number of comments about the nature of beauty, peace, complacency, and the danger of not being aware of environmental dangers.

The book is an easy read. It’s very much so like Lowis Lowery’s The Giver or perhaps even The Hunger Games (although I cannot tell a lie – The Hunger Games was WAY, WAY better). There were a number of flaws that kept the book from being a favorite read, but it kept me more than entertained and led to a number of sneak-peaks during work while I was supposed to be…well…working. The flaws include things like the fact that the book was paced rather too quickly – within the first few chapters we have a main character rebelling against the system and trying to get others to join her, before the truly scary nature of the operation can be understood by the reader. Secondly, the plot twist that caused the downfall of the Rusties (which won’t be revealed here, for all future readers) seemed contrived and, perhaps most annoyingly – WE WEREN’T GIVEN NEARLY ENOUGH TIME TO FALL IN LOVE WITH THE LOVE-WORTHY MALE PROTAGONIST!!!!! I hate it when this happens!

To be honest, that last point is most likely because Tally, the main narrator, doesn’t realize she’s in love with David (leader of the Smoke, a nature-loving, handmade clothes wearing rebel extraordinaire) until almost the very end. But as a reader, I was in love with him from the beginning and just wanted more from him! The end of the book leaves the reader – and Tally – hanging in a way that is at once tense and yet predictable. There really is no “what happens next” cliffhanger. Rather, it’s a “this is whats going to happen, but what will happen after that” style story, which was built up just enough that I went ahead and read the second one anyway! All in all, I’d say the book was good and might be even better for those of you in more of a YA read – it’s entertaining, if nothing else!

In a more general life update, summer reading is going well, but not as well as it could. Does it ever? My niece has been staying with us for pretty much the whole month of June, and it’s meant a lot more Barbie playing and Spongebob watching than it has reading and reviewing, but as always I’m staying caught up with the Google Reader and waiting for the days when fitting in reading/reviewing is back on the regular agenda. Happy reading!

Review: A Walk to Remember

Nicholas Sparks, I will admit, is a purely guilty pleasure author for me. That isn’t to impute on his skill or on those who fully admire his work, but for me his books have always been more about escapist fluff than serious literature. Which explains, I think, why I picked up this slim little volume when I was trying so desperately to pull myself out of my reading slump. To be honest, it was a fully selfish choice – with dozens and dozens of books peering at me threateningly from the TBR shelf, I just wanted to curl into the book equivalent of the fetal position and read something I know wouldn’t really make me think, wouldn’t take too long to read (nothing gets you out of a slump better than the feeling of accomplishment of finishing a book!) and would take me down an emotional path I knew how to walk (I always cry, but I always know when I’m going to cry, so it’s beauty in the predictibility!)

A Walk to Remember, for the few of you who have managed to avoid either the book or the movie, is about a young man, Landon Carter, who falls in love at 17 with the preacher’s daughter, Jamie Sullivan. It’s late 1950’s Beaufort, South Carolina, and Landon is taught things about himself that he never anticipated when he realizes that he loves Jamie – an innocent, homely, kind and unfailingly Christian girl who he’s known his entire life but never really seen. Now, I have some issues with how heavy-handed the Christian aspects of this story can get, but, overall, it also played into the things I love most about the story – it’s a story of a boy with no faith learning how to have faith in something, which I think is a lesson that we all could learn just a bit more. **SPOILER** When he learns that Jamie has leukemia, he realizes that it’s time for him to own his own life and to be the person that so many around him see him to be. Her death is saddening, to be sure, but it’s also full of hope and the promise, for Landon, of a future better than it would have been otherwise. **END SPOILER**

I also love that this love story is almost an anti-love story, at least an anti-cliche love story. Landon falls in love with Jamie slowly, almost imperceptibly – he helps her out with the school play because he feels sorry for her, goes with her to help the orphans she volunteers with because he has a car, helps pick up the cans she puts out to collect money because he doesn’t know how to say no. And then, at the end of the day, he realizes that underneath all of his guilt and his “I just couldn’t say no”-ness, that it’s more than that. He’s fallen in love. The thing I love most about this is just how true to life it can be. Love isn’t always about grand moments of forehead-slapping revelation. I like to think that we’re in love with everyone from the beginning, and sometimes it’s just a matter of all the right incidents lining up. Kismet, if you will.

Now, if you can believe it, the movie version of A Walk to Remember is a rare exception to “the book is always better than the movie” rule, because I actually like this version (starring Mandy Moore and Shane West, directed by Adam Shankman) better than the book. In the movie, I think Jamie is given a bit more permission to be a teenager – she’s still pious and still has faith, but she’s not quite as ‘holier than thou’ as the Jamie in the book, and she has moments of crises of faith. In addition, I will say this only once – HOW DAMN CUTE IS SHANE WEST, FOR REAL?! It may be shallow, but damn if that wasn’t the thing that kept me running back to the theater and dropping all of my allowance money when this one hit the theaters.

I also liked the movie a bit more because the ending was a little less…intense than the ending of the book. In the book, because of Jamie’s disease, she gets to be incredibly sick and incredibly frail, to the point that even physical descriptions of her call to mind the pallor of illness and inevitable death. It’s part of what makes things so sad. But in the movie, while Jamie does make progressions to illness, she avoids things like wheelchairs and 24/7 nurse care (there is one particular scene in the book where Jamie is described as being fed through a tube which, thank God, was left out of the movie because, let’s be honest, it’s kind of creepy) and manages to be sick with dignity. While not true to the book, I felt that it gave the story the chance to focus on what really matters: not that Jamie is sick (although this is important!) but that Jamie’s sickness and, more importantly, life, has this huge effect on Landon.

All in all, while I knew both well enough to know that I liked the movie better, you just can’t be a wonderful Nicholas Sparks book to make you feel a bit better in the bookish soul! This one will go towards the Read the Book, See the Movie challenge, and I think I’m going to really, really enjoy getting to do more comparison reviews! Upcoming? “Nerdgasm: Vol. 1”, “Word Wanderlust: Vol. 1” and a review of The Lexus and the Olive Tree. Happy reading!

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