Monday, May 15, 2017

Nicholas Sparks: Two by Two

Nicholas Sparks is, you know, Nicholas Sparks.  His writing is a little cheesy and campy and you pretty much know when you start reading one of his novels that you're going to shake your head and think, "no guy is really like this" at least 238203482 times.  Because, seriously.  NO GUY is like the guys in Nicholas Sparks books.  And I say this as the current girlfriend of a certified Really Great Guy.

Anyway.  Goodreads sends me an email everyday to let me know the deals out in cyberland . . . what can I download at a good price?  A few weeks ago it was Two by Two at the bargain price of just $1.99.  Written by Sparks?  I'm in!  I purchased and it became my gym read. 

And . . . I don't know where to begin.  The thing is, Nicholas Sparks will always be the amazing love storyteller behind such works as Message in a Bottle and The Wedding (side note: I know everyone loves to bring up The Notebook.  But when it comes to the actual BOOKS, The Wedding is heads and shoulders and knees and toes and errrrraythang else above The Notebook.)  He is NICHOLAS SPARKS and if a good sappy love story is your bag, baby, then you shouldn't have a cross word to say about him.

Until you read Two by Two.

Sparks tries something different in this novel.  Rather than telling the story of two people falling love, it's the story of two people falling apart. 

The story begins with a young couple - Russ and Vivian Green - anticipating the birth of their first child. They have a girl named London and both are absolutely smitten by her, adoring her.  Vivian quits her job to be a stay-at-home-mom and Russ, raised lower middle class, continues a job in the advertising field while worrying about savings and just providing for the future of his family.  When it's basically glaringly obvious that he's going to lose his job, Russ decides to strike out on his own and open an advertising agency.  Vivian resents him for this and soon goes back to work herself.  She travels often during the week, thrusting Russ into the role of single dad.  His relationship with London strengthens as his with Vivian deteriorates. 

So this book is just . . . too long.  It's almost as though our guy Nick was given a "must have __x__" pages assignment and didn't want to use 18-point Times New Roman font so he added in a ton of unnecessary-ness.  I found myself glossing over several paragraphs because, well, how boring can you be?  It seriously took forever for Vivian to finally leave Russ.  I KNEW THAT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN BY PAGE TEN.  Why did you drag it out foreeeeeeeeeevvvvvverrrrr, Nick Sparks?  Why?

Then there's the issue with the actual characters.  Russ is a wimp and Vivian is a bitch.  Russ has endearing qualities because he's a good dad and adores his daughter.  And while Vivian is also besotted with her daughter, she totally comes off as a C-U-Next-Tuesday for pretty much the entire book.  The character of London is adorable and I will say I feel like Sparks really nailed the daddy/ young daughter relationship save one thing: we never see Russ get annoyed and lash out with London and, y'all.  No.  That's not real life.  Here's my biggest issue with the characters (and, if we're being honest, the whole damn book): Russ has a sister. She's great and she's funny and she's probably the best character in the whole book.  And her name is Marge.  MARGE!!!!!  A book that ends in 2016 and you have a not-quite-40-year-old woman named MARGE?!?  WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?  Name her Lisa or Lori or Kelly or Stacy or any other "born in the mid-70's" names.  But MARGE?  It was a distraction but, then, I can fully admit to being biased about names and getting pissed off when they're weird/ out there/ don't make sense/ don't flow with a sibling name.

Another thing with this book is that it's Nicholas Sparks so you know there's going to be tragedy.  And there is.  And it did bring a tear to my eye.  But it was SO OBVIOUS who was going to befall on tragedy.  Super obvious, too obvious.

I also need to point out that the ending was way rushed and . . . not realistic.  Sparks spends page upon page upon PAGE lashing out the deterioration of Russ and Vivian's relationship but a nasty custody battle is summed up nicely in an epilogue.   Ummm . . .

(Very interesting, too, considering Sparks himself is divorced.  Maybe his was all tidied up nicely in an epilogue and he doesn't find himself routinely wanting to stick pins in a voodoo doll . . . )

So to summarize.

This book is far, far, FAR from being a Nicholas Sparks classic.  It was easy enough to read and I did want to finish.  But it was predictable and the whole story just fell flat.  If they make this one into a movie then Hollywood is just desperate.  #GiveMeNoah

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