Thursday, August 29, 2013

Thursday Review: A Bend in the Road

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The gist of this review:  Nicolas Sparks sucks.  As if you didn't already know that.  And if you like Nick Sparks then I will cock my virtual shotgun and shout, "Get the hell off my lawn!"

A Bend in the Road by Nicholas Sparks
August 18, 2003
(1/5 stars)

If someone had given me a copy of this book with a blank cover, so I had no idea about the author or title, I swear I would think this book was written by a college student. It isn't that the writing is BAD, it's that the writing is bland. Weak expressions are used everywhere. For example, "he could feel his heart pounding" which can be simplified and made more direct by saying, "his heart pounded" or "he felt his heart pounding". Sparks also does one of the things I hate the most, which is to use heavy-handed foreshadowing like ending a chapter, "But little did they know their lives would soon change forever." That doesn't add a single thing to the narrative, it's garbage. All the "could feel", "could see", and foreshadowing are signs of weak, novice writing.

Sparks is in serious need of a real editor, and not just for the technical writing. The storytelling is weak as well. The reader is told constantly how hard it was for Miles to recover, how he focused on solving the case, how he ignored his kid, but readers never get to SEE that, except for one brief flashback. It's important for readers to SEE that so we can understand why he reacts the why he does later in the story. As for the italicized voice, it's only function is to show how remorseful the killer is, but does that matter? The outcome of the book would be the same with or without the italicized voice, so I don't think it adds anything useful and it gives away who killed Miles's wife for those with enough common sense to figure it out, which kills what little suspense there is in this book.

The characters have little depth to them, with no real flaws, except that Miles has a hard time coping with his wife's death, which is understandable since they were so much in love. They never seemed like real people, but more like characters in a bad movie of the week. Too often the characters speak in speeches instead of short, crisp sentences.

Poor writing, dull story, boring characters, clunky dialogue...there's nothing to recommend with this book. To me, the worst John Irving or Richard Russo novel is still ten times better than this insignificant, poorly-written tripe. To young writers, "A Bend in the Road" is a case study in what NOT to do.

7 comments:

  1. Thank you! Can you now get my wife off my back about seeing all the film adaptations.

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  2. Wow! Tell us what you really think about this author. But I respect your opinion and won;t be adding this author's books to my nightstand.

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  3. He's not a writer anymore, he's just a factory of novel output. There's nothing new in his books. I could've told you that long ago :)

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  4. I attempted to read "The Notebook" years ago and I only made it to about chapter four before I slammed it shut and threw it in the pile for Goodwill. Sparks is not a great writer and his story lines are pathetically predictable. I'm sorry you can't retrieve the hours of your life that were wasted reading that book.

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  5. Don't know anything about this guy, but it's further proof to me people tend to put story above prose when determining if a book is good or not.

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  6. Poor writing, dull story, boring characters and clunky dialogue. Sounds like the perfect storm of bad books Pat.

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