Book Review: The Notebook By Nicholas Sparks

The Notebook which was published in 1996 by American novelist Nicholas Sparks was his first book which went on to become such a huge hit that it instantly shot Sparks to fame, ensuring that every other book he writes would be a better love story, if not as good. A movie was made based on the book in 2004 starring Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams. Bollywood adapted it too, by making Zindagi Tere Naam with Mithun Chakraborty.

I’d honestly heard so much about this book from all my friends and countless Instagram pages as to how it will definitely make me cry and fall in love all over again. Being a hopeless romantic, I was undoubtedly very interested. So when I was gifted this book, I immediately started reading it, hoping to finish it in one sitting.

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The Notebook starts with an old man reading a notebook to ‘her’. The story is about a young guy Noah, who has returned from war and is dealing with the loss of a parent and reminiscing about the true love he had felt at 16, a love which remained incomplete. Circumstances bring the girl he loved, Allie and him together once more but at this point of time, she is already engaged to someone else.

The premise and plot of the story seemed promising. But the problem with writing a love story is that there is nothing left to say which hasn’t already been said and the story may end up in a cliché if not written well. Since there is seldom anything new to write, one can recycle the old plot and give it a fresh twist with their writing style. The Notebook didn’t falter on the plot, but it unwittingly failed at the writing style. The whole ‘loss of love, meeting again after many years and falling in love again’ is the kind of story people love to read. Along with it, Sparks also introduced the Alzheimer’s disease making it a perfect story of heartbreak, love, and tragedy all combined together to make you laugh and cry at the right places.

However, the way he writes really takes away from the story. From a tale as epic as this, you expect marvelous dialogues that will tear at your heart and stay with you as well as instances where you are awed at how writers create magic. Unfortunately, that’s where the book falls a step short. The writing style is extremely simple and plain. The dialogues between the main characters don’t gnaw at you and there is an overall absence of the passion and intense romance a story like this required. The Notebook doesn’t pull you in the way it should.

There are also plot holes wherein Allie’s mother doesn’t support their relationship when they’re 16 but when they’re adults, she’s the one pushing them back together. There is no backstory about any of the leads and the characters aren’t strong or well-written enough. The story focuses too much on only Noah and Allie and at places, you wish there was something better with it, like an evil villain or a side character. The characters, simply put, are uninteresting. The story also sort of romanticizes cheating when Allie is already engaged, to a man who is good to her and respects her, but still, spends a romantic weekend with another man and doesn’t feel as guilty as she should.

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The movie, I believe is better than the book, because it actually shows their love when they were young and then when they’re adults. The book doesn’t talk much about their teenage love, which I feel could’ve added more spark. You’ll love this one if you’re an absolutely hopeless romantic who doesn’t care for sense when it comes to love. The rest of you, you might want to look for something slightly more stronger in terms of writing style and characterization. Or if you still want to check out ‘The Notebook’ and the hype behind it, just watch the movie. The book is overrated as most of our audiences will go for anything which showcases old, sweet love.

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