The movie is better. Yes, I said it, and I don’t feel bad at all. I almost regret having read the book, because it just doesn’t touch on the magic and beauty of the movie.
The world building is richer, and the characters have better and more fascinating personalities in the movie. The story structure is also better. The book version is slow and has way too much telling and back story, and these long monologues about love that go on an on, ad nauseam. The side characters are flat and completely one dimensional, and they are only discussed as part of the backstory, in an offhand sort of way. They don’t really contribute to the actual storyline or plot. I was so indifferent to all of them that it almost broke my heart.
This is flat and disappointing compared to the movie, and I know that’s going to be a controversial opinion. As an avid reader, I tend to almost always side with the book, but there are some rare exceptions:
The Handmaid’s Tale (TV Show)
And now The Notebook
I’m not saying I hated reading those books. They just didn’t compare to the depth and vibrancy of the movies and TV shows. So it looks like I definitely can’t buy one of those, “The book is always better” t-shirts now, because this year has taught me that it just isn’t so, at least, not always.
I think in the future, I’ll stick with my plan of watching Nicholas Sparks books, instead of reading them, since his strength seems to be more in his concepts than his actual writing and storytelling. Sure, this one has a few pretty sentences, but I honestly would have preferred a less convoluted story structure and some actual depth in the characters and their relationships that went beyond sickeningly sweet clichés. And the ending. Ugh. *insert eye roll*
I guess I just don’t understand this, since everyone else seems to adore this book. Perhaps it is because this is now 14 years old, and there have been so many better stories published since then. If you want a contemporary love story with some challenges and hardship, I instead recommend any of these (several of which also have movies that are good but not better than the book*):
Aristotle and Date Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
Me Before You by JoJo Moyes*
November 9 by Colleen Hoover
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green*
I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios
The Truth About Forever and/or Just Listen by Sarah Dessen
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
The Problem With Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Literally any book by Katie McGarry
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
Okay, I could probably go on forever, but I’ll stop here. My advice, if you’ve already seen the movie, is that you should definitely skip this book and pick up one of the above instead.