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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Sparks delivers great casual read in ‘Save Haven’

Published: February 28, 2013
Section: Arts, Etc.

As the recent theatrical version of “Safe Haven” hits the big screen, the Nicholas Sparks novel has been heavily advertised and mentioned in conversations. During break, while looking for a book to read, I saw “Safe Haven” on the Kindle store, listed under the most popular recent books. Always a big fan of Nicholas Sparks, I knew it would be a fun read and easy to digest while relaxing over break.

The book, as expected, was as enjoyable as could be. The main characters, Katie and Alex were stereotypical Nicholas Sparks characters. They were easy to fall in love with and root for when they were kicked down. Alex, the main male character is your typical everyday man. But the twist on his character is that he’s a widower.

Most of Sparks’ male characters have gone through a tragedy, but this one has a different storyline that makes Alex a character for which you root. The fact that he is a single father and runs the family business, is a new storyline for Sparks. His personality is not unfamiliar, however, as Nicholas Sparks relies on stereotypical male protagonists. Sparks maintains his style with this character even though he has gone slightly outside his lines.

Katie, the female protagonist in “Safe Haven” is an even more interesting character. She has a strong and upsetting backstory, but given the way this novel is structured, we see her as a strong woman at first glance. It is not until almost the middle of the novel that we find out she is running from something. The drawn-out ambiguities about what or who she is running from made me not only want to read on, but also sympathize with her.

As with every Nicholas Sparks novel, the romance is understated and it is a struggle for the main characters to be together. As I read the novel, I began to feel for them and wanted their relationship to work out. There was resistance from Katie, again another typical feature of Spark’s books. The star-crossed lovers theme is expected from Nicholas Sparks, and that definitely has a prominence in this novel.

As with other Sparks novels, there is a third character that stands in the way of the characters. This novel takes that character to the extreme. Kevin, Katie’s dark past, only emerges halfway through the book. In “Safe Haven” Sparks changes perspectives in different chapters. The constant change in perspective is confusing at first, because it is not expected.

He takes Kevin’s character as the victim to an extreme I have yet to see in the different novels I have read. Kevin has hateful thoughts that he eventually acts upon, putting the main characters in danger. As a big threat, he adds a level of excitement to the close of the novel. Readers are aware of his intentions, so Sparks creates a bit of dramatic irony. As Kevin gets closer to reaching his ultimate goal, audiences start to fear for the characters we have come to love, who remain unaware.

The minor roles played by Alex’s two young children is not unfamiliar, but on the scale of occurrences, children played a much larger role in Spark’s other recent hit, “The Lucky One.” The added characters give an added layer to Alex and Katie’s relationship. The fact that there are children involved makes readers’ desire for their relationship to work all the greater.
This novel is an epitome of Nicholas Sparks, but remains a purely enjoyable read for the beach or a casual weekend.