Monday, February 13, 2012

Review: Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks

Title: Safe Haven
Author: Nicholas Sparks
Publisher: Sphere
Release date: September 2nd 2010
Pages: 352
Genre: Romance
Source: Bought
FInd out more: Goodreads | Amazon

Goodreads description:
When a mysterious young woman named Katie appears in the small North Carolina town of Southport, her sudden arrival raises questions about her past. Beautiful yet self-effacing, Katie seems determined to avoid forming personal ties until a series of events draws her into two reluctant relationships: one with Alex, a widowed store owner with a kind heart and two young children; and another with her plainspoken single neighbor, Jo. Despite her reservations, Katie slowly begins to let down her guard, putting down roots in the close-knit community and becoming increasingly attached to Alex and his family. But even as Katie begins to fall in love, she struggles with the dark secret that still haunts and terrifies her . . . a past that set her on a fearful, shattering journey across the country, to the sheltered oasis of Southport. With Jo's empathic and stubborn support, Katie eventually realizes that she must choose between a life of transient safety and one of riskier rewards . . . and that in the darkest hour, love is the only true safe haven.

First sentence:
As Katie wound her way among the tables, a breeze from the Atlantic rippled through her hair.

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I love Nicholas Sparks. Yes, the stories are cheesy and unrealistic, but... well, there is no real but, I just love them - the romance, the heartbreak, everything. Every once in a while, I need to read a cheesy love story, and Nicholas Sparks' books are perfect for that. And Safe Haven is no exception.

The characters in Safe Haven are great. Characters in adult books are generally harder for me to relate to than YA characters, just because YA is a lot closer to my own life. But even though Katie and Alex are twice as old as me, I had no trouble connecting to them. Alex is such a good guy, and I felt his grief. The way he takes care of his kids is so sweet, and the family's loss made me cry several times. Katie's a great character, too - I don't want to say too much about her in order not to spoil her secret, but she's been through a lot. Her fears are understandable, and you can't help but feel for her.

I don't know what to say about the relationship between Katie and Alex. Technically, it's too insta-love-y (there should be an actual word for that, by the way) - the attraction in the beginning is too obvious and unrealistic, and they develop too extreme emotions too quickly. But really, I didn't care - they're so cute together! It's like that in almost all of Nicholas Sparks' novels - the MCs develop unrealistically deep emotions for one another in too short a time - but I never seem to mind. The relationships are cheesy, but really, that's just the way his books are. You always know you're in for a good but cheesy romance when you open a Nicholas Sparks book. 

One thing I always love about Nicholas Sparks' books is the small-town life. The books almost always take place in some small town on the coast of North Carolina, and the atmospheres are always so peaceful. His books always make me want to move to a small town near the beach.

The suspense in Safe Haven is really well-done. I don't want to say too much about Katie's "secret that still haunts and terrifies her" in order not to spoil it for anyone, but it really is terrifying at times. The suspense and danger of that storyline keep you flipping the pages, and the romance and suspense blend together really well. Still, I would have liked a stronger message concerning Katie's issue - I think, because of Alex's background, he could have easily given the reader some more information on how to handle something like that.

Safe Haven is a classic Nicholas Sparks book - a good but clichéd love story with some suspense thrown in there. No, they're not the most intellectually challenging books out there, but what girl doesn't want to read a cheesy love story every once in a while? Safe Haven isn't my favorite Nicholas Sparks book, but it's an enjoyable read.


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