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Literary Glance: Every Breath by Nicholas Sparks

November 9, 2018

I’ve been lucky.  In all my life, I’ve never had to sit through a movie based on a Nicholas Sparks book.  My wife has never even read a Nicholas Sparks book.  A husband can’t get much luckier than that.

As a book blogger, though, sometimes I have to try novels that I wouldn’t normally read.  And so I tried reading Every Breath by Nicholas Sparks.  I wasn’t looking forward to it.  I know it’s not good to be biased when reading a book, but at least I’m upfront about my feelings.

Every Breath, what a title, I thought.  If you like cheesiness, then Every Breath is a great title for a book.  It reminds me of that song by The Police in the 1980’s, “Every Breath You take.” A bunch of girls I knew in high school at the time thought the song was romantic.  When I told them it sounded like a creepy guy peeping tom control freak, the girls told me to shut up.  To be fair, I was pretty obnoxious in the way I said it.

But I was right.  And normal guys like me get annoyed when we see other guys do really insincere cheesy stuff for women and then women fall for it.  That’s what Nicholas Sparks books remind me of, the insincere cheesy guy who can get women to pay for everything.  In this case, he writes cheesy books that women will pay for.  At least he’s doing something to earn the money.  Most insincere cheesy guys don’t actually work.  I respect a guy who works.  Unless you think writing isn’t really work.

Every Breath even starts off cheesy.  The introduction is titled “Kindred Spirits.”  I’m not kidding.  The term kindred Spirits is almost as cheesy as soul mate which has always made me cringe.  I’m not explaining what that “Kindred Spirit” introduction is about (every other book review will do that), but it’s cheesy.  And it’s a technique that I’ve seen too many authors use lately.  I’d rather an author just get to the story than set up a cheesy beginning, especially when the beginning is titled “Kindred Spirit.”

Speaking of cheesy, here’s the first sentence in “Kindred Spirit”:

There are stories that rise from mysterious, unknown places, and others that are discovered, a gift from someone else.

I was taught never to start a sentence with the words there or here, that any sentence that began with here or there would automatically be passive or weak.  Nicholas Sparks didn’t just start a sentence with “There are…”; he started the entire book with it.  This doesn’t mean the whole book is going to be passive or weak, but it’s not a good sign.

Maybe I’m being nit-picky.  If so, complain to my former English teachers.  As a student, I was not allowed to get away with beginning a sentence with “There are…”   I made no money from my high school essays.  Nicholas Sparks makes a ton of money from his books and should be held to a higher standard than some high school kid who’s just trying to get through a school day with decent grades.

I mean, I have flaws in my writing, but I don’t think my flaw is cheesiness.

Anyway, a little further in the opening:

I parked my truck near the pier and hiked down the beach, heading for Bird Island, an uninhabited coastal preserve.  Locals had told me there was something I should see; perhaps, they’d even suggested, the site would end up in one of my novels.

That was the giveaway that this story probably isn’t true.  Novelists usually ignore suggestions from non-writers.  Or they take the idea without giving credit.

Not long after the flag came into view, I kept my eyes peeled.  I was to look for a mailbox called Kindred Spirit.  The mailbox- planted on a pole of aging driftwood near a saw grass-speckled dune- has been around since 1983 and belongs to no one and everyone.

Ugh.  “…no one and everyone.”  I hate it when an author can’t make up his/her mind.

I’d better stop there so that I don’t belabor the point.  Even the names are cheesy. At least one name is cheesy.  The first character who’s introduced is named Tru Walls.  In real life, Tru Walls might be a cool name.  In fiction, it sounds like an author is trying too hard.  There is a lot of potential meaning and symbolism in a name like Tru Wall, but it lacks subtlety.  And it’s kind of… cheesy.

Maybe I’m overusing the word cheesy, but cheesy is perfect for what I’ve read so far.  Every Breath doesn’t seem to be a horrible book.  I could read it almost effortlessly if I had to, except for the cheese.  Sometimes I have a tough time with cheese.

*****

What do you think?  Is this typical for a Nicholas Sparks book.  Am I oversensitive to cheesy writing?  Is this great writing and I’m too cynical?

15 Comments
  1. When The Notebook was released I bought it at a bookstore. I took it home, read a few pages, and promptly returned it for a refund because it was so sappy. I’ve been anti-Nicholas-Sparks ever since.

  2. I go into every romance expecting a lot of ‘cheesy’ from the outset – they’re mostly predictable, wish fulfilment, and chock full of grandiose moments declaring love. Mix in forbidden love and miscommunication with a heavy dose of angst… well you get the picture. I hate to generalise, but the genre on the whole is pretty spoony. I only read romance for a bit of light escapism that has a happy ending. You do get the odd one that really drags you through the coals and leaves you hungover every now and then.
    Pretty much all of Nicholas Sparks novels are similar in tone to Every Breath. For some reason I get much more enjoyment reading them with a sarcastic and ironic frame of mind – it can be hilarious.

    • “For some reason I get much more enjoyment reading them with a sarcastic and ironic frame of mind – it can be hilarious.”-

      That’s a great approach! It can even work for a lot of things that aren’t Nicholas Sparks books.

  3. You need to write the continuation of Awkward Dating moment already, mate. I’m dying to know what happened.

  4. Evidently you need some wine to go with the cheese. lol The only kindred spirit that doesn’t sound cheesy to me is when Anne of Green Gables finds her Kindred spirits. 😀

  5. I haven’t read the book and, after reading your review and those small snippets you’ve included I have no intention of doing so ;O)

  6. At least you don’t live in the same small town as he did. Not all of us can say we’re as lucky.

    • Okay, I really want to know more about what you’re talking about.

      I don’t mean that in a gossipy way. I mean that in a curious way.

      • I live in New Bern, where Sparks used to live for many years and wrote many of his books. He is not a pleasant human being.

  7. I saw Nicholas Sparks speak at a bookstore once. The audience was full of adoring women. I mean that quite literally, they were spellbound. He chose to stand on top of the customer service desk so they could see him better. I distinctly remember him saying that what he wrote was not romance but Greek tragedy. That dude is something else.

    • It’s okay if an author compares his cheesy romance novels to Greek tragedy. It’s also okay if an author stands up on a customer service desk so that all the customers can see/hear him.

      But doing both at the same time, THAT’S going too far. He needs to tone it down a little bit.

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