The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks

dscn1591Title: The Last Song
Author: Nicholas Sparks
Pages: 390
Year: 2009
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Rating: 2/5

Goodreads Synopsis: Seventeen year-old Veronica “Ronnie” Miller’s life was turned upside-down when her parents divorced and her father moved from New York City to Wilmington, North Carolina. Three years later, she remains angry and alienated from her parents, especially her father… until her mother decides it would be in everyone’s best interest if she spent the summer in Wilmington with him.

Ronnie’s father, a former concert pianist and teacher, is living a quiet life in the beach town, immersed in creating a work of art that will become the centerpiece of a local church. The tale that unfolds is an unforgettable story about love in its myriad forms – first love, the love between parents and children – that demonstrates, as only a Nicholas Sparks novel can, the many ways that deeply felt relationships can break our hearts… and heal them.

This was my first Nicholas Sparks book. Initial thoughts: It was okay, it didn’t change my life but I didn’t hate it either. I definitely got the impression that once I’ve read one Nicholas Sparks book, I’ve read them all. Which shouldn’t have been a surprise to me, since it’s exactly what I’ve heard about his books.

I thought the characters were very bland. Ronnie and Will were like every other teen in every other teen movie. Popular, clean-cut, rich guy falls for the misunderstood rebel who marches to the beat of her own drum. YAWN. Ronnie was the least interesting lead character I have ever read, and I don’t think I’ve ever hated a character more. Everything about her, from her exaggerated teen angst to her “redeeming” sea turtle obsession, annoyed me. She walked around with such a chip on her shoulder, all because she thought that her father had left her mother for another woman and abandoned her. Somehow, it’s a big revelation that this, in fact, did not happen and it was actually the other way around. However, it isn’t even mentioned until the end of the book. Ronnie realizes that she has been directing her angst at the wrong person, and the reader is bored.

Marcus was a weak villain. He succeeded in being kind of creepy, but he was nowhere near the “sociopath” label he was given. He was less of an actual threat than an annoying fly that just wouldn’t go away. Even his POV chapters were underwhelming, and yet they succeeded to annoy me. Even just reading about Ronnie’s “tight little body” (Ew.) made me reach for the pepper spray.

As appropriate for all Nicholas Sparks books/movies, I did cry at the end watching Steve die. Watching Steve die and Ronnie stepping up to take care of him as he slowly wasted away was so heartbreaking. It made me think about my own parents.  They won’t always be around, and one day I may go through the same thing. (Okay, thinking happy thoughts.)  I had so many regrets for Ronnie in this respect. She treated Steve so harshly for years, and just as she is getting to know him again, he is taken away from her. (Cue the waterworks.) This ending was redeeming enough for me to give the book two stars.

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