Tag: The Choice by Nicholas Sparks

#BestsellerCode100: Reader’s Review of The Choice by Nicholas Sparks

The Choice by Nicholas Sparks is next up on our 100 Bestsellers List reading challenge.  Gabby moves to small town Beaufort, North Carolina, to be nearer her long-time boyfriend and hopefully soon-to-be fiancé.  She just happens to buy the house next door to a good-looking, adventurous, and fun-loving confirmed bachelor, Travis.  A series of mishaps and misunderstandings (typical romance novel set-ups) brings these two together and sparks fly (or we’re expected to believe sparks fly).  Can you tell I wasn’t buying it?

This post contains spoilers.

The Choice* by Nicholas Sparks

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

A Tale of Two Romances

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…

Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens wasn’t referring to our last two romance novels, but that’s how I felt after reading Me Before You and The Choice back to back.  Me Before You gave the reader the best that romance novels can offer and The Choice gave the worst.  Me Before You created memorable and believable characters; The Choice offered two clichéd main characters and a supporting cast that we barely got to know.  The plot of Me Before You presented each of the main characters with life choices to make and allowed them come to realistic decisions; The Choice had a Hollywood-scripted plot and the pro forma happy (unrealistic) ending.  Me Before You gave me renewed hope that romance novels were worth reading; The Choice only reinforced my previous belief that romance novels aren’t worth my time.

The Choice

This novel is split into two parts.  Part One presents Gabby’s dilemma: will she listen to her head and stay with her long-time boyfriend whom she expects to marry or will she listen to her heart and build a life with her neighbor Travis, who has turned her life upside down in a whirlwind romantic weekend.  But as Roberta writes in her Writer’s Review, due to the prologue, we already know which choice she makes, so there’s no suspense and no emotional investment by the reader.

Part Two presents the Real Choice of the novel: will Travis follow his head regarding Gabby’s specific instructions concerning her present medical situation (a long-term coma) or will he follow his heart.  I found Part Two to be even more clichéd and unbelievable than Part One, if that is possible.  Where Gabby was too much in her own head in Part One, dithering back and forth between her choices, in Part Two it is Travis’s turn to bore the reader as we are forced to listen to his feelings of guilt over the accident that caused Gabby’s coma and his anguish about the resultant choice he must make.  Truthfully, by then, I ceased to care.  I won’t even go into just how unbelievable Gabby’s remarkable recovery was from her long-term coma – it was the expected happily-ever-after ending, but totally unrealistic.

The Right Choice

 If you want a feel-good, tear-jerker, realistic romance novel to read this summer and you have two choices on the shelf, Me Before You by JoJo Moyes or The Choice by Nicholas Sparks, do yourself a favor and spend your money on Me Before You.  You won’t be disappointed.

Have you read The Choice by Nicholas Sparks? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Related posts:

  1. Book-beginnings, a discussion of the first line of the novel
  2. Karen’s review from a reader’s perspective
  3. Roberta’s review from a writer’s perspective

You can also join us on social media:

__________________

What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog. Links in the list go to the landing page from this blog where the discussion starts. However, this is an open-ended challenge so feel free to jump in with any of the books at any time.

The next book is number 60.  In the Woods by Tana French (2007) – Discussion begins May 14, 2018
Mystery

#BestsellerCode100: Writer’s Review of The Choice by Nicholas Sparks

Let’s take a look at  The Choice by Nicholas Sparks from a writer’s perspective.

This post contains spoilers.

The Choice* by Nicholas Sparks

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary: Travis Parker is happy being a bachelor. However, when he meets his new neighbor Gabby Holland, his life turns upside down.

The Choice was made into a movie that was released in 2016.

Genre

Like our previous novel for The Bestseller Code challenge, Me Before You, The Choice is a love story/romance. Also like our previous novel, it strays from the typical romance format as the love interest has health problems due to a severe car accident.

Where the two diverge, however, is that in Me Before You, the complications add depth, making it a compelling story. In contrast, in The Choice, the complications are a formulaic attempt to gain sympathy and instead distance the reader.

Why did one work and the other did not?

The Choice by Nicholas Sparks

 

Incorporating Emotions In Fiction

In fiction, readers like to be touched by what they read. They like to experience what the characters are going through, and get swept away by their emotions. Many authors struggle, however, with how to authentically incorporate emotions into their stories.

There are several ways to write about a character’s emotions. One technique is to simply name the emotion, such as “George felt happy.” It is best to avoid this method for several reasons. First of all, it is telling the reader, rather than showing, which leaves the reader flat. Also, people tend not to be all that aware of their emotions, so naming them outright is unrealistic.

People are much more likely to be aware of the physical sensations they experience when emotional.  For example, ” The muscle in her neck that always tightened when she was under stress began to twitch.” The secret with this technique is to use sensations that are universal enough so the reader can recognize them, but that are not overused or cliché. Raising eyebrows, rolling eyes, or a heart hammering in the chest are examples of physical descriptions that are overused.

Experienced authors have even more tools. They may reveal a character’s emotions through their actions, through metaphors, through punctuation (Oh no!), or through the use of the objective-correlative, which involves using objects, descriptions, or situations to convey a particular emotion.  A simplified example of the latter might be, “She pressed her nose into the roses, hugged the chocolates to her chest, and smiled up at the forest of balloons bouncing overhead.” The roses, chocolates, and balloons are all things related to happy events, so the reader can infer the character is happy.

Comparison

So, why does The Choice fall flat?

Nicholas Sparks incorporates plenty of emotions, but he tends to name the emotions.

Molly was sitting near the back door, her tail thumping, and Gabby felt anxious at the thought of the future.

or

He was still sitting at the table, feeling slightly shell-shocked, when he spotted his sister approaching.

 

To be fair, he also uses physical descriptions:

Her heart squeezed again, and this time she tried to hold on to the feeling.

In contrast, in Me Before You:

“I — I’m Lou.” My voice, uncharacteristically tremulous, broke into the silence. I wondered, briefly, whether to hold out a hand, and then, remembering that he wouldn’t be able to take it, gave a feeble wave instead. “Short for Louisa.”

It probably helps that it is in first person, but can’t you sense the intensity of her nervous awkwardness , even though she never says directly she’s feeling nervous?

Discussion

I didn’t enjoy this book for several other reasons, in addition to the flat emotions.

The characters were inconsistent. In the beginning Gabby, who has a job as a physician’s assistant, accuses Travis’s dog Moby of fathering puppies with her dog, Molly. This rang false with me, because even lay people can tell a neutered male dog from an non-neutered one. A medical professional should definitely be able to tell. But I gave her the benefit of the doubt because maybe Moby was far away in the distance at all times (except he wasn’t).

When her dog Molly gives birth and has a medical problem, Gabby definitely should have known right away what it was and I suspect should have been able to give first aid, rather than simply rushing off. Yes, in real life people are inconsistent, but that seemed excessively so.

It was also apparent that Gabby and Travis were going to get married right from the beginning. Novels work best when they create mysteries that keep a reader guessing and wanting to read on to find out the answer. The minimal tension that did arise seemed artificial. Gabby had to make a decision, but because she wasn’t the main character, we could guess what it would be.

Overall, The Choice works too hard to try to tug at the reader’s heartstrings, and leaves them feeling nothing instead.

 

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__________________

What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog. Links in the list go to the landing page from this blog where the discussion starts. However, this is an open-ended challenge so feel free to jump in with any of the books at any time.

The next book is number 60.  In the Woods by Tana French (2007) – Discussion begins May 14, 2018
Mystery

#BestsellerCode100: Number 61. The Choice by Nicholas Sparks

Time to start the discussion of our next novel from The Bestseller Code 100 listThe Choice by Nicholas Sparks.

This post does not contain spoilers.

The Choice* by Nicholas Sparks

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary: Travis Parker is happy being a bachelor. However, when he meets his new neighbor Gabby Holland, his life might just turn upside down.

The Choice was made into a movie that was released in 2016.

 

Have you read The Choice by Nicholas Sparks? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Related posts:

  1. Book-beginnings, a discussion of the first line of the novel
  2. Karen’s review from a reader’s perspective
  3. Roberta’s review from a writer’s perspective

You can also join us on social media:

Do you have suggestions for ways to improve this reading challenge? We’d love to hear them.

Have you written about The Choice by Nicholas Sparks? Feel free to add a link to your review in the comments.
__________________

What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog. Links in the list go to the landing page from this blog where the discussion starts. However, this is an open-ended challenge so feel free to jump in with any of the books at any time.

The next book is number 60.  In the Woods by Tana French (2007) – Discussion begins May 14, 2018
Mystery

#BookBeginnings The Choice by Nicholas Sparks

Today we’re starting the next book in The Bestseller Code 100 challengeThe Choice by Nicholas Sparks for Book Beginnings on Fridays.

Book Beginnings is a fun meme hosted by Rose City Reader blog. To participate, share the first sentence or so of a novel you are reading and your thoughts about it. When you are finished, add your URL to the Book Beginnings page linked above. Hope to see you there!

 

book-beginnings-sparks

The Choice* by Nicholas Sparks

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary:  Travis Parker is happy being a bachelor. However, when he meets his new neighbor Gabby Holland, his life might just turn upside down.

The Choice was made into a movie that was released in 2016.

First Sentence of Prologue:

Stories are as unique as the people who tell them, and the best stories are those in which the ending is a surprise. At least, that’s what Travis Parker recalled his dad telling him when he was a child.

Do you agree that the best stories are those with a surprise ending?

I like a surprise ending that is an interesting twist, but I don’t like a surprise ending where nothing is as I thought it was.

Nicholas Sparks’s first published novel was The Notebook. In it a man reads stories from an old notebook. Does it seem like stories are a theme with Nicholas Sparks?

First Sentences of Chapter One:

“Tell me again why I agreed to help you with this.” Matt, red-faced and grunting, continued to push the spa toward the recently cut square at the far edge of the deck.

It is interesting that the first person introduced in Chapter One is not the main character.

What do you think?

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