The Notebook - Nicholas Sparks Well, that's one author I can cross off my "to-read" list.

Noah and Allie fell in love one summer when he was 17 and she 15. She leaves, and fourteen years pass before Allie, now engaged, returns to Noah. Are they still in love? Will she marry her over-working fiance, with whom she shares a passionless relationship and who keeps her from pursuing her passion of art? Or will she choose Noah, the boy she spent a grand total of one summer with and lost her virginity to (and hasn't had sex with another man in the entire 14 years they've been apart)?

I see people enjoying this for primarily two reason:

1. You adore sappy romances where you can predict the plot from the beginning and have to keep a box of tissues nearby for the monsoon of tears that will be spilled. BONUS: You love the "Greatest Love of All Ages" ending with the couple in "present day" as 80 year-olds gasping on their death beds, clinging to each other's hands.

2. You love to participate in Bad Book Buddy Reads with an amazing compatriot. You love to groan as the plot points are written in big crayon pages before they appear, roll your eyes at the overwrought descriptions of love, and wince at Trio of Terrible Writing, Cardboard Characters, and Zero Subtlety.

Guess which one I was?

This book was bad; bad as in "so good it's bad" category. Meaning, perfect for Bad Book Buddy Reads. And I was not disappointed - this book was a gold mine of snarkable material.

The characters are so flat, they are almost invisible. Noah is the Rugged Poet (who writes no poetry), giving him the duo combination of being Deep/Intellectual but also a man who works with his hands (he WORKS for a living gorrammit!). Allie is a Passionate Free-Spirit, who loves to paint and is therefore Deep and Artsy. The rest of the characters (what few of them even exist) are even worse (if that is possible); Lon is the Foil, Anne, Allie's mom, is the Voice of Inspiration, Gus is the Person of Color (no seriously, there is no reason he appears in this book). I get that this book is a mere 213 pages long in my edition, but come on! Fill the world with some color, why don't ya?

I was surprised at the progression of what passes for "story". I saw the movie, so I remember there was quite a bit of build-up between teenaged Allie and Noah along with the older people. The book totally skips over ANY sort of relationship building between the teenaged protagonists and instead starts the story with a HUGE backstory dump with Noah at 31 and Allie at 29! The problem is, we have spent NO TIME developing their romantic feelings for each other; instead, Allie is back to see Noah after 14 years!

By the way, if Noah and Allie were REALLY so deeply in love, why did it take them FOURTEEN YEARS to reunite? Why were they THAT surprised when Anne withheld Noah's letters (come on, Allie's parents weren't shy in letting Noah know they didn't like him!)? Noah tries ONCE in the 14 years to see Allie; that's it! If I'm going to buy this is the Greatest Love Story of All Time (which I don't), I need to see them pursuing it.

As for the "Greatest Love Story of All Time" - laughable. As I said, there is no chemistry between the two. Sparks relies on TELLING us (frequently!) how his characters burn for each other. That is NOT chemistry; that is a summary.

Last thing: I could not believe how awful the writing was. It was so boring! So simple! So fraught with telling and not showing. And I even spotted some grammar errors (tenses changing in mid-sentence and some unclear pronoun usage).

There isn't very many times I say this, but the movie was lightyears better than the book (and I wasn't even that big of a fan of the movie!). Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling did a great job at personifying the characters and, most importantly, conveying the Greatest Love of All Time. I guess you can give Sparks credit for being able to write a concept that would make a good movie, but when I read a book, I have certain criteria: namely characters, plot, writing. I also hate to say this, but some of the books I've really ranted against (*cough*Danse Macabre by LKH*cough*) look much better against the poor quality of this book.

If you are curious about this book, watch the movie. If you are a big sucker for sappy romances or love to snark with buddies, pick this book up!