Warner, $7.99, ISBN 0-446-61039-9
Contemporary Fiction, 2001 (Reissue)
No, don’t look at me like that. This is not an exercise in spite. I really don’t want to read any more Nicholas Sparks books, which I feel are the most horrifying things on print ever since they invented those Chicken Soup books. This review is as much an open response to Cecilia who took offense enough at my views on Mr Sparks’s literary skills to actually mail me this to me and dare me to read it “with an open mind”.
So I steel my nerves, tell everyone to summon an ambulance should he hear screams or utter silence one hour after I start reading, and open The Rescue. Who knows, with such low, minimally low expectations, maybe I’ll like this book more than I thought I would. How’s that for open minded?
Well, even as I now gargle in saltwater in a vain hope of removing the sickening saccharine aftertaste in my mouth, I can safely say that my mind isn’t opened enough. Sorry. I haven’t been bombarded with this much fake sentimentality and disgusting greeting card overdone sweetness since – hey, Message in a Bottle!
Perfect, perfect, perfect one-dimensional hero Taylor MacAden (who happens to be rich, sensitive, perfect, and absolutely devoid of any personality whatsoever – amazing) saves perfect, martyr, tragic, one-dimensional damsel-in-distress Denise Holden’s “speech-delayed” son’s life. These two cardboard cut-outs then fall in love and indulge in PG-rated premarital sex.
Handicapped son, heroine in poverty – isn’t that romantic! Be still my heart, and let me wear my diapers first. This is gross. The whole relationship between Taylor and Denise is ersatz, plastic, synthetic. There is this condescending smirkiness in the prose, where it seems to be taken for granted that it is a woman’s place in life to be rescued by her man.
From a female author, it is bad enough. From a male author – it is my prejudice but I feel really insulted. Why can’t Mr Sparks take time to create some deep dialogues that have more than two sentences? A sentence with more than seven words? How about some vulnerability that isn’t manufactured? A perfect man saves a perfect but poverty-stricken passive miss – female fantasy at its most bastardized, low-brow plebianistic standards.
Cecilia, you said that Mr Sparks’s writing is a touch above Harlequin romances. But honey, here’s my advice. Get your breathing gear and dive into a romance novel. No, not a Harlequin one – I will be the first to agree with you about the fakeness of Harlequin cowboys and millionaires. Once exposed to what a good author can do with well-developed characters and conflicts that don’t seem contrived, who knows, maybe you’ll see Nicholas Sparks as the manufactured fake leeching on deluded “romance are crap” women who are too scornful to ever read a romance novel (and hence have no idea that fake is crap).
Then again, maybe it’s just one of us who has bad taste in reading (me or you, I’ll leave it to you to decide). Either way, this book is placed on my bookshelf and I avoid it like a plague. I can’t help feeling as if some antichrist amulet is on the shelf, however, radiating pure evil that make me want to flee the house. I do want to watch TV, and dang if I will let a hack like Nicholas Sparks drive me out of the house. I’ll return the book to you ASAP.