I love a good chick flick, and this one did not disappoint me. In fact, Zac Effron exceeded my expectations. I thought the female lead looked a bit old next to Effron (even though she's only a couple of years older in real life, he's just got a youthful look that made her look older than she actually is) but their chemistry was very good and I quickly forgot that I thought she was too old once the movie got going. :) The rest of the cast was good too... I liked Nana and Ben a lot.
I saw this movie having never read a Nicholas Sparks book and having had a mixed reaction to previous movie adaptations of his work. (I really enjoyed "The Notebook" but didn't care for "Dear John" and "The Last Song", among others.) I enjoyed it so much that I went and read the book afterwards. I think it was much better for me to watch the movie FIRST and then read the book SECOND because I loved them both this way. If I'd read the book first, I would have been annoyed at some of the things they changed in the movie... I don't think it would have ruined the movie but I think I wouldn't have loved it quite as much, and I would have had a harder time with some of the casting choices.
I would buy this movie to add to my romantic chick flick collection.