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on July 11, 2010
First off, I need to make some declarations before I get into the meat of my 'review'.

1) I don't write these reviews for Amazon, or its readers. I write them for *me*. I write them to better understand the novel I've just read, to better understand what the author accomplished (while guessing at what their intent had been...sometimes not the same thing at all), to better understand what works and what doesn't, towards the eventual goal of gaining a better grasp on what great writing is, what great storytelling is, what great entertainment novels featuring these elements can be. It is a self-serving process that I offer up for other Amazon readers to take as they will.

2) I envy and admire Mr. Sparks. He's managed to carve out a niche in the marketplace, writing (presumably) what he wants to write, and has a solid fan-base encouraging him to continue doing so. What more could a modern author hope for in this day and age? (Never mind that he's had the added compliment of having several of his novels adapted for the screen.)

3) I bawled through all the 'romance' portions of this novel. It is, at the very heart of it, a testimony to not getting what you crave, when your entire being (to the extent that you're capable at the time of giving your 'entire' anything) is lost in loving someone...or at the very least, desiring them. I know of what the lead character John speaks; I've carried the burden of a 'lost love' for more than seven years now. (Even though mine was a world-class case of unrequited love.) Leading me to Point #4...

4) I'm happy for the readers for whom this book resonated. Resonance is a personal thing. And perhaps the most contentious thing I can say is that resonance does not automatically infer -or confer- quality of writing. It only means that it resonated for you...and for other people who share this experience...and that the novel provided an especially positive experience for you. It doesn't mean it's a 'great novel', no matter how many copies it sells.

What It Isn't:

-It's not great writing.

-It's not great storytelling.

-It's not a great reading experience. (Unless you are a lover of this genre.)

What It Is:

-'Dear John' is 'genre-porn'. Pornography is generally acknowledged as material with no other inherent value -or purpose- than to stimulate a prurient reaction. 'Dear John' is a romance, further a heartbreaking romance, and so its purpose is to elicit the reactions that someone reading this genre wants to experience. That's all. It doesn't aim to elevate the reader's consciousness, it doesn't aim to illuminate Life (although there are a few nice examples in 'Dear John' when it does: adult Asberger's, the realities of armed forces personnel in Iraq not having been trained to be judge or police officers and the concomitant stress involved at still attempting to execute these duties, a general view of coin collecting), and it's not aiming to be 'great literature'. It unabashadly takes a certain tack...and Mr. Sparks does what he can to maintain it.

-It is facile but well-intentioned. On occasion it's ham-fisted...but nevertheless with an undeniable amount of acumen and ability, thanks to the author's experience and resultant skill. Unfortunately, in more than a handful of instances, it gets so mired in...well, in what can only be referred to as 'cringe-inducing' dialogue...that it threatens true mediocrity.

-It is a novel that at times has an inconsistent narrator's voice. 'Plaintive', for example, isn't a word that John -as he's revealed to us- would have used. If it had been, the entire tenor of the novel would have been shifted about seven degrees to the north/northeast. The same goes for the use of 'portending'. Ugh.

-On that note, when you have an emotionally-unevolved character acting as the narrator- Well, is that really what you want to have, given the limitations...unless you're intending on this narrator's limitations to become a huge part of the story? Because in 'Dear John', they're not. They inform the story, they affect the story, but they do not so much as to warrant taking this approach.

-It is a pleasing serving of what this genre aims to feed its patrons with, the sort of stuff that for those readers who want this kind of confection, hits the spot.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon February 8, 2009
You can always tell you're reading a great book when you find yourself skipping ahead into the final chapters to see how things will be resolved, even though you've vowed you wouldn't. Love doesn't always have a happy ending (especially when it comes to a Nicholas Sparks novel) and this is a wonderful, albeit quick, tear-jerking romance.

Our hero John grew up with a silent, meticulously organized father that he didn't understand. In his teens he began to rebel, hanging out, playing pool and drinking. This continues for a number of years with John working menial jobs, getting several tattoos and going nowhere fast. Eventually John decides its time to grow up and he joins the army. In fact it's during 2 weeks leave that he first meets Savannah, diving into the ocean to rescue her sinking purse. Savannah is your stereotypical good-girl; raised in a stable family she's kind, pretty and hopes to save the world. It's also love at first sight for our couple despite the warnings from her tattoo phobic college friends. Together the pair plans a future together, counting down the days until John's discharge as Savannah helps him understand his father and he in turn feels contentment for the first time in his life.

On Sept 11 everything changes as John in a moment of patriotic loyalty chooses to re-up in the army, putting a hold on their marriage plans while he enters the war in Iraq. The two try to maintain a long distance relationship but the war changes John and the years apart put a strain on their deep love. When John's father grows ill he returns home but will he be too late to save both his relationship with his father and the love of his life?

I fell in love with John's character and surprisingly his father too. Each is well written and they felt like real people. I also enjoyed reading about John's military career and the reasons that take men into a war. Savannah as the heroine was a little too perfect for me but their heartbreaking love story and the regret that they both share will keep you up into the wee hours, and leave you wondering about John long after you've finished reading its bittersweet ending.

Another great read from Nicholas Sparks that I would definitely recommend. Oh, and John if you're out there, I'm single...
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This is a light and enjoyable novel, one that will give you a few hours escaping reality and plunging into a sappy and romantic fantasy.

This is about army sergeant John Tyree narrating his love for Savannah Curtis, the girl of his dreams, and their relationship. It is the typical boy meet girl love story in the post 9/11 world. Boy goes to war and girl waits for him to finish his tour of duty. Here the specific war is not important, the author doesn't delve into the effects it had on his characters. When John re-enlists it weighs heavily on their relationship. Will their love survive.....

This novel is a quick read; the characters are realistic enough and likable, the plot is very predictable and not complex. The story hovers around the ideals of love and how fragile it can be. Added are some unrealistic twists leading to appropriate sadness and some heart wrenching moments, bringing tears to your eyes. If you are a fan of soap opera, this book is for you.
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It's been a while since I've read a book by Nicholas Sparks. My last one was Message in a Bottle. Sparks has found a winning formula as he has eight New York Times bestsellers to his credit.

My experience has been that they all tug at your heartstrings and Dear John is no exception.

John Tyree is home on leave from the army when he meets Savannah Curtis. Their time together is short lived, but they quickly fall in love. John must return to his squad, but Savannah vows she will will wait for him. His time is almost up when 9/11 strikes and John re enlists. Can their love survive further time apart?

I listened to this in audio format. Holter Graham was the reader. I'm not sure if he naturally speaks with a Southern accent, but once in awhile I would find it slipping. He played John with a slow southern drawl that at times made him seem simple. Savannah's voice was easily identifiable, with a slightly different southern accent and a quicker manner of speaking.

I think the story is an excellent one, especially in today's times, when this scenario is being played out in many lives. Sparks finishes his tale with a different twist, again designed to make you reach for a tissue.

Now this is purely personal and I'm sure there will lots of dissenting opinions, but... I just didn't like Savannah. I found her overbearing, manipulative, selfish and too much of a know it all. I often wonder if in listening to an audio book, you form a different picture of a character than you might have in reading the book. I then watched the movie trailer and with the characters played by Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried , think I may change my mind again.

So, yes if you're looking for a heart string tugging read, this is definitely one for you. I'm more of an action girl myself, so found some of it a bit repetitive and slow going but I did enjoy the story.
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on July 19, 2012
I decided to be tongue and cheek with my review title; the book didn't exactly thrill me. The storyline itself is relevant for the contemporary romance genre. Intead of WWI or WWII dividing people, the story provides a contemporary lense on what Iraq does to soldiers and the relationships that they try to build and can't have fully. Although it's about a romance trying to survive on letter writing, there are hardly any letters in the book; that was disappointing. I don't completing understand (or maybe accept) how Sparks is so popular, except that it's basic reading material and lots of people like love stories.

The biggest problem with the book, however, is voice (with other smaller problems like describing the boring details of heating food in a microwave). The book is written with John as narrator (first person). John describes his experiences using words that don't match his rugged demeanour and therefore he doesn't seem real, just the creation of a writer describing someone else. Also, his voice wasn't unique; it sounded too similar to Wilson in "The Wedding". I think the book would have been better if he wrote it the third person and incorporated a lot more of the letter writing between John and Savannah. That way, the romance that developed would have been more tangible and believable by showing it instead of telling it through John's disjointed voice. The film does a better job at portraying the character of John and demonstrating the chemistry between the two young lovers.

In terms of writing style, again, it's basic. She may not sell as many books as Sparks, but I like Joshilyn Jackson's writing better because it has more depth when it comes to character development.
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on August 18, 2008
No one writes a love story like Nicholas Sparks and this book is definitely one of his best. The book is divided into three parts. In part one, John explains his difficult childhood having been raised solely by his father with little knowledge of his mother. His father is a kind, loving man in his own way but is unable to show emotion or carry on a conversation on any subject except the coins he collects. John survives the school years, often never fitting in, and joins the army. On leave he meets Savannah, a young college student. Needless to say, a strong and unexpected friendship develops which eventually leads to romance.

In part two, John returns to Germany where he is stationed. Savannah returns to college to finish her education and establish a career. During the years that follow, John returns each year on leave with promises of a life together. However, various world events prevent John from returning to the States permanently which puts a strain on his plans to marry Savannah. As both John and Savannah discover, it is difficult to keep the flame burning in a long distance relationship. For all they share in common, they discover great differences in each other as well. Finally, John receives a heartrendering "Dear John" letter telling him Savannah is in love with someone else, her best friend since childhood.

Part three, continues the tale of John and Savannah's separate lives. There is a twist to the end of this story that is bittersweet, leaving the reader reaching for the nearest box of tissues. This is no "happily ever after" story, but one filled with joy, heartbreak, kindness, compassion and appreciation for the beautiful memories life bestows upon. "Dear John" is a story that stays with you long after the pages have been read. Cherish the dreams, hold on to the memories, for nothing lasts forever.
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on March 2, 2010
I'll admit I'm not a big reader of romance novels, but after seeing the preview for this movie I thought I'd give the book a shot. Let's just say I hope the movie is better written than the book was. Granted, Nicholas Sparks seems to have moved passed happy endings to give the reader a little more than the classic story, but the dialogue and the descriptive language left a lot to be desired. It's like he tried really hard to set the scene with ample descriptions of the surroundings and characters but just couldn't find the rights words to do so, or at least couldn't do it very well. But, I guess that's why Dear John is a $5 paperback novel.

If you're not a literary critique and are looking for an easy-to-read love story this might do the trick.
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on March 13, 2010
This book was a fabulous, easy read. The way Sparks develops his characters is outstanding. The relationships are honest, easy to relate to and intriguing. I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a well-written love story marked with unexpected turns. By the end of the story you don't want it to end. Since I finished this book I have ordered 3 more of Sparks' books.
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on February 4, 2010
I loved this book - I highly recommend it for anyone who is looking for a story they can 'get lost in'. I read it from cover to cover in a day and wished it didn't have to end. The book is well written and the characters' love story gives you hope that true love really does exist.

Well done Nicholas Sparks!
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on May 11, 2010
This was my first nicholas sparks book. I didnt know if id would like it, but once i started reading it i couldnt put the book down! its romantic, fun, sad.But over all such a great book, if your thinking about getting this book you should!.
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