NORMAN — When I put down Nicholas Spark’s most recent love novel, “The Lucky One,” I had one reaction: to gag.
Spark’s stories — including a string of New York Times Best Sellers and box office hits like “The Notebook” and “A Walk to Remember” — follow a pretty basic formula. Complicated love, a tragedy like death, followed by a swift and unrealistic happily ever after.
And “The Lucky One,” at number 5 on the Best Seller’s List for 9 weeks and number 2 in the box office after last weekend’s movie opening, is no exception.
The tale follows U.S. Marine Logan Thibault as he seeks what his best friend, Victor, calls his “destiny.”
While serving his third tour of duty in Iraq, Thibault finds a photo of a young woman. After trying to find the photo’s owner, Thibault pockets the photo and discovers his luck quickly improves.
With the lucky charm by his side, Thibault dodges death almost endlessly. When he returns home to Colorado, Victor urges Thibault to discover who the woman behind the charm is.
Naturally, Thibault loads up his backpack, puts on his tennis shoes and walks to Hampton, N.C., with his German shepherd, Zeus, in tow, in hopes of finding the mysterious woman.
After arriving in the small town, Thibault gets to work tracking down the woman. Although he’s unsure what he’ll do when he meets her, he finds the woman, Beth Green, working at her grandmother’s dog kennel.
Thibault is hired for basic labor around the kennel, and what follows are painfully long descriptions of what’s for dinner, what the yard looks like, and of course — how stunningly beautiful Thibault finds Beth.
A sometimes awkward, sometimes charming, and sometimes dangerous romance ensues as Thibault falls for the divorced mother of one.
The danger comes from ex-husband Deputy Keith Clayton, a hot-headed, pervert who still views Beth as his personal property. Though, more often than that, Clayton’s arrogance is just that — arrogance — and rarely elicits any drama to make the story really interesting.
It doesn’t help that the characters are boring. Beth — predictable. Thibault — too perfect. And Clayton is such a jerk he’s hardly human.
So when the story finally climaxes in a life-or-death situation, it’s hard to care who makes it out alive.
Save for a few tender moments, like Beth’s grandmother Nana’s quirky life words of wisdom for Beth, this book is better left on the shelf.
And if you can’t stay away from the draw of Sparks, hit up the movie theater. The storyline is just as boring in film, but at least Zac Efron is looking good.