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Description⎮Reviewed Mar. 2016
Narrator: Sean Pratt
Length: 9h 40m
Publisher: Hachette Audio⎮2011
4.75 ★ Audiobook⎮ You know what’s my favorite thing about Nicholas Sparks’ books? How perfectly everything always comes together in the end. I’m never left with unanswered questions or a feeling of incompletion. The puzzle pieces he masterfully scatters along like breadcrumbs somehow all fall into place. Like the title, for instance. Hearing a title used in a book is always thrilling (for me, at least) and somewhere towards the end of this one, Sparks used “the best of me” in a line and I thought “Oh, that’s where it came from”. But it was used again in the epilogue under completely different circumstances and when the final piece clicked into place, it was like a punch to the gut. I really shouldn’t have been surprised by Sparks’ ability to cause me such heartache, because he’s been doing it for well over a decade.
Nicholas Sparks’ writing became popular here in North Carolina before he was a big hit anywhere else. Everyone loves feeling like they are reading about their hometown. Granted, all of his writing has that “hometown feel”, but it naturally means a little more to North Carolinians. I swear to you, I practically got goosebumps every time he mentioned Raleigh or Durham, or UNC and Duke, because those are things I hear every day. It makes his stories seem that much more real to me.
Sparks is a master of creating fictional realities. He weaves just enough reality into his fiction to make you think that the story could actually be true. He develops his characters with such vivid description that they almost become tangible to the reader. Seriously, everyone else can just go home because I’ve never seen anyone do character development as well as he does. To make this point even further: I was watching cars go by on the road in front of my house yesterday and I actually found myself thinking “That looks like the kind of truck Dawson Cole would drive.” Seriously. This story got into my head big time. While I was in the middle of it, I remember wondering why I had gone so long without reading a Nicholas Sparks book (it’s been at least 7-8 years) and then the ending reminded me exactly why I stopped. It’s because he steals your heart and then majorly abuses it.
Nicholas Sparks is not a writer you should trust with your heart! All the defenses in the world cannot protect to you. I knew exactly what I was getting into and that did nothing to help me in the end. Starting a Sparks novel is like boarding a train you know is going to crash. But the train is just so pretty, you tell yourself it’s going to be okay. I had plans to watch the movie adaptation after finishing The Best of Me (it’s on Netflix), but those plans have definitely been canceled now. I need at least six months before I can even think of reliving this story. I needed almost 24 hours to even write this review. The only reason I am not giving this the full five stars is because
I’m still bitter over the ending I didn’t enjoy this story quite to the same degree that I enjoyed A Walk to Remember or The Notebook. And I’m still bitter over the ending. Yet, I’m still recommending it to you. Because I’m a martyr like that.
Narration review: In my opinion, a good narrator’s job is to bring an author’s writing to life. A great narrator allows the reader to become completely immersed in the author’s creation. An excellent narrator does all of that and manages to enhance the written word. Sean Pratt is an excellent narrator. His narration allowed me to feel like I was living in Nicholas Sparks’ world. When Pratt voiced Dawson Cole, I wasn’t hearing him voice the character Dawson Cole, I was hearing Dawson Cole. I stated above that Sparks’ writing was so vivid that it almost brought the characters to life. Almost. But it was Pratt’s narration that did the rest.
Sparks’ writing + Pratt’s narration= the perfect union. They complemented each other in a way that facilitated something truly beautiful. Pratt’s unobtrusive narration style enabled Sparks’ writing to shine. Not only did he adjust his tone and accent distinction according to character, but also to the writing style. The writing called for a third person narrator (omniscient), so Pratt adjusted his narration style accordingly. The third person narrator had no discernible accent, as opposed to the slight (in some cases not-so-slight) southern drawl of the characters. The writing style also involved numerous POV changes, all of which Pratt handled with eloquence. The amount of POV changes would have surely bothered me with any other narrator, but Pratt’s incredible handle on each of the characters’ distinctly unique voices and personalities saw me through it. I am certain that this story wouldn’t have had nearly the same effect on me without him. ♣︎
➜ This audiobook was graciously gifted to me by its narrator, Sean Pratt, in exchange for a review containing my honest thoughts and opinions. Thanks, Sean!