What the hell do people see in Nicholas Sparks that keeps getting his pointless drivel turned into movies? I don’t understand. It’s not even good romance. He just throws poorly realized trauma-victim stereotypes at one another and mashes their faces together like a toddler playing with barbies. IT’S JUST NOT GOOD. Goddammit. Okay, let’s get this over with.
The Book: The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks
Genre: romance (not that Nicholas Sparks would admit it)
First impressions: …ehhhh? When I say that this book is not good, I don’t mean that it was bad. I mean that it was just…nothing. There’s nothing here. It’s boring and uncompelling and sometimes nonsensical and poorly written and just…blah.
The Longest Ride is a dual love story, following the meeting of bull-rider-with-dark-secret Luke and art-history-private-school-sorority-girl Sophia as they navigate their ~different worlds~, while simultaneously 90-year-old Ira Levinson sits dying in his recently crashed car hallucinating a reflective conversation with his dead wife about how epic their love story was. If it sounds like those two stories have nothing in common, THAT’S BECAUSE THEY DON’T. This book makes literally no effort to reconcile the two stories. They just exist next to one another until the last thirty pages, where Ira dies and thereby magically solves all of Luke and Sophia’s problems in the weirdest Deus Ex Machina twist I’ve ever seen.
Luke and Sophia’s story is sort of alright. I mean, they’re both walking caricatures carbon-copied from every other modern western romance novel you’ve ever skeptically eyed in a drug store check-out line, but at least they do things that are vaguely active. Ira and his dead wife Ruth literally just talk in weird first-person-past exposition dumps, telling one another their detailed personal histories that they both obviously already know because there’s nothing contrived about that, nope, not at all. The fact that it took me until halfway through the novel to realize that Ira’s story was just a set-up for said Deus Ex Machina ending says less about the surprising nature of the “twist” than it does about how LITTLE FUCKING SENSE it makes to use that as an ACTUAL FUCKING PLOT POINT.
Add to this the fact that both Sophia and Ruth have literally no personality beyond “deeply and immediately in love with a man who needs emotional healing” and I’m just…out.
Will it adapt?: Fuck if I care. I mean. Yeah, probably. It’ll translate to screen just fine, because it’s a tiny story easily cut down, the characters are basically cardboard cut-outs you can establish just by putting a hat on their heads, and there’s lots of opportunity for scenery porn. But the real question is, why would you bother??? It’s a stupid book and it’ll be a stupid movie, because Nicholas Sparks is a stupid self-important sexist hack.
Should I read it?: Fuck no.
“His voice, even now, follows me everywhere on this longest of rides, this thing called life.”
This post is part of my I Read It First series.