Book Review: The Last Song (Nicholas Sparks)

The Last Songs

“The pieces all fit together. Yet everything was falling apart.”

Times read: Four times

Ronnie and her brother Joshua travel up to the coast to go visit their father, Steve, the man that abandoned their family three years ago, for the summer. She is extremely unhappy about it all, especially with her mother who is making her go. At seventeen, Ronnie is rebellious and argumentative about everything, and wears a streak of purple in her hair mainly to annoy her mother. Despite being constantly contradictory she still isn’t the bad kid she pretends to be – she is always kind to her ten year old brother and any strangers who need help, have good manners when needs be and never smokes and drink like many of her friends.

Immediately after arriving Ronnie heads to the beach without speaking to Steve. At the beach there is a volleyball game going on and one of the players, Will, accidentally runs into her and spills her soda all over Ronnie. Fuming, she storms away and meets Galadriel, a strange girl who calls herself Blaze. Blaze is dating Marcus, a sociopathic teenager with an affection for pyrotechnics. Together they hold fire-throwing shows illegally on the beach. Ronnie and Blaze immediately have a rapport between them, and Blaze shares how her parents are divorced as well and constantly dating. Ronnie tells Blaze about her troubles in New York, particularly her shoplifting escapades, which she did for fun until she was caught a second time and nearly got into big trouble. Marcus, who is cruel and likes being ugly to his very insecure girlfriend, begins to flirt with Ronnie. Ronniehowever is a true friend who has excellent senses when it comes to douchebags and tells him very firmly that he should leave her alone. Marcus, unable to stand her dismissal, turns it around so it seems that she was flirting with him. The next day Ronnie tries to tell Blaze what really happened but she refuses to hear anything bad about her boyfriend, and slips stolen CDs into Ronnie’s bag and Ronnie gets arrested by one of her father’s friends.

Ronnie is distraught to be caught stealing again, especially since she didn’t even try to steal the CDs. Surprisingly, her father believes her and suggest they don’t tell her mother unless it is necessary if charges are laid against her. This improves their relationship and she starts to connect with the father she has been ignoring for three years. Her brother tells her about the church window he and their father has been busy building for their Steve’schurch that had to be rebuilt after mysteriously burning down the previous summer.

Walking on the beach with her father they spot sea-turtle nests. Her father explains how endangered they are and that raccoons will probably destroy the nest before the eggs hatch. Ronnie becomes determined to save them and spends the night sleeping at the nest, protecting them. The next day she requests help from the aquarium and they send a volunteer to mark the spot so a temporary protective cage can be hatched. The volunteer is Will, and when the cage isn’t up the same day Ronnie is furious with him, sure he didn’t do his job. He insists he did and offers to spend the night protecting the nest, and they begin to understand each other and a relationship develops.

Blaze still refuses to acknowledge that she put the CDs into Ronnie’s bag and the charges against her remain. Blaze’s life is rapidly deteriorating and she moves in with Marcus when her mother kicks her out. Even though she asks for Ronnie’s forgiveness, she won’t admit to what she did because Marcus, with his ongoing grudge against Ronnie and Will, will kick her out of the house.

Will also has some problems. Accepted and forced to attend Vanderbilt when he actually wants to study environmental sciences, he feels trapped by his mother’s overbearing nature. He also knows what happened to the church – his friend Scott accidentally set it alight with a firecracker, and Marcus saw it go down. Marcus uses this important information against Will and Scott, knowing that Scott will most likely lose all chance at getting a scholarship for university if the story gets out. Will doesn’t want to split on his friend because Scott saved Will and his mother’s life when they nearly drowned, with Scott regularly reminding him of it. Will’s mother immediately dislikes Ronnie and it gets even more strained when Marcus ruins Will’s sister’s wedding and his mother blames Ronnie because Will can’t identify Marcus, in fear of Scott’s secret getting out. Megan, the bride and the only person who kept her head through the ordeal, visits Ronnie the next day and asks her to not back off from Will. Ronnie, who told Will it is over rushes to him and tells him that she is sorry.

To cap it all, Steve father reveals that he is dying of cancer. What will happen to his and Ronnie’s relationship, finally on the mend? Will Blaze be able to escape the cycle of abuse she is in and own up to her treachery? Can Will ever reveal the truth of the night the church burnt down and betray the boy who saved his life? Will Ronnie and Will survive the nightmare that surrounds them or will they only remain a summer fling?

Rating: 6/10

I had a much nastier rating planned for this but the book improved slightly as I kept on reading. I have to say that it seems Nick Sparks is writing books for movies these days. His earlier works (The Notebook, Message in a Bottle, a Walk to Remember) are poignant and strong, beautiful and solidly written. His most recent books are littered with cheap, compulsive, tear-jerking tricks that I truly get irritated with. The writing style is still enjoyable but he seems to have lost focus as to what his books used to achieve.

I have issues with the male leads in his books. I get that Steve was trying to reconnect with his daughter before his death, but it is highly unrealistic that any parent would tolerate such attitude under any circumstance. It is irritating when a female is a whining-snotbag but it is utterly revolting if you read a whining-snotbag male. Will had some cute moments but overall he came through as utterly spoiled and privileged. I mean, honestly, he was complaining about having to go to Vanderbilt. If that isn’t a brat, I just don’t know what is!

Lastly, I dislike the book because it reminds me of a time when Miley Cyrus, who played Ronnie in the movie adaption, was still a pretty brown haired teenager instead of a blonde haired attention seeking desperado. I miss those days.

Have you read the book? What did you think?

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