Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Nicholas Sparks and the "Oh, Snap!" Factor

Earlier today, my friend Ali and I somehow started talking about Nicholas Sparks stories. Oh, wait, now I remember why we started talking about them--I was making fun of her for reading Dear John. Before I go any further, I should clarify: I hate Nicholas Sparks. I. Hate. Him. Well, I don't hate him--I just hate his stories. They're so over the top, ridiculously sappy that I would rather take a knife, stick it in my side and dig it around until I disembowel myself than sit through one more stupid movie based on one of his novels. To date, I've only seen two movie adaptations and read zero novels--and I'm embarrassed to say I saw the movies. Ali normally shares this sentiment, but she saw the preview for Dear John, wanted to see it, and figured she would read the novel beforehand. Guess what? She hated it.

Which brings us around to the topic of our conversation. Is there a story Nicholas Sparks has written that isn't depressing? We started comparing notes on the books we've read or the movies we've seen and out of the handful we discussed--five--not a one has a happy ending. Oh, sure, some of them have happier endings, but we weren't able to call them truly happy endings. Someone either dies or the two people in love can't be together because of some other factor. Which brings us to the "Oh, Snap!" factor and makes Nicholas Sparks kind of a douche.

What is the "Oh, Snap!" factor, you ask? Well, it's something we made up. Have you ever verbally dissed someone and then triumphantly exclaimed, "Oh, snap!" afterwards? This is exactly what Nicholas Sparks is doing to his characters and, indirectly, his audience. Cases in point (spoiler alerts):

1. A Walk to Remember

In a nutshell: The unlikely love story of a Christian girl and a rebel boy in which the Christian girl shows said rebel boy the true meaning of unconditional love and he discovers that what's inside the book isn't always reflected in its cover. However, the couple's love is tested and they are eventually ripped apart when the Christian girl reveals that she is terminally ill and ends up dying.

What Nicholas Sparks is really saying: "The homely Christian girl turned out to be pretty nice, eh? So now you're in love? Can't live without her? Want to marry her? Okay, we can arrange that. But she'll have to die eventually. Oh, SNAP!"

2. The Notebook

In a nutshell: A couple's love survives all odds including family expectations, physical separation and Alzheimer's Disease.

What Nicholas Sparks is really saying: "You love this girl, right? So after a tumultuous relationship and break-up, you'll marry her. But then she's going to come down with Alzheimer's Disease and won't remember you anyway! Oh, SNAP!"

3. Dear John

In a nutshell: Army Guy meets Girl. They fall in love. Army Guy then gets sent overseas for a few years, where he communicates with Girl via letter-writing. Girl ends up getting engaged to another guy while Army Guy is overseas, but Guy #2 has cancer and might not live as they don't have money for treatment. Girl breaks up with Army Guy via letter. Meanwhile, Army Guy's dad dies, and Army Guy comes back home. Army Guy is left with some money so he anonymously donates it to Girl for treatment for Guy #2. Guy #2 ends up living and he and Girl live happily ever after while Army Guy is left lonely and grieving.

What Nicholas Sparks is really saying, "You love this girl, right? She's what's keeping you going while you're in hell overseas? You can't live without her, want to be with her forever? Well guess what? She's going to get engaged to someone else, and your dad will die! Oh, SNAP!"

4. The Last Song

In a nutshell: A teenage girl and her younger brother are sent to their dad's house for the summer. The teenage girl hates her dad for divorcing their mom and ripping their family apart and avoids interactions with him like the plague. She ends up falling in love with some guy and re-building her relationship with her father, who eventually dies. At some point in this mess, she and the guy also break up, but he ends up surprising her by visiting her at college. You're left wondering if their love will survive.

What Nicholas Sparks is really saying: "Isn't this nice, you're experiencing love for the first time and now you and your dad are getting back on track? BOOM: break-up and death, respectively, and you'll be left alone. Oh, SNAP!"

5. Nights in Rodanthe
In a nutshell: A woman's marriage is in the shitter, so she goes to a bed-and-breakfast to clear her head and think through things. She meets a guy who has an equally fucked-up situation under his belt, and they end up falling in love. The guy ends up forsaking their love for a trip to South America to reconcile with his estranged son, where he is killed.

What Nicholas Sparks is really saying: "It's nice to have someone to talk to, right? He's cute and considerate, right? Oh, you're in love? Well guess what? He's going to South America TO DIE. Oh, SNAP!"

So there you have it. Nicholas Sparks and the "Oh, Snap!" factor. What a sappy douchebag.


  1. I hate the ending too.

  2. I didn't read what you wrote about Last Song or Dear John because I don't want to be spoiled, BUT...

    for The Notebook at least it was realistic for the most part. MANY older people get Alzheimer's (including my Grandpa), and they had a solid 40 years of happiness together before that happened and they died with her remembering and in each other's arms.

    The other two.... yeah, Oh snap.

  3. LOL. I hate him sooooo much.

  4. Ok, but you gotta admit. The beach house in the Rodanthe movie was BAD ASS. I love that house. But yeah, super depressing otherwise.