“When I wrote See Me, my singular goal was to surprise and delight you as a reader.” (Sparks)
Nicholas Sparks wrote this on his official website on the 13th October 2015, the day his latest book was released online and in bookstores around the US and UK. This book is also already available in Malta.
Colin is an ex-con trying to start afresh and managing to keep out of trouble, at least most of the time! Meanwhile, Maria is the perfect picture of good looks and brains, stuck in a job that poses more hassling than rewarding. In typical novel fashion, these two are bound to become attracted to each other, and despite Maria’s reservations (and her parent’s dissent), she is soon dating the tattoo-sporting fit man who is nowadays juggling studies and bartending at the ripe old age of twenty-eight.
Main characters can never live in a vacuum and usually need help being propelled along the way. This time, Evan and Lily are the lucky couple, who not only show up to support Colin and show him how to dance but also ultimately help save the day, literally. To all intents and purposes, the set-up tricks the reader into thinking this is yet another romance story, were it not for one important detail.
The prologue immediately warns readers that Maria’s family is under imminent danger, introducing us to the story from the villain’s point of view. We don’t know who the stalker is, and seeing as this first scene is set at the university where we soon get to know that Colin is a student, the reader is made to instantly doubt Colin’s intentions. The first pages even reveal that the stalker is out to avenge Cassie, though we’re not sure what his relationship is with the girl who is now either deceased, or else suffering in some way.
The book, in typical Sparks fashion, is well thought out and contains no unexplained shortcuts. Rather, the author has fitted as many twists and turns as is possible into one story. It pays attention to detail, and once the pace picks up, you’ll not want to put it down. In fact, if Sparks’ goal was indeed to surprise, then he should be getting full marks for this project. However, a novel is a multi-faceted thing and the author loses some points for giving Colin and Maria’s relationship next to full attention for the whole of the first half of the book.
My reaction when I went to collect my copy of the book was just how big and thick this paperback was. I remember thinking that it was very obviously above the usual word limit given to novel writers by publishers but hey, when you’re Nicholas Sparks, who’s going to turn down your novel for a simple matter of size?
The whole story could very easily have been condensed into 80 percent of the whole and still work. As it is, things only start moving nearly half-way through and that is no way to keep your reader entertained. Thankfully, the remaining part of the story makes it worth the read and I had even forgotten all about the time for being too lost in this book!
When I had reviewed The Best of Me, I had concluded that this Sparks novel was a light read meant only to entertain. This time, I’m very pleased to say that See Me is one that will keep you thinking and guessing till the end.
The book for this review was kindly provided by Agenda Bookshop.