“Dear John” by Nicholas Sparks: Book Versus Movie: Which is Better?

“Dear John” by Nicholas Sparks: Book Versus Movie: Which is Better?

Nicholas Sparks is one author that I sometimes compare my writing to (as in “If you like the way Nicholas Sparks writes, you’ll like the way I write”).

Nicholas Sparks does not write “formulaic” romance with happy endings. He does have his own “formula,” though: readers know if they’re in the mood for a good tear-jerker, they can pick up a Nicholas Sparks novel. It’s a tear-jerker because Sparks is a master at creating characters the reader cares about.

I too have a “formula” that doesn’t lend itself to the standard romance. And like Nicholas Sparks, I develop characters that struggle with issues other than (and in addition to) a complicated romance. (Although I’m more of a happily-ever-after kind of gal.)

Dear John tackles some of the same issues that True Surrender does – chiefly, what happens to relationships when one of the participants is in the military (a theme I often explore in my writing). Like Dear John, True Surrender is written from the male’s point of view (John Tyree).

Because of my recent interest in fusing writing and imagery, I decided to watch the movie before I read the book this time. I often hear people say the book is better than the movie. In this case, there were things I liked better about each.

(Spoiler alert!)

The book focuses more on John’s relationship with his father (who is assumed to have Asbergers), whereas the movie’s main focus is the romance (surprise!). The sequence of events was rearranged a bit, but I could see how that was desirable for the movie “format.” Some character details were also altered, but most of these did not impact the story too much.

There were two BIG differences, though.

The first: In the movie, John is shot while on patrol in the Middle East. I enjoyed this Hollywood “addition” because… well, I write about this kind of stuff. However, it wasn’t really necessary for the storyline; I was left with the impression that it was inserted into the movie because the war in Iraq and Afghanistan is a hot topic today.

The second big difference: the ending in the movie is “happy” – in that the inference is that they will finally get to be together. The book ending, on the other hand, is vintage Sparks; the hero will forever pine for the woman he loves and cannot have.

3 thoughts on ““Dear John” by Nicholas Sparks: Book Versus Movie: Which is Better?

  1. Jeff Rivera

    Tracey, I’ll have to read your stuff. I write Nicholas Sparks-like love stories as well. You’re right. He doesn’t write traditional storybook endings; they’re realistic but the problem is sometimes you just want to believe things will be wrapped up in a nice bow. I liked your review of Dear John the book versus the movie. It’s such a great storyline. Everyone wants to believe the love of their life will stick with them no matter what and no matter how long and Savannah faces the same thing a lot of women left behind in war have to face. So I really liked it. Actually my favorite parts were the subplot of John and his dad. That was the most touching to me. Thanks for such a great review!

  2. Jeff Rivera

    Movies do tend to be a little bit “adjusted” to the current situations in the world, but they still retain their meaning (if they didn’t, the movie probably wouldn’t get shot). Nicholas Sparks is a great author, he tends to make people “live” the lives of the characters. I met him once in Miami with his wife, he’s such a pleasant guy, he even bough me drinks while we discussed about writing! And he isn’t a snob, which is rare these days. Like the review and your music, keep on doing stuff you like it is great.

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