Thursday, November 14, 2013

Library Reads: Ben Sherwood's The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud

This is one of those stories where you probably heard of the movie before you did the book. Actually, I had forgotten it was a book till I stumbled across it in the library. Thinking that it looked like a compelling story I picked it up. While the first half of the book really isn't intriguing it does hit it's stride about midway through. I guess I couldn't help thinking though was that this reminded me a lot of Nicholas Sparks, and the endorsement on the back from Sparks doesn't help. It's like Supernatural Sparks.

Summary: Charlie and his brother, Sam, have an unbreakable bond. After a tragic accident almost killed Charlie, and left his brother dead the two can still communicate. Sam appears in a graveyard to Charlie, and Charlie can also see the others that are buried there. Some move on, and others have stayed behind. Charlie meets Tess though. Tess is making an attempt to sail around the world though, so when Charlie learns that Tess shouldn't be where he is seeing her he discovers the truth. Charlie must choose between staying with his brother so he doesn't fade, or seeking out where Tess really is.

Characters:  The characters aren't that interesting to be honest. The women feel like they have been formed from a man's perspective. I would place Tess in basically the same format that all Nicholas Sparks' character read as. About halfway into the novel she begins to take a life that feels more unique, but I found the parts of her interest in sailing a bit boring. The same is said for Charlie. He gets more interesting about midway through, but the baseball discussions just really dragged. I guess it's because these are people I would nothing to talk about with, so it was difficult to read about them outside of their problems they found. To be fair though his characters at least feel like he has tried to really develop them as their own people.

Writing: The writing is good. It's not too wordy, and feels like it is solid. There is a lot more narrative than dialogue though, and naturally the reader is more interested in reading conversations than about descriptions that last pages long. Some parts I had to force myself to stay focused. I do appreciate though how Sherwood's writing does have some passion to it though. I feel that he really is sharing a story that is somehow at home for him. He's not forcing the writing to meet a certain standard, but letting each chapter flow naturally.

Plot: The plot does get intriguing and unique about midway through. I like how he starts with a huge tragedy that catches the reader's interest, and the story never felt so predictable that I knew which way it might go. I was always preparing myself for however it might end. Sam also is a character that intrigued me to read about and I like how he develops along with the other characters. The book is a bit short and at the end you feel a lot is rushed in despite the fact it's just getting good.

Charlie St. Cloud is a good story and I can see why someone had an interest translating it to a movie. There isn't anything like I've read like it. I wish they hadn't tried to sell the book though with Sparks' name stapled to it. He's wrote some good stuff, but I think for a guy like Sherwood you don't want to be compared so early in your novel career that all I can think about is how much it sounds like another author when I'm reading your work. You want it to stand independent.

Rating 7 of 10.

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