5 Reasons The Safe Haven Book Is Better Than The Movie
We're supposed to wonder if Katie is actually a murderer. As a tactic to hunt her down, Kevin lists Katie in some kind of national detective database as a murderer, which gets a wanted poster put up in the Southport police station with her face on it. It's basically the same idea as keeping Kevin's true identity a mystery-- putting in a potential twist that the audience is way too smart to fall for. Making matters worse, Alex (Josh Duhamel) eventually sees the wanted poster at the police station and confronts Katie about it, somehow also convinced that she's secretly a killer on the lam. It gives them the chance to have the fight scene that always occurs around the 2/3 mark of a movie, but come on, this is a Nicholas Sparks joint-- we all know the score, and it's ok to move past that and back into the kissing in the rain.
There's no actual suspense about how Kevin finds Katie. Surprisingly enough Nicholas Sparks isn't a half-bad detective novelist for half of Safe Haven, following Kevin as he hunts down Katie and getting into his brain as he rationalizes his behavior. It lends the book a lot of tension, as you dread the inevitable moment when he finds her, and helps balance out a lot of the sap of the romantic scenes. In the movie-- maybe because Hallstrom knows everyone bought a ticket for the romance on the beach-- the Kevin storyline feels like an afterthought, and it's generally irritating to cut back to him. The movie has no interest in giving him an internal life, just making him a Terminator on the way to ruin the romance. It shortchanges half of the book's entire story, and if you ask me, the most interesting half.
Jo is basically an afterthought. If you've been reading reviews of Safe Haven, you can tell that a lot of people are completely fixated on this twist-- which, to be fair, is insane in the book too. But at least in the book you get a sense of Jo as Katie's confidant, as an actual person who might exist in the world, with her own backstory that informs her conversations with Katie. In the movie Jo pops in and out of the story basically whenever it's convenient, giving Katie someone to walk with in montages about how she's fitting into the world and to talk about plot-advancing subjects. She's as real as… well, a ghost. Maybe the movie just wanted you to get the twist as fast as possible.
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