I'm not sure how I've boxed myself into a corner, defending a Nicholas Sparks book, but here we are. I picked up the book of Safe Haven on a whim, knowing I'd probably wind up reviewing the movie and figuring I could use a heads up on what to expect. Then I saw the Safe Haven movie, out in theaters this weekend, and was amazed-- it had the power to make me actually appreciate the book.

If you're a fan of Nicholas Sparks books but you've never gotten on board with the movie adaptations, well, I think I finally know what you've been through. Here are the 5 biggest reasons that Safe Haven the book is far superior to Safe Haven the movie… and given how little time it takes to read a Sparks book, why you might be better off spending a few hours reading the book instead of seeing the movie this post-Valentine's weekend.

Katie leaves her husband in a hurry instead of planning it out. We see Katie (played by Julianne Hough) escape her abusive husband Kevin (David Lyons) in the very first scene of the movie, but if you're familiar with the book, it all feels wrong. She's throwing clothes in a suitcase, she's bleeding and frantic, and she rushes over to the neighbors' house for solace before taking off for the bus station. In the book Katie is practical and plans out her escape to a T, in a way that lets us know her character as a very smart woman caught in a nasty relationship. In the movie, she's closer to the typical abused woman you see in movies-- desperate to get out but without any idea of how to do it. It's a much less interesting character to follow.

We're not even supposed to know that Kevin is her husband until halfway through the movie. Seriously-- around the midpoint we finally learn that Kevin isn't an ordinary detective on the hunt for a fugitive, but the husband Katie has escaped from. Director Lasse Hallstrom treats this like it's supposed to be some huge reveal, but it's hard to imagine anyone walking into this kind of romance who doesn't already know that. Instead of getting into Kevin's head they way the book does, engaging with his twisted logic and fits of rage, we're watching him as if he's just some good-hearted cop… until he's not! Not only is it unfair to the character, but it's pandering to an audience that's definitely too smart for that kind of needless twist.

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