Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Reading: The Walk by Richard Paul Evans

The Walk by Richard Paul Evans is a book I randomly bought at a Marshalls store a few months back.  My friend was taking a terribly long time looking at jackets and so I decided to walk around the store and found, to my surprise, a book section.  Normally the book selection at department stories isn't usually my taste but I saw this book and figured, the story looks good and it is cheap.  I bought it.  Richard Paul Evans is an author I had never heard of before buying this book but have since seen everywhere after I bought it.  He is very Nicholas Sparks-like from what I have observed.  I can't say I am a huge fan of Nicholas Sparks stories though.  While his love stories are okay and his messages are usually very good, his books never really moved me nor do they carry much weight in terms of literary content.  That is just my experience with his books after reading four of them (The Notebook, Nights in Rodanthe, Dear John, The Last Song).  I guess I will find out if Evans is the same way once I read more of his books which it seems like I have to do since The Walk turned out to be the first book in a series of three. 
The fact that this book is the first in a series is something I want to address right away because it irks me.  Now that I know where Evans stands in the reading world, it seems like the story was only split in three for the purpose of making more money.  The Walk would have been a much stronger read had it been one read.  While sequels can be great, the key to strong novels in a series is a feeling of closure at the end of the novel while still holding a sense of, what is going to happen next.  This book just sort of ended and while yes it ended with a huge event happening and changing the main character's point of view, it did not take his character change into more detail and I am assuming it will be continued in the next book.  There was no need to end it there because it was already a quick read and I'm positive people would have kept reading.  The book had no closure and it is a bit obvious what will happen next.  Either way, it is obvious that there is not much of a technique to splitting these books up to be a series and are only split for the purpose of earning more cash. It should have been one book.
The Walk is the story of a man named Alan who is high up on the advertising ladder.  After just making a deal with a new company with his business partner Kyle, Alan gets a call from his neighbor that his wife was severely injured while horse back riding.  She is paralyzed from the waist down.  After bringing her home, complications occur and in a matter of hours after returning her to the emergency room, Alan's wife dies.  Caught up with grief, Alan does not want to live on this earth without his best friend anymore.  As he is about to swallow a bunch of pills, something stops him and he makes the decision to drop everything and take a walk.  He plans to walk from his home in Seattle, Washington to Key West, Florida. 
The concept of this book is one I've seen many times.  A person's loved one dies and then they go to live their life to the fullest.  We have all seen it before.  That being said, an overused structure can always have a unique and underused take and I read this book with an open mind.  I liked that Alan decided to take a walk to clear his mind and figure out where he would go after his wife's death but I also had a problem with it.  All of a sudden he thinks, I always wanted to hike across the country as a kid and so he just does it.  It doesn't go much deeper than that.  Of course there are circumstances I am not mentioning since I don't want to ruin the entire story for anyone who plans to read this book however this still didn't do it for me.  A man who had everything and had a mindset of a business man needs more than just a childhood dream to go and do something.  Or I should say, I need to know why this childhood dream pushed Alan so far to the edge that he felt he had no choice but to go on this long walk. 
The read was very quick.  I read it in a little over a day.  There were some pluses to the book that I very much enjoyed.  At one point, Alan's phone rings while he travels and he decides to throw it into the forest.  I liked this part because to become connected we must become disconnect...speaking of course of a technological society.  Another part I liked was the whole concept of walking across the country and the people you meet along the way.  My absolute favorite quote from the book is from one of the people Alan meets who says, "Some people in this world have stopped looking for beauty, then wonder why their lives are so ugly.  Don't be like them.  The ability to appreciate beauty is of God.  Especially in one another.  Look for beauty in everyone you meet, and you'll find it.  Everyone carries divinity within them.  And everyone we meet has something to impart."  This quote seems to sum up the entire purpose of this book series to me.  It is very obvious where this book series is taking us and if it goes in a non-uplifting direction I will be incredibly surprised.  I do look forward to the rest of Alan's journey though and can't wait to see how his walk changes him.
Now for another negative about this book.  While the story has many strong points and has a lot of potential, Evan's writing is extremely lazy with detail.  At one point I read a sentence that seems to summarize Evan's writing in this book, which said, "Almost as soon as I woke, the pain returned.  If you've known loss, you know what I mean."  That's the entire book's idea of description for the big issues.  As I said above, Evan's did not dive into Alan's deep persona or explain his reasoning for going on this walk to make it realistic or character connecting.  It leaves the reader to assume his underlying motives.  I think it is safe to say that this book was not written for literary attention but more for the New York Times and to uplift which is all good and just but as a serious reader, I hoped for more. 
The Walk was an overall good read.  I enjoyed the concept of the novel and found it to be very uplifting but I also feel that the book should not have been split into three books but should have been just one book, and that Evan's needs to go deeper with his descriptions.  I will give it 3 out of 5 stars and look forward to reading the next two.

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