01/14/2013 04:56 pm ET Updated Mar 16, 2013

52 books, 52 weeks -- Week 2: Safe Haven?

It's week two of my 2013 reading challenge (52 weeks, 52 bestsellers -- you can join the Goodreads group here if you want to read along and join the discussions) and the book I had to read was Nicholas Spark's Safe Haven. Now, as I mentioned at the end of my last column, I'm not a massive fan of Spark's work. That doesn't mean he hasn't escaped my reading notice. I've read The Notebook and Nights in Rodanthe, and seen those movies and the movie of A Walk to Remember. And to be honest, and completely unoriginal, while I found the books to be "easy reads," I also found them to be predictable and repetitive. To date, I enjoyed Nights in Rodanthe the most, but probably because it was the first one I read.

So I started reading Safe Haven with some trepidation. The book is about a woman, Katie, who moves to a small town to get away from something (an abusive husband, we find out shortly) who befriends a widower with two adorable children. Problems ensue.

The beginning of the book seemed to confirm my fears. Funnier people than me have written articles about the Nick Sparks formula, and Safe Haven seemed to be following it to a T. Plus the movie poster for the upcoming movie looks, wait for it, like all his other movie poster covers (I know this is probably not his fault, but still do they all have to look exactly the same?) Anyway, as I was reading, I was wondering how I was going to play it; as an author, I'm generally against negative reviews for the sake of being negative. I think you really need to make a case for it, and even then, it's touchy. And, as I've already mentioned, the humorous takes on his formula have all been taken.

But a funny thing happened on the way to a potential bad review. The book took an unexpectedly dark turn. Not in its plot, but in its point of view. Halfway through the book, Sparks dives into the mind of the abusive ex-husband that Katie is running from. And this is where the book gets interesting. We spend quite a bit of time in Kevin (the abuser)'s mind in the second half of the book, and while it's not pleasant, it is compelling reading.

So in the end I found this book a pleasant surprise. I can see why Sparks fans have rated this book so highly. I only wonder how they're going to work the final twist into the movie. Because -- SPOILER ALERT -- no one but M. Night Shyamalan in The Six Sense has successfully included unknown ghosts into a movie.

Safe Haven is still sitting atop the overall list this week, so I've turned to the e-book list (I admit, because Fifty Shades of Grey is back on top of the trade paperback list). That means I'll be reading Hopeless by Colleen Hoover. I've never heard of this book or this author (part of the whole reason I'm doing this project), but it comes with an NC-17 rating from Amazon, so ... see you next week!