Virgin River by Robyn Carr (Book #1 + Netflix Series Review)

Synopsis

Wanted: Midwife/nurse practitioner in Virgin River, population six hundred. Make a difference against a backdrop of towering California redwoods and crystal clear rivers. Rent-free cabin included.

When the recently widowed Melinda Monroe sees this ad, she quickly decides that the remote mountain town of Virgin River might be the perfect place to escape her heartache, and to reenergize the nursing career she loves. But her high hopes are dashed within an hour of arriving–the cabin is a dump, the roads are treacherous and the local doctor wants nothing to do with her. Realizing she’s made a huge mistake, Mel decides to leave town the following morning.

But a tiny baby abandoned on a front porch changes her plans…and former marine Jack Sheridan cements them into place.”

-Synopsis from Goodreads

Cover of Virgin River by Robyn Carr
Cover image from Amazon

I watched the Netflix adaptation of Virgin River prior to reading the book. I think that impacted my reading of the book, for reasons that I will expand on below. Because of that, I will be sharing my thoughts on the Netflix adaptation first, followed by my thoughts on the book.

*light spoilers ahead*

Netflix Series Review

I knew I was going to like this show from the very first episode. The setting of Virgin River in Northern California is such a huge part of the story, and the scenes of the river, the mountains, the cabins and the small town are so appealing to me. I was immediately drawn into the story by that dramatic setting.

I really liked Mel and Jack so much. They are hands-down my favorite part of the series. As most viewers have shared over the year or so that this show has been on, there are a handful of characters that are disliked by so many people. Two of them happen to be Hope and Charmaine. The reason I dislike them is because they are constantly getting in the way between Mel and Jack, but they add a lot to the story to say the least.

The show is definitely binge-worthy and I wished there had been more episodes of each season – ten just wasn’t enough. I am so glad that there will be a season three, especially since season two had such a cliffhanger ending.

Book Review

I bought the book on a whim and read it the other week, thinking it would be something light and fun to read for spring. Overall, it was an enjoyable read with memorable characters, a unique setting, and lots of dramatic and suspenseful moments but it was nothing like the show.

At first, that didn’t seem to be the case. The first few chapters reminded me so much of the show. I loved that, because the characters were familiar and sometimes it’s nice to read a story where you already know what’s going to happen. When I got about 100 pages or so into the story, I realized it was taking some turns that the show didn’t. For one, a lot of what occurred in this book happened in season two of the show. I wasn’t prepared for so many of the events and characters to pop up as early as they did, or as late as they did.

The biggest surprise may have been how little Hope was shown in the book. Although she is the one who hires Mel and is the first person she meets in Virgin River, Hope is practically nonexistent. I even felt that Doc wasn’t as big of a character as I expected him to be. Another character who wasn’t nearly as significant was Charmaine, which was also very surprising.

One things that I wasn’t crazy about was the dialogue. It didn’t always sound realistic to me, and there was a lot of repetition for me. The middle of the book seemed to drag a little, but the ending went from zero to one hundred in no time. Things definitely picked up in the latter half of the story and by the end I was already wanting to read more.

Final Thoughts

I cannot emphasize more that the book and Netflix show are two completely different experiences. I have talked to a lot of readers who said they simply couldn’t get into the book after watching the show. If you are a patient reader, this book will be just right for you.

If you think this story sounds appealing and you want to see the meat of the story and the characters, I would recommend watching the show. Whereas the show has something happening in every scene and every episode, I can’t say the same for the book. There were so many slow moments in the book, and while those suspenseful, high-drama moments did make up for it, I felt the story was dragged out just a little.

However, the biggest difference is that I think we get to know Mel and Jack on a much, much deeper level in the book and that is why I enjoyed it so much. Mel’s character is so strong and that is the reason why I would feel compelled to keep reading this series. Ultimately, I ended up liking both for different reasons, and I don’t see that as a bad thing.

Will I Continue the Series?

I will one hundred percent be watching the rest of this series on Netflix. As of now, I will be continuing the book series as well, but it’s not high on my to-read list as there are so many other books I want to read in the coming months.

Have you read Virgin River or watched the show? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

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