Book Review: The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp

Spectacular Now HeaderWhen I was growing up I had the nice stories of films like She’s All That to fill my head with the lies about the glory of teen makeovers for love; this week reading The Spectacular Now destroyed everything.

The stories are still pretty comparable in my eyes, but instead of the fun beach volleyball and choreographed dances to Usher DJing the prom, The Spectacular Now goes for a more serious approach by following Sutter Keely, a guy who has had more to drink in one week than I’ve had in my whole life.  I honestly don’t know how he survived long enough for this book to have more than one chapter.  But don’t worry; we can change him, right?  Surely the nerdy girl that he makes into his own pathetic-to-desirable project will be able to fix up this broken boy as they change each other for the better and everyone is redeemed and cuddling with puppies on top of rainbows in the end, right!?  Wrong!

Am I supposed to like this book because it goes the non-perfect/happy ending route with its truthfulness?  Screw that.  It’s not like I need a happy ending; just ask Atonement how crinkly its pages are now thanks to my dried tears.  But I want something that is at least satisfying, and The Spectacular Now provided none of this when I reached the end.  Maybe had Aimee been more than the malleable weakling that she was then I would at least have some level of contentment when it all unravels, but I just can’t stop being so sad and angry at these two for how it all plays out.

Maybe the whole point of the book is to put me in the place of the people who care for this character, which the author definitely accomplishes.  They all see the rut he has put himself in and that he is unwilling to mature and evolve as a person, and that’s why they slowly drift away from him.  But I can’t do that as I am stuck with him as a narrator, living out his remaining time in high school with the belief that he is the ringleader of a circus that everyone else is happy to be at.  But we’re not happy anymore, Sutter, not happy at all.  Except for Aimee.  Who is an idiot.

I cheered so hard for The Spectacular Now and the characters within the pages no matter what the outcome was for the relationships Sutter has as his good times just keep on rolling, but I was more than happy to let those good times roll past.

Final Grade:  2 out of 5 stars     

PS – I hate 7Up now.

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