I’m happy to announce that I am finally done with this year’s Reading Challenge! Woooohooo! It feels good to accomplish something! Anyway, based on my half drunk post earlier, the last book I read to complete this challenge was Tim Tharp’s The Spectacular Now. There are possible spoilers below so if you haven’t read the book or saw the film, it’s time to stop reading.
The reason I read this book is the movie and the buzz. I don’t know if they’re going to screen it in the Philippines but I have avoided the trailer until now that I’ve finished reading because I’m one of those people who’d rather read the book first because I don’t want the movie to alter my interpretation of the book. I actually have high hopes for this book not only because of the great things I have read about its film adaptation but also because it’s YA and you can never go wrong with YA. And I wasn’t wrong. I finished the book in two days because I was so invested. At 1:00 a.m. today, I went to sleep with a black hole in my chest.
Here’s a synopsis from GoodReads:
SUTTER KEELY. He’s the guy you want at your party. He’ll get everyone dancing. He’ ll get everyone in your parents’ pool. Okay, so he’s not exactly a shining academic star. He has no plans for college and will probably end up folding men’s shirts for a living. But there are plenty of ladies in town, and with the help of Dean Martin and Seagram’s V.O., life’s pretty fabuloso, actually.
Until the morning he wakes up on a random front lawn, and he meets Aimee. Aimee’s clueless. Aimee is a social disaster. Aimee needs help, and it’s up to the Sutterman to show Aimee a splendiferous time and then let her go forth and prosper. But Aimee’s not like other girls, and before long he’s in way over his head. For the first time in his life, he has the power to make a difference in someone else’s life—or ruin it forever.
Okay. For me, Sutter is not very likable. He’s someone I will probably date but will also cry about every night because he’s a goddamn asshole. He’s fun, sure but he is also a man without a plan. That does not necessarily mean that I don’t like the book; you don’t have to like the characters to love a book. I like it even more because of him and his spot on world views. I like reading about his stories because they were well written and straightforward.
I’ll tell you what The Spectacular Now is. It’s a realistic portrayal of addiction. I guess it’s no surprise to everyone that the great Sutterman is a drunk but that isn’t blatantly stated in the book, which I like. It’s a daring move from Tharp, letting the readers decide if Sutter is really a drunk or just bored out of his wits. He appears young and fun, a typical teenager in Oklahoma. He did noble acts to help others, true, but these noble acts always benefited him at some point.
And to me, I think Sutterman believed himself to be a savior of some kind. Whenever someone was out looking for a buzz, he was there to hook them up. He helped his best friend Ricky and partnered him up with Bethany. Then he found his way to Aimee and, after spending one morning tossing the paper route, decided the girl needed to be saved. Sutter sees everyone’s problems but his own – that’s what he is to me.
The Spectacular Now is not a love story, either. His relationship with Aimee unleashed the flake in me. I wanted them to work, I wanted Aimee to do the saving (she did try), I was hoping for Sutter to get his goddamn act together, but there’s a tiny part of me that knows where their relationship was going. For a moment I really thought Sutter learned to love Aimee but at the end you could still tell he was pining for Cassidy and would get back together with her if an opportunity presented itself.
I was also frightened of Sutter. After the disappointing daddy plot, they were on the road, Aimee and Sutter, and they were having this huge misunderstanding. The drunken rage was real and palpable. I was terrified for Aimee because I can feel Sutter shifting gear – from the funny, charismatic boy to this raging drunken abusive monster. Et voila, the BS realization he had after the accident was so obvious; I saw it coming and it felt a tiny bit forced.
The Spectacular Now tells a good story with believable imperfect characters. Sutter ending up alone in a bar was a spectacular ending. It was a blow nobody would expect or want (or both), hence the black hole in my chest, but that makes the book more powerful. If it concluded any other way, the entire book would be a sell-out.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Recommended to: everyone.