Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Review: The Spectacular Now

The Spectacular Now
Author: Tim Tharp
Published: October 20, 2008
Paperback, 294 pages
4 Gold Stars

(summary 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.

I picked up this book because there is a movie coming out this summer based on it. I didn't really know what it was about, just that the movie looked good and I wanted to read the book first. I was surprised when I started reading it. Sutter has such a unique voice that I was pulled into his world until the last page. I went to every party with him, drank large 7ups mixed with whiskey with him, and even found a friend in Aimee like he did. This book was unlike any book I've read before. It's in a category of its own with a protagonist that you're probably not rooting for. But somehow Tharp made Sutter likeable even when he's the most unlikable character there is. Because even though I wasn't rooting for him for most of the book, I was disappointed with him in the end. This of course, means I cared what happened to him, meaning I was rooting for him.

Sutter has a drinking problem. He drinks morning, noon and night. He of course does not see this as problem, but it slowly creeps in around him when others start telling him they've noticed it. He loses his job, his girlfriend and best friend, but somehow gets Aimee, the good girl in school, to party with him. Sutter swears he won't fall for Aimee, that she's just a girl who needs help with her self esteem and he's there to help. But the more they spend time together, the more he realizes she may be the person he needs to change his life. Aimee has a troubled life, is very quiet, and finds herself falling hard for Sutter. To her, he is exactly what she needs, but he's not sure it goes both ways.

The narrative really stuck out to me. Sutter's way of talking is unique and strange and different. He'll interrupt with stories, go on binges while he's drinking, and claim the inner workings of his mind are not what they seem. Even at the end of the book, I still didn't quite understand him or his motives, and I think that's what's kept him in my thoughts. I've never read a character like him and I'm still not sure I even like him. The story could have been reminiscent of a John Green novel, with the character who doesn't quite fit the status quo, but it's completely different at the same time. This is not a love story. This is not a book about issues. Sutter's drinking problem is not what needs to be fixed, nor is it. Sutter doesn't really learn anything from his actions and he doesn't get very far throughout the book. Every time I thought he'd change, he wouldn't, and every time I thought I knew what he would do next, I was wrong. 

I'm interested to see how this story will play out on the big screen as most of the interesting aspects of it are inside Sutter's head. I wonder if they'll change the ending or make this into something that it's not, because it's perfect in its uniqueness. It is not your average YA novel and that's what I love about it. Unlikable characters are hard to master, but Tharp has done a fantastic job.

“Besides, it doesn't matter if it's real. It never does with dreams. They aren't anything anyway but lifesavers to cling to so you don't drown. Life is an ocean, and most everyone's hanging on to some kind of dream to keep afloat.” 

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