Even though I’m trying to start up the habit of seeing movie adaptations before reading the books so I can fully enjoy both instead of nitpicking the movie, I ended up reading The Spectacular Now for this month’s review before seeing the movie. My impatience to know the story won out, and it was easier to download the book from the library than wonder when I could see the movie. (But now I wonder if RedBox has it. Note to self: check RedBox.)
It’s been about a week and to be honest I’m still trying to digest the book. It was quite a roller coaster through likes and dislikes, so I’ll try my best to articulate how I feel and maybe we can figure out my final thoughts together.
To start, the book is told from the perspective of Sutter Keely. Sutter lives in the moment–the spectacular now!–and has little interest in planning for the future. His biggest concern is making sure his convenience store cup is always full of Seven-Up and whisky. In his senior year of high school, he doesn’t even know when the college application deadlines are, and he’s comfortable with that. But when he meets Aimee Fineckey, a girl whose main loves include science fiction and horses (a far cry from Sutter’s partying habits), hijinks ensue, and Sutter finds himself questioning his approach to life, but only a little. Having just broken up with his “fat goddess girlfriend” Cassidy, Sutter inadvertently finds himself becoming closer to Aimee, and despite his protests that she’s just tutoring him in Algebra, he’s only trying to “save her,” well…you can probably guess where it went from there, even if you haven’t seen the movie trailers.
I was actually surprised at how long it took for them to even meet in the book. I kept waiting for Aimee to show up with each chapter, but it wasn’t until we finished getting a thorough introduction to Sutter and coming up to speed with his life that she showed up, finding him asleep on a neighbor’s lawn.
While the idea of a girl needing to be “saved” by a fun-loving, moment-embracing guy coming into her life isn’t exactly my favorite idea, the book isn’t a lost cause. It’s sweet, and so is Sutter. I told one friend as I was reading that he almost seemed too nice to be a teenage boy. It was certainly enjoyable to get a book told from a male perspective that was thoughtful, because I think it’s easy to write off teen boys (and teen girls–teens in general, really) as being frivolous and hard to take seriously. Even though Sutter jokes around and drinks excessively, he’s not a bad person. He’s just a flawed, arguably broken, person. With his background, you can’t really blame him.
The rest of this post will possibly be SPOILERY maybe, so just to be safe, if you don’t want to know anything about the ending, then don’t go any farther.
I think what really disappointed me the most was the fact that even though Sutter started to think, “Hey, maybe I should change my ways,” towards the end, he ultimately didn’t. At least, that’s not what I was led to believe when I finished the book, which closes off with him and his trademark whisky and Seven-Up. It’s cool, I guess, that you can argue it’s realistic; people certainly don’t always just quit drinking cold turkey. But I think the problem was that Tharp made me like Sutter so much, despite his flaws (and maybe a little because of them) that I wanted to see him succeed in the end. I wanted to see him overcome his own bad habits. And I guess I felt a little cheated when that didn’t happen.
But since John Green says books belong to their readers, I’m going to decide that Sutter takes a gap year between high school and college, gets himself together, and goes on to do and explore things that make him happy without relying on booze. A girl can dream, right?