The Spectacular Now, by Tim Tharp


2.5 stars

Man, am I in the minority here. After reading raving reviews, watching the movie trailer and receiving recommendations from people I care about, I was expecting an emotional book that left me in tears. What I got was a book about drunk teens doing stupid things, partying, and drinking some more.

The Spectacular Now is about Sutter Keely, who has a drinking problem and lives in denial. Denial of his messed-up family, denial of his alcoholism, etc. Once he wakes up on a random front lawn and meets Aimee, he makes it his personal goal to take this shy, nerdy girl and give her a taste of his life of partying and “having fun,” falling in love with her on the way.

I was never emotionally invested in the romance, it seemed forced and unrealistic. As Sutter only spends time with Aimee because he thinks he has to “save” her and has no interest in her, you never really are sure of the point where his love for her becomes real. I was incredibly disgusted with how he kissed her and asked her out because he thought he was doing her a favor, not because he liked her, and this and other events never made me sure of whether Sutter really loved her or not, making for a romance that doesn’t work.

An issue on my side was that I expected too much out of this book. This book had potential, and I could see it, but sadly, it didn’t deliver. There could very well be an emotional, sentimental message at the end of this book, something to remember from it. However, I never felt that both Sutter and Aimee got anything good out of the events in this book, even Sutter’s alcoholism is not entirely addressed and/or fixed by the end of this book. There was no message, no conclusion. Although I liked the ending and don’t think it could have ended any other way, it didn’t feel complete, not all the story lines of all the characters were concluded, or at least in a place where we feel we can end the story. (Yes, yes, I know you all say that the message is “to live in the now,” but honestly, the only times that was mentioned was when Sutter was neglecting his future and drunk, so it lost its validity)

I can see why this book is an award winner. In fact, most people who’s opinions I trust liked this book, which includes my blog partner Haven. However, The Spectacular Now is not my kind of book, as I expect more than petty romances, drinking, and partying. If you wish to read something emotional or meaningful, I would suggest that you look for reading material elsewhere.