Friday, 12 August 2016

The Spectacular Now - Tim Tharp

“Yeah,” she says. I’m beginning to see that her “yeahs” are almost always two syllables, one for “yes” and the other for “but I don’t know if anything will ever come of it.”

The Spectacular Now, I’d say, is a novel about youth. It’s about finding yourself and about finding your place, sometimes it’s about finding that there’s no place for you. It’s real and young and it should be everything I ever wanted.

The two main characters, the narrator Sutter Keely and the girl with insight, Aimee Finicky, are about as different as any two people can be. He’s foolhardy, outgoing and careless, she’s warm, calculating and only has wild adventures in her daydreams. She lives in the future, where she has worked out everything, while he doesn’t even want to think a day ahead of time. He gets the rare chance to make a change in her life, to convince her to come out of her shell and live, but at the same time he could end up ruining her. Of course, on this mission, which is not about seducing her, they end up dating, the unlikely couple surprising working. That’s pretty much the plot of the book, leaving out only what happens after they’ve ended up dating.

Oftentimes Sutter got on my nerves, for he is self-righteous and presents his thoughts like they’re the only truth. Empirical observing turned into scientific facts, he believes he understand guys, girls and life better than the people around him. The novel is clearly written by a man, and Sutter, while thinking of himself as a gentleman, ends up being a terrible jerk more than once. Maybe I’m not Aimee, but I didn’t find his carelessness about everything charming or even bearable. I don’t think people should be allowed to be so immature all the way until early adulthood. I didn’t like him constantly thinking about himself first, no matter how many times he named Aimee as his priority.

Sutter searching for his father felt much like the search in The Fault in Our Stars – if you want something too much, build it up in your mind and think it’s everything you’ve ever wanted, you’re bound to be disappointed. Only one of these books ends in a catharsis I found personally satisfying, however. I felt like The Spectacular Now didn’t have enough real, actual, heart-breaking joy to make up for the times it made me sad and despairing. The balance was off and the book left me wanting something else.

There’s that 2013 movie based on this book, and if I understand it correctly, it ends well differently from the book. I don’t know if I’m happy with that. I didn’t like the ending I read, but maybe that just meant I didn’t like what I had set out to read. The actors are some of the current YA novel-to-movie favourites – Miles Teller, Brie Larson and Shailene Woodley. Maybe I’ll give it a watch one of these days, since the novel wasn’t a total waste of my time. It wasn’t good, either.

PS. Sorry about not posting anything lately - I lost my laptop charger and finally, finally caved in and bought a new one! Will be posting reviews on all the books I've read this summer asap!

1 comment:

  1. Amazing! What a perfectly fair review, perfectly augmented, I much enjoyed. Loved the line 'Empirical observing turned into scientific facts', very satisfying! Three months exactly from your last one! I'll be excitedly looking out for more. <3