Emily May's Reviews > The Spectacular Now

The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp
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Sep 02, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: young-adult, 2012, contemporary
Read from March 04 to 07, 2012

Okay... so I've been putting off this review because I was unsure about my rating. My initial reaction was FIVE STARS!! FIVE STARS!! but then I got to thinking about my dislike for the ending and thought maybe I should round it down to four... and then I was like "but is my problem with the ending because it was bad - or because it didn't go the way I wanted it to?"... so I eventually kept my five stars because I am so completely in love with the amazingly complicated and wonderful character that is Sutter Keely. He is complex, multi-dimensional, so vibrant and full of life that it's hard to accept that he isn't real and about to jump off the page.

Tim Tharp has written a very funny, sad, thoughtful book that creates such an in-depth picture of a boy who is simultaneously lovable and exhausting. I am friends with the female equivalent of Sutter Keely, a person who you always want at your parties because you know they'll bring every social situation to life, a person who is kind and means well but is very hard to deal with in any more than small doses, a person who is nearly always just a little drunk. How many times have I rolled my eyes and thought "okay, give it a rest now"? I think I can appreciate the world through their eyes a little bit more after reading The Spectacular Now.

Sutter is the kind of multi-layered character I love to read about. On the surface he's a warm-hearted, over-the-top drunk, the kind of guy who's popular in high school but will probably never end up achieving his potential because his aspirations don't extend further than locating his next alcohol fix. Underneath all this he is troubled and sad and lonely, people often think that a drinker's problem is the alcohol, but nine times out of ten it runs far deeper than this. His dad is nowhere to be seen, his mum and stepdad seem to have forgotten he exists except for when they pause to threaten him with military school, his best friend no longer wants to hang around with him, he's just been dumped... and then along comes Aimee. The one person in the world who has ever seemed to need him, truly need him, to get her life back in order, to gain confidence and to sort out her future. Can Sutter finally make a difference beyond the small realm of his booze-fuelled spectacular now?

I'm still not sure how I feel about that ending. Do I like the fact that this book doesn't carry the message that we were all hoping for and expecting? Not really. But is this a representation of real life in all its fucked up, messy, sad, sometimes funny glory? Probably... yeah, probably. I guess in real life not everyone gets saved and perhaps that was what Tim Tharp was trying to say.
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Reading Progress

03/05/2012 page 68
23.0% "I just knew I'd love this!" 2 comments

Comments (showing 1-29)

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Reynje I need this book! Great review, Emily.

Emily May Thanks Reynje! I think you'll like this :)

Catie I love this book so much, but it breaks my heart! I thought that ending was perfect though (but of course...that's me...I love the grey/sad endings). Such a wonderful review, Emily!

Emily May Thank you, Catie :) It is such a fantastic book, I can understand why you'd love the ending, I just can't make my mind up about it. Part of me knows it couldn't really have ended any differently, but part of me (view spoiler)

Catie I know; I wanted him to realize his own worth too...but it wouldn't have been real. (view spoiler)

Emily May Just embracing who he was? Yes, let's hope so! :)

Catie Well, hopefully not embracing it, haha. But maybe finally wanting to change? I think the first step toward wanting to change is realizing just how miserable you really are.

Thanks for the discussion Emily! This book still gets to me.

Alyssa Sutter is a character I don't think I'll ever forget, and his struggles (and non-struggles) tore me up inside a little bit.

I love this book and I am so happy to see that you enjoyed it, Emily. It's great to see that people are starting to pay more attention to it.

Emily May I know, it deserves so many more readers, I just can't understand it. I would never have even heard about it if it wasn't for goodreads :/

message 20: by jesse (last edited Mar 10, 2012 09:02AM) (new) - added it

jesse sounds like a book i better avoid. i don't need another downer after harmonic feedback. i need me some fluffy, bubbly book..

message 19: by Dominika (new) - added it

Dominika As usual, love the review!

Emily May @Joe I don't know, parts of it are hilarious. It's just the overall message that's a little melancholy. If you're feeling up to it in the future, you should definitely check it out.

@Dominika Thank you! :)

Ariana I kind of forgot about this book, and I want to read it pretty badly. Thanks god that you reminded me of it ;))
You make me worry a bit about the ending, still I am gonna get it as fast as possible, before I forget again, LOL :)

Emily May Don't worry about the ending, Ari, trust me it's all worth it anyway :)

message 15: by jesse (new) - added it

jesse being made into a film. the script is being written by the writing team behind (500) Days of Summer, Scott Neustadter and Michael Weber. [ read article ]

Catie Not really liking the movie description: The story revolves around a wild, hard-drinking hard-partying high-school senior who starts dating a shy, insecure girl who ends up changing his life. Hope they get it right!

message 13: by Emily May (last edited Mar 29, 2012 09:30AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Emily May Yeah... I'm thinking they may not create the Sutter that we all know and love from the book :/

But I will still have to check this out! Thanks for the info, Joe :)

message 12: by jesse (last edited Mar 29, 2012 10:52AM) (new) - added it

jesse Emily wrote: "Yeah... I'm thinking they may not create the Sutter that we all know and love from the book :/

But I will still have to check this out! Thanks for the info, Joe :)"

i still haven't watched (500) days of summer completely. i'm probably the only one on this island, heh. :) i can't wait for the spectacular now though, even though i'm wary as far as mcdonnel's acting abilities are concernced ever since i saw him in suburgatory (which has got to be one of the most awkward/clichèd tv shows currently, w/ some funny lines, i'll give them that)

Catie When this comes out - I fully commit to doing a Book vs. Movie of it. Or maybe Tatiana and I can do one together. I loved 100 Days of Summer so hopefully there's a chance.

Hells Great review Emily. I only found this book after watching the trailer for the movie. I think Miles Teller as Sutter is a brilliant fit but I would bet good money they are not going to stick to the original ending. I think the last sentence of your review is spot on, that's the message I took with me too.

Jayda Thompson I just finished this book and I`m a little confused. Does Sutter kill himself in the end? Also this review was really good and really made you think.

Patrick You wrote a much better review than I did. I loved this book. Glad You felt the same. and I wanted a different ending as well.

Emily May Thanks, Patrick :)

Robin I am one who tends to like open-ended endings but I really wanted a little more hope at the end. I think there could have been at least a flickr of possibility.

Emily May I agree, Robin, though I still think I liked the rest of the book enough to justify my rating. But, yes, I too wish it had ended differently.

message 4: by jesse (new) - added it

jesse Emily May wrote: "I agree, Robin, though I still think I liked the rest of the book enough to justify my rating. But, yes, I too wish it had ended differently."

any of you seen the movie yet? i heard the movie version had the more positive ending (ala hollywood)..

Emily May Nope, I'm waiting to see what the general verdict is before I spend money on it. I'm keeping my expectations firmly low.

message 2: by Rae (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rae Ferro I think the Same

Cathryn Did you ever go see the movie? I've heard good things about Miles Teller. I finished the book and I was very disappointed with the ending. Not because it was open ended. I can deal with that. I just felt like the author was trying to give Sutter an epiphany but it didn't come off well. I'm still trying to wrap my head around this book. I gave it a low rating because I can't figure out how I feel about it. Maybe I'll revise that and give it higher. I'm not sure.

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