Book: The Spectacular Now
Author: Tim Tharp
Pages: 304 (Paperback)
Genre: Young Adult
Age Recommendation: 15+
“She is drunk, not on alcohol, but on her St. Louis hopes and dreams. I wouldn’t sober her up for anything, but she doesn’t need me anymore. She can hang on to her dreams by herself now.”
Sutter Keeley is the guy everybody wants at a party. He can get everyone dancing, keep everyone smiling and wants nothing more than for everybody to be happy. He isn’t particularly the brightest guy in school and he has absolutely no plans for the future. He lives in the now. Aimee on the other hand is a social disaster. She doesn’t really care about how she looks; she has never had a boyfriend and dreams of space, horses and an amazing future. Sutter feels that it is up to him to help Aimee have a ‘splendiferous’ time and then set her free. But Aimee is more than the nerd he expected her to be. Soon enough Sutter is in way over his head and for the first time in his life he’s found himself with the power to make a difference in someone’s life.
The Spectacular Now is one of my favourite movies of all time. Not just because Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller are currently two of my favourite actors but I absolutely love the story. When I found out it was based on a book I could not wait to give it a read but for a long while things constantly got in the way of me reading it. Last week I finally bought it and I was so ridiculously excited I ended up reading it pretty quickly. While there are some differences between the novel and the movie I still really enjoyed it!! I adore Sutter. I think his character is fantastic. I spent the entire book just wishing that Aimee could turn him into a better guy. He is so charismatic he reminds me of the sort of people in life that can be complete idiots but you can’t help but laugh at things they do and you can’t help but like them most of the time. Sutter is pretty screwed up but you just want things to get better for him and you want him to learn how to dream. Aimee is adorable. I LOVE her. If you’ve seen the movie she isn’t quite as sweet as Shailene’s Aimee but she is still a wonderful character. She sees so much in people. Aside from the character’s personalities,what I really love about the book is not only seeing how Sutter changes Aimee but how Aimee changes him. She teaches him how to dream, how to consider the future and how to think more about others. I don’t know if many people know about the Manic Pixie Dream Girl theory? It’s the idea that in film and TV there’s always a character (often female) who is there to keep the others on their feet – to keep them laughing and dreaming and to teach them how to get through life with a smile. For example Zooey Deschanel’s characters in New Girl and Yes Man or even more recently – Augustus Waters in The Fault In Our Stars. In The Spectacular Now, I feel that both Sutter and Aimee play this sort of role. Although Sutter might disagree, it’s not just about him educating Aimee. They teach each other how to live. That, for me, is what makes the story so brilliant. I truly believe Aimee changes him more than he seems to realise.
Finally – the book is short and sweet and not to forget, in first person. If you’ve read any of my other reviews you’ve probably learned that that has become a really positive aspect for me. If you like books such as The Perks of Being a Wallflower or anything by John Green, I’d really recommend this.
Film Adaption: The book was adapted into a movie with the same title and it was released in 2013. If you read the book you’ll notice that, in terms of Sutter, the character arc is pretty limited – can Aimee really change him? The movie is slightly different. It really emphasises the fact that these characters are changing each other and that it isn’t just a one way system. This is why I am extremely happy the writers chose to end it how they did.