The Spectacular Now — Review

March 7, 2014

This wasn’t my favorite book. It did, however, produce a truly, well, spectacular line: “Embrace the weird.” Now, is it wrong of me to want that tattooed on me somewhere even though I didn’t particularly like the book? (I didn’t dislike it) or fid it super profound and meaningful? 

I do think that it is possible that had I read this book at a different point in my life it might mean something different to me. It might have felt more solid and relatable. As it is, I was left feeling somewhat flat. 

In The Spectacular Now we meet Sutter. He’s a teenager that’s kind of just flitting through life. He parties, drinks, and doesn’t have much of a direction planned. Nobody takes him seriously. Then he meets Aimee. She takes him seriously and he starts to think about things differently.

All the characters bother me a bit at different points.

Since story is told from Sutter’s point of view, we see the good in him, but sometimes he’s really frustrating and I really just want to shake him.

Meanwhile, his friends manage to simultaneously be a little bit awesome and spectacularly sucky. And Aimee is intelligent and naive and a pushover.

But here’s the thing (and I realize that it’s kind of ridiculous for me to bring this complaint to the table, but this isn’t fantasy or sci-fi or dystopian, this is straight-up YA): it doesn’t feel real enough or believable or genuine. Because I’m sorry, but if there was a kid going that far off the deep end as Sutter, someone would take notice (more than one teacher noticing a lack of homework). I’m not saying it’d be handled well, but there would be some glint of recognition. And these kids show a bizarre amount of self-awareness in one scene where they’re able to talk about real-life shit, but then turn into these flat, unrespoinsive characters in the next (one could argue that it mimics adolescence, but I’m a fan of consistency).

But Aimee. Oh Aimee. I find her characterization so incredibly bizarre. That she would create this whole other dream world fits; that she would go a bit too crazy with the partying even does, but her complete inability to detach herself and her sense of self from those around her is troubling. Even in the end, Sutter is still “saving” her by essentially prolonging the connection. Though he never vocalizes it, he recognizes this trait. I just find it a perplexing one given her other characteristics. She has a strongly deliniated identity and goals and dreams laid out, yet she hitches all her dereams on a guy? Yes, he helped her gain the confidence to stand up for herself, but she still needs to pursue her goals on her own. One with such lofty dreams should be able to grasp that concept fairly quickly. And yet…

So I was underwhelmed by this book. But I think that some of that might just come from being an “adult” reading YA. This book didn’t resonate with me like it might with its intended audience, and that isn’t really anyone’s fault. Not every book is going to speak to every person. I would still recommend it for some readers even though it didn’t do much for me.


2 Responses to “The Spectacular Now — Review”

  1. Gede Prama said

    Well written. May peace be with you 🙂

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