Monday, March 2, 2015

Review: Crazy Love You

Summary: No one writes “good scary fun” (The Washington Post) better than New York Times bestselling master of psychological suspense Lisa Unger. With more than 1.7 million books sold in more than thirty countries, it’s clear why USA TODAY declared that her thrillers “should be on everyone’s to-read list.”

Falling in love can feel like a dream…or a living nightmare.

Darkness has a way of creeping up when Ian is with Priss. Even when they were kids, playing in the woods of their small Upstate New York town, he could feel it. Still, Priss was his best friend, his salvation from the bullies who called him “loser” and “fatboy”… and from his family’s deadly secrets.

Now that they’ve both escaped to New York City, Ian no longer inhabits the tortured shell of his childhood. He is a talented and successful graphic novelist, and Priss…Priss is still trouble. The booze, the drugs, the sex—Ian is growing tired of late nights together trying to keep the past at bay. Especially now that he’s met sweet, beautiful Megan, whose love makes him want to change for the better. But Priss doesn’t like change. Change makes her angry. And when Priss is angry, terrible things begin to happen… -- Touchstone

I usually love Lisa Unger and her novels, so I was excited to see that she has another new book out titled CRAZY LOVE YOU. CRAZY LOVE YOU takes fans back to The Hollows, a city about two hours outside New York where some very interesting events have occurred in the past. In CRAZY LOVE YOU, there is a whole lot more strange going on in this town; and I'm pretty certain this book brings The Hollows creepiness factor to a whole new level!

In CRAZY LOVE YOU, Ian Paine, a cartoonist and graphic novelist living in New York City finds he is at a crossroads in his life. His success as an author and his relationship with Megan are beyond his wildest dreams and very far removed from his childhood in The Hollows. Ian is ready to marry Megan and also bring an end to his successful series based on his real-life "Fat Boy and Priss;" however, his childhood friend Priss has other ideas.

Priss was Ian's "saving grace" as a child. Ian met Priss in the woods after his mother killed his little sister and tried to kill Ian. Ian was no exactly popular at school and obviously had a troubled home life, and Priss was his best friend. After they left The Hollows and moved to New York City, Priss still made occasional appearances in Ian's life... and usually trouble followed her.

Ian is ready to marry Megan so he is trying to make a break from Priss while at the same time bring an end to his successful series. As real life blurs into fiction for Ian, the reader is left wondering how Ian can wrap up the major parts of his past and also start a new life with Megan because the dangerous and controlling Priss doesn't seem to want to let Ian go!

CRAZY LOVE YOU was quite a ride! It was a bit of a coming-of-age story, mystery, psychological suspense, and for someone like me... a bit of horror/supernatural. It was disturbing on quite a few levels, and I honestly had no idea what was going to happen. At times, I was confused if Priss was real or just a figment of Ian's imagination.

The story was told by Ian, and quite honestly, I didn't even know how reliable of a narrator he was. He didn't seem to be entirely stable, although by Priss standards, he was relatively normal! Of course, he had a horrible childhood between his unstable mother and the bullying at school; and it's no wonder that he wasn't entirely "normal." The story seemed to blur for me at times, and I didn't know whether to believe Ian or what he thought was happening. I had my ideas, but I just wasn't sure. It definitely made for an intriguing read.

CRAZY LOVE YOU would be a fun, yet interesting, book club pick. It definitely isn't what my book club would normally read, but the more I think about it, the more I think it would be a unique selection. There is a reading guide available with fourteen questions as well as some suggestions for ways to enhance your book club meeting. Some of the things you might want to discuss include darkness, mental illness, art, fate, addiction, parent/child relationships, second chances, transformations, and obsession. In addition, I really appreciated how Ian's work was tied into the story, and I think there is definitely some room for interpretation among the members.

CRAZY LOVE YOU is an interesting psychological mystery. I definitely recommend it to fans of Lisa Unger and other psychological thrillers!

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.

Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read. Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read.


bermudaonion said...

My book club would never go for this but I do love Unger's books. I'm looking forward to this one.

Beth F said...

I love psychological mysteries but they seem to be a hard sell to clubs -- and even to my neighborhood friends.

Kay said...

I've enjoyed other books in Unger's Hollows sorta-series. Loosely connected series is probably better. Anyway, I'm looking forward to this one. Well, I'm in a mystery group and I'll keep this one in mind. Sometimes psychological mysteries work for us and sometimes not. GONE GIRL was totally disliked. :-)

techeditor said...

I read this, too. I agree and disagree with your review.

The first two-thirds of CRAZY LOVE YOU is a five-star book, the best kind, the kind that is unputdownable.

Ian grew up as an overweight sissy. His mother is confined to a mental hospital because of a horrible crime she committed when Ian was a child, a crime that almost involved him. For these reasons, he grows up with anger management problems and still has them even now that he is an adult and successful writer of graphic novels (fancy-smanchy term nowadays for "comic books").

Priss (isn't that name a synonym for "sissy"?) is the child he meets in the woods behind his home when he is a fat child. But so what, I thought. I was bored enough that I decided to quit if the story didn't redeem itself by page 50. On page 49 I caught on and realized I shouldn't have been bored. Here's what readers should know right up front so the book is unputdownable for them. (I reread the first 49 pages.)

Priss is not what she appears to be; she is a mystery throughout this book. And then so is Ian. Is he crazy? Is he good or dangerous? Is Priss dangerous? Or is she not even real?

So why, then, does this book get just an average rating? Because the last third degenerates to the supernatural and becomes just plain silly. If the entire book had been written like this last third, the rating would have been zero. It's too easy to solve mysteries by blaming them on supernatural silliness.