Monday, February 8, 2016

Review: Perfect Days

Summary: A twisted young medical student kidnaps the girl of his dreams and embarks on a dark and delirious road trip across Brazil in the English-language debut of Brazil’s most celebrated young crime writer.

Teo Avelar is a loner. He lives with his paraplegic mother and her dog in Rio de Janeiro, he doesn’t have many friends, and the only time he feels honest human emotion is in the presence of his medical school cadaver—that is, until he meets Clarice. She’s almost his exact opposite: exotic, spontaneous, unafraid to speak her mind. An aspiring screenwriter, she’s working on a screenplay called Perfect Days about three friends who go on a road trip across Brazil in search of romance. Teo is obsessed. He begins to stalk her, first following her to her university, then to her home, and when she ultimately rejects him, he kidnaps her and they embark upon their very own twisted odyssey across Brazil, tracing the same route outlined in her screenplay. Through it all, Teo is certain that time is all he needs to prove to Clarice that they are made for each other, that time is all he needs to make her fall in love with him. But as the journey progresses, he digs himself deeper and deeper into a pit that he can’t get out of, stopping at nothing to ensure that no one gets in the way of their life together. Both tense and lurid, and brimming with suspense from the very first page, Perfect Days is a psychological thriller in the vein of Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley—a chilling journey in the passenger seat with a psychopath, and the English language debut of one of Brazil’s most deliciously dark young writers. -- Penguin Press

It should have been a clue to me that the new novel PERFECT DAYS by Raphael Montes was exactly a typical thriller when the ARC had a sticker on the front saying, "Tell Us When You Get to Page 198. #perfectdays." Of course, I was dying to know what happened on page 198; and I don't think I put the book down until I reached that page... and then I just kept on reading! This book is one crazy ride!

The basic premise of PERFECT DAYS is that a lonely Brazilian medical student meets a girl and immediately becomes obsessed. He kidnaps her and then travels across Brazil with her. However, that brief description does nothing to convey how twisted and disturbing this novel is!

Teo is (almost) a pitiful man. He lives with his mother who is confined to a wheelchair and has virtually no friends. In fact, his best friend is a human cadaver that he works with at the university. (See... I told you this book is a little strange!) When he meets Clarice, a young woman who is everything Teo is not -- rash, creative, brave, etc., he immediately becomes obsessed with her and begins stalking her. When Clarice lets Teo know she's not interested in him, Teo decides to kidnap her (hint: check out the front cover!); and together, he takes her around Brazil in the hopes that she will eventually share his feelings.

It's probably obvious to most of you, even if Teo doesn't see it, that things aren't going to work out in the way he had planned. Clarice gives Teo a run for his money, and Teo finds that keeping her kidnapping a secret involves even more troubling behavior... but he's determined to do whatever it takes to make her his own!

PERFECT DAYS is one creepy story.... but I mean that in the nicest way possible. It's a fast-paced thriller that's I found difficult to put down (although I think the sticker about page 198 did contribute to my reading frenzy!) It has many twists and turns, and I found myself questioning a lot about Teo and Clarice and their relationship. I will say this, though, page 198 (in the ARC) was one of the most shocking and disturbing pages I've ever read!

PERFECT DAYS is one of those books that will definitely have you scratching your head. Teo is one of the most insane characters that I've come across in recent memory, and his antics are almost unbelievable. He is willing to do anything, and I mean anything, to keep Clarice from escaping. I found almost everything about him to be difficult to read, and I have to warn you that the big surprise is not for the faint of heart. It's grotesque and it will definitely make you uncomfortable. You might even gasp!

As much as I appreciated PERFECT DAYS, I don't know that I'd say I loved it, but I did like it a lot. It was an intriguing read and most definitely a page turner, but I felt that the book depended an awful lot on the shocking scene. Maybe that's because I was reading for that? That's certainly a possibility. What I will say is that I found I had to suspend belief in Teo's character and his actions... which didn't bother me one bit. However, I also felt I had to do that for Clarice's character because she was certainly a little "off" too. As horrible as Teo was, I found Clarice to be almost as bad.

Having said that, I did enjoy the cat and mouse games between Teo and Clarice. The tension in the novel was pretty high for most of the story, and I honestly can say that I didn't know what to expect from either character. As Teo felt more and more pressure and became more and more paranoid, I could just feel that something major was going to happen. I thought Mr. Montes did an outstanding job with these scenes and, really, the entire tone and pacing of the novel.

I do think readers who enjoy psychological suspense will appreciate PERFECT DAYS. It is an interesting story with some very unique characters, but it's not for those readers who are the slightest bit uncomfortable with gore!

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.


bermudaonion said...

This sounds really creepy and now I'm very curious about page 198.

Unknown said...

I am dying to read this one! I've seen such great reviews lately and I'm also extremely curious about this page 198 :)

Beth F said...

I find that I enjoy a book less when I'm reading to discover the twist.