Published by Penguin Press on February 16, 2016
Source: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration.
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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.
Teo Avilar is the antihero of Perfect Days. He’s a completely delusional psychopath who kidnaps a girl he falls in instalove with, thinking he’ll be able to win her over in order to spend “perfect days” together.
“Better to feel unrequited love than not to love at all.”
What is this book? A thriller? A dark comedy? Both? The blurb says Montes is a celebrated “crime writer.” His style here is unique, but it felt too divided. It’s hard to reconcile this book’s horrific, gruesome passages with the parts that feel almost…silly.
But you know, mad props to the author, because I sure did turn those pages! I’m equally ticked off and super impressed.
I think I enjoyed this book in the way I used to like watching soap operas. The plot was super predictable and the characters lean simplistic. Twists only surprised me momentarily, they quickly fizzled out into predictability. The last several chapters went off the deep end and honestly, I wanted to throw the book in disgust when I finished.
Yet, I couldn’t stop reading. As much as the ending makes me want to rate it lower than 3 1/2 stars, I can’t deny that I really enjoyed reading this book. I think Picard perfectly sums up my feelings: