Book Review: Perfect Days by Raphael Montes

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February 03, 2016
Finally! A book about a delusional psychopath told from the perspective of said psychopath? Yes, please!

If you’ve been around this blog long enough, you’ve probably figured out that my favorite thing about true crime books and crime fiction is the psychology and the inner workings of these messed up individuals. Unfortunately, these books are usually written from the perspective of the victims or the detectives who are trying to catch them, leaving me to only speculate on the motivation behind their actions.

Perfect Days, finally, has given me what I’ve always wanted.

Pack your bags, we’re going on a road trip!

Teo Avelar, a medical student, is somewhat of a loner. His days are spent in between home, taking care of his paraplegic mother, and at school with his best friend, Gertrude, the somewhat decomposed body of a woman they’re studying in anatomy class… Yeah. Teo doesn’t seem to truly care for anything—he takes care of his mother because that’s what’s expected of him and his connection with Gertrude is more about the idea he has of the kind of person she used to be when she was alive than any morbid attraction to a cadaver. He describes his life as a “monotonous routine, devoid of happy or sad moments” and as depressing as it might sound, he’s fine with that.

But then he meets Clarice. A happy-go-lucky free spirit who is the total opposite of Teo and who awakens in him feelings he had never experienced before. He’s in love! He’s sure of it! So in a move that only makes sense in the mind of a really disturbed person, he kidnaps her. Because of course, there’s no better way to make someone like (nay, love!) you back than to harass, stalk and stuff them in a suitcase!

What follows is a road trip of disturbing twists and turns around Brazil filled with pretty gruesome events and a glimpse into the mind of a delusional individual who’s devoid of feelings and completely out of touch with reality.

Needless to say, I really enjoyed this book! It was a compelling read from start to finish and so twisted that I had to put it down a few times because as much as I loved getting into the mind of the psychopath, there were parts that made me very uncomfortable. The way Teo reasoned his actions and every life-altering decision he made on behalf of other characters was nauseating and while I never liked or felt sympathy for him, seeing things from his point of view made for a very interesting (and unpleasant!) perspective.

And trust me, I didn’t go long before picking it up again! It’s that kind of book.

It's also a book with the worst cast of characters that I have ever encountered, and by worst I don’t mean that they are terribly written, just that they are really terrible people. All of them, in some way or another, played a big part on the way the events unfolded in Perfect Days; from Teo’s worried mom to Clarice’s uncaring parents, friends and ex-boyfriend, and even the corrupt police officer that only shows up for a page or two... They all have one thing in common and it’s that all of them could have saved Clarice a whole lot of trouble! Funnily enough, it was the police officer in particular that struck a chord with me because of the way he handled his meeting with Teo. I come from a country where that kind of corruption runs rampant and seeing it featured in Perfect Days gave the book a needed touch of reality.

And I guess that would be one of the things that didn’t convince me about this book: the lack of reality. Some of the events of this book seemed a little far-fetched and exaggerated, and a good dose of suspension of disbelief is needed to not get thrown out of the story as the plot thickens and the tension picks up. On the bright side? It keeps the novel from ever crossing the line into “this could actually happen to you and isn’t that terrifying and nightmare-inducing?” territory… which works perfectly for me because I don’t need to add “paranoid of being stuffed in a suitcase and kidnapped” to my list of neuroses!

The one other thing I wasn’t too keen on was the writing. This is a translated work so I am sure that has a lot to do with the fact that the writing felt stiff and too technical at times. I’ve never been a fan of reading translated works for this very reason, too many nuances get lost in translation sometimes, but the premise was just too intriguing to pass up and while the writing irked me a little, it didn’t take away too much from the story or made it any less creepy. Just think how much more disturbing it probably is in its original language, though!

Also, that ending? No spoilers! But oh, the injustice breaks my heart. I hated it so much, but I also think it was a perfect ending, very refreshing to see in this genre. It still pissed me off, though. It was then I realized how invested I was in these characters because I had trouble falling asleep after finishing the book, I was so angry!

Yep, that kind of book.

I thoroughly recommend Perfect Days. Especially if you’re looking for a fast-paced, deeply disturbing story and the most messed up example of unrequited love I’ve ever come across in a book. It will have your skin crawling, but you will not be able to put it down!

Perfect Days by Raphael Montes comes out February 16th, 2016 from Penguin Press.


(I’d like to thank The Penguin Press for providing me with a digital ARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)
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