By Raphael Montes
Published by Penguin Press
on February 16, 2016
Cover image and summary from Goodreads:
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.
Let me say right away that this is a disturbing book. I don’t say that lightly – I often read books and watch TV and movies that others find scary or messed up or disturbing, without being affected. But there are moments in this book that upset me, and one scene in particular that, as I read before bed, made me put the book down, unsure if I wanted to read on, and then kept me up at night.
That said, I also think Perfect Days was an interesting, well-written book and it had me guessing right up until the very end about how everything would turn out.
The ending was…not what I expected. It was upsetting in a way, but kind of great in another way. I’m still thinking about it, unable to decide how I feel about it, and would love to discuss with someone who has finished the book!
As I started reading, I thought it was interesting to kind of get inside Teo’s head, to get his perspective. It was kind of novel. But as the story progressed, I became more and more uncomfortable and disturbed, and I was really sad for Clarice. I had to keep reminding myself that it was fiction, and Clarice was not a real person suffering from her ordeal with Teo.
If you think you can handle it, I recommend this book. It’s definitely one that will stay with me – not a day has gone by since I finished reading that I haven’t thought about it.
And as an aside, I listened to the Penguin Random House Beaks and Geeks podcast interview with author Raphael Montes, which I found quite interesting. It’s worth a listen if you’ve read Perfect Days.