Perfect Days: A Novel
By Raphael Montes
A twisted young medical student kidnaps the girl of his dreams and embarks on a road trip across Brazil in the English-language debut of one 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. 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 begins to stalk her, first following to her university, then to her home, and when she ultimately rejects him, Teo 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 keeps digging himself deeper, 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 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. (Amazon)
I can’t say enough how much I enjoyed this book. I was glued to each page and had difficulty putting it down each night. The story was a great psychological thriller from start to finish, and although it may not give the reader the satisfaction that your normal everyday thriller does, it does give the reader some very interesting characters and an unusual story. This book will challenge the reader to go beyond their comfort zone and is a great psychological thriller from start to finish.
At the beginning of the story, the main character, Teo, is in class thinking lovingly about his friend Gertrude. Teo is a brilliant medical student but has no friends except for the aforementioned Gertrude. When I discovered who Gertrude was, I began to see that Teo was a very lonely young man, and I wondered how disturbed Teo might be.
It becomes clear very early in the book that Teo has a personality disorder (sociopathic?) and that he lacks the ability to empathize or understand another individual’s point of view. He is very egotistical and can only see things through his own eyes. From his dealings with his mother, to his feelings about both her dog and her close friend, Teo only thinks of them in how they impact him. That is until he meets Clarice. Clarice is a free spirited young woman who likes to party and live large. I love the contrasting personalities of Teo and Clarice and how Teo is drawn to Clarice like a moth to the flame.
Throughout the book, I was initially rooting for Clarice to escape the web that Teo had drawn around her. I wanted the usual revenge story where the protagonist suffers in punishment and understands why he is being punished. Why this book was so interesting for me is that it made me realize that every time Teo is challenged or thwarted, he cannot see it as the consequence of his own actions. When things don’t go Teo’s way, he can only see blame in others and isn’t capable of seeing that his own actions are reasons why people are behaving the way they do. Teo is very egotistical and does not think other people are as smart as he is and therefore don’t understand what he is doing is only for their best interests. It doesn’t matter to Teo that Clarice does not want to stay with him and he doesn’t understand why her feelings matter more than his own. The slow understanding for myself that Teo would never gain any understanding of how his actions affect other people made me realize that revenge would never affect Teo in any satisfactory way. Until the very end, which was delicious in its simplicity and left me wondering if Teo would finally feel the same horror he had inflicted on others throughout the story.
I look forward to reading more stories from this author in future and would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys thrillers with a twist.