Publication Date: February 16, 2016
Publisher: Penguin Press
Pages: 272 pages
I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for a honest review. This in no way influenced my opinion of the book.
After the success of Gone Girl, contemporary fiction has been constantly trying to find more shocking story lines that will draw readers, and hopefully eventually viewers, into their world. Perfect Days by Raphael Montes is the perfect example of this trend. Every chapter makes you think that this book has become as crazy as possible and then every next chapter will prove that it is possible for the story to get more crazy and sick.
Reading Perfect Days is like driving past a car crash. You know you shouldn’t look, but you can’t help slowing down and trying to figure out what happens. Teo is a med student with an obsession of corpses, especially Gertrude, his best friend who is an old dead lady and the corpse he has to cut open in class. At a party he meets Clarice and immediately feels connected to her. As a reader, it’s easy to tell that Theo is off, he barely talks to Clarice and yet his narrative shows that he feels deeply connected to her and is convinced she is madly in love with him, even though she barely talked to him.
Instead of trying to build a normal relationship, Teo kidnaps ‘his girlfriend’ and decides to take a trip with her so she’ll realise how madly in love with him she really is. While they are on this trip, everything gets messed up and it turns out that both Teo and Clarice are quite eccentric in their ways of dealing with each other.
This book has left me really conflicted. On the one hand, I couldn’t wait to find out what the characters would do next, but at the same time, I felt like it was drama for the sake of drama. A lot of readers find dark humour in this book, but that completely passed me by and I never found it really funny. I get the irony of someone saying what a perfect boyfriend should do and then doing the most horrendous things to a girl because he thinks that’s the thing to do, but the actions were so dark that it was impossible to laugh about. Yet, I kept reading and finished this book in two days.
The writing draws you in and Teo is so fascinating in his thought process that it was hard to get out of his head, but there are so many gimmicks in the plot that it didn’t feel as organic as Gone Girl. While the twists there were unexpected, yet completely natural, the twists here were just too many towards the end and I couldn’t help but feel certain events were just put in there to shock readers.
Is Perfect Days a compelling read? Definitely. Does it set a dangerous trends of book being written just for the shock value? Definitely. In the end, it really depends on what kind of reader you are whether you’ll love this book, hate it, or feel as conflicted as I did.