Title: Perfect Days
Author: Raphael Montes
Genre: Suspense / Thriller
Perfect Days tells the story of a quiet, introverted medical student, Teo, who is in love with the free spirited Clarice–who he doesn’t know at all. Taking us into the mind of a psychopath, this story reveals the dangerous, one-sided relationship formed between two strangers, with Teo stopping at nothing to make sure Clarice is all his.
Bound to caring for his disabled mother, Teo grows tired of the monotony of his life and only finds comfort and enjoyment from spending time with his friend Gertrude, a cadaver that he works on in school. Then, he meets Clarice, a vibrant, outspoken, carefree film and media student who is his exact opposite.
In an attempt to win Clarice’s affections, Teo follows her all over Rio de Janeiro to her home, only to be rejected. Told through Teo’s perspective, the novel quickly takes off into its main plot when Teo kidnaps and drugs Clarice. His clear signs of being a psychopath are not only disturbing, but become the driving force of the novel’s most suspenseful moments.
After finding out Clarice has written a screenplay, called Perfect Days, about friends taking a road trip and falling in love, Teo devises a plan to use the screenplay as an instruction manual to win Clarice’s heart. An optimistic Teo and drugged, handcuffed Clarice set out on their own romantic getaway. As a person who is kidnapped and being held captive, Clarice’s character copes and fights Teo throughout the novel in a realistic way that allows the reader to empathize with her panic and pain.
Trying his best to keep them from being found by Clarice’s family and friends while also buying himself enough time to woo Clarice, Teo takes them all over Brazil, with each destination mimicking one that the characters in Clarice’s screenplay go to. The constant changing of setting and the novel’s quick pace keep up with Teo’s erratic behaviors and help build the increasing suspense over if Clarice will ever escape Teo’s grasp.
The strongest qualities of the novel are in its unpredictability; Teo’s careful consideration of his (and Clarice’s) every move combined with his mental instability that cause random outbursts of violence add the most to the novel’s thrill and suspense. However, with no mention of Teo’s past or childhood, the text leaves us high and dry as to whether his character’s psychopathic tendencies are triggered by nature or nurture, causing some of the novel’s events to feel a bit aimless.
Montes attempts to finish the novel off with a cliffhanger, but instead, Teo and Clarice’s relationship concludes in an equally uncomfortable and confusing way, leaving a few too many loose ends untied.
FIlled with suspense from page one, Perfect Days portrays the intentions, justifications and emotions (or lack thereof) of a psychopath in a way that will frighten readers more than any real actions that take place. Intense and unpredictable, this thriller will keep readers on-edge to the very last page. Raphael Montes creates disturbingly realistic characters that will make you think twice about the seemingly harmless, friendly faces around you.
Rating: 9 out of 10