I’ll be honest and say that I probably wouldn’t have picked this book up if it weren’t for Janel’s (Keeper of Pages) Criminally Good Book Club – whilst I quite liked the sound of it, I’d seen mixed reviews for it suggesting that it was going to be hit or miss. Unfortunately for me, it fell into the latter camp.
Teo doesn’t really like people, although he’s become used to faking emotions for the people around him, having learnt at an early age that people expect him to act and react in certain ways.
At a barbecue that he doesn’t want to attend, he meets Clarice, and he just knows that they should be together, despite her being his polar opposite and her bad habits such as smoking (he doesn’t) and eating meat (he’s a vegetarian).
After a brief period of stalking, he confesses his feelings for her, and is disappointed that she doesn’t feel the same way and isn’t interested in going on a date with him. Clarice is writing a screen play, and intends to seek out an isolated hotel where she can write without distraction.
Her plans go awry when Teo kidnaps her, however, and, taking her to the hotel, holds her prisoner. Lying to their parents and the hotel staff, Teo is sure that if they could just spend some time together, if she gets to know him better, then she’s bound to feel the same way that he does. Right?
Perfect Days is a short novel, and one that is very quick to read – I got through it in a single, lazy evening. It’s the sort of thing that you might pick up for a holiday – it’s not particularly complicated, and the Brazilian setting gives it an exotic air.
I found the writing to be quite straightforward, occasionally bordering on simplistic, and this grated a little. Again, this might suit a holiday read, but the writing style wasn’t really to my taste. That said, this is a novel in translation, and it maybe be that something was lost during that part of the process. There are some wonderful snatches of dark humour throughout, however, and I did give the occasional smirk as I was reading.
The novel is told from the perspective of Teo, and it is clear right from the beginning when he claims friendship with the corpse in his anatomy class that there’s something not quite right about him. I think that there are some characters who are presented as the bad guy that you’re meant to secretly root for, and I’m not sure if Teo is one such character. Whether this was intended or not, I didn’t root for him – he exhibits psychopathic behaviour from the beginning, and this novel gets pretty dark as he resorts to increasingly desperate measures to keep Clarice with him.
Whilst I didn’t like Teo, I also didn’t particularly like Clarice, and I wasn’t particularly bothered about the outcome for her. That said, I did like the twist at the end of the novel – I thought it was both clever and unexpected, and I do like to be surprised in this way.
Perfect Days is an unusual novel, and might be worth a look if you’re looking for a quick read that offers something a little different.