Sparkling water fanatic. Lover of random crap. Goodreads member curious to see if the grass really is greener on the other side.
WARNING : brain-bleach-inducing (not graphic) image ahead.
Long ass-rambling incoming. I need about 20 people to read this book so they can discuss the WTF?-ness with me. Watch me discuss with myself the madness of this book, as I try not to strain my own brain with the wtf-ery of it all. Yes, there will be some spoilers (however, the ending will not be revealed). I can't break this book down without them. Read ahead at your own risk.
Just when I'm ready to pull the trigger and 1 star Perillegal, I start thinking about it all over again. I could complain about several things which were so completely wrong about the story, but one thing I can't argue is the fact that I could NOT stop reading. I was sucked into this vacuum and couldn't get out.
So, I'm going to refrain from rating because I can't figure out how to weigh entertainment value against all things frustratingly sick and twisted. I hated the idiocy and devaluing of the effect of rape trauma, yet I couldn't look away either.
Let's go back to the idiocy before I discuss what had me glued to the pages. What was up with the lead's "inner bigot voice?" Was she really snap-judging would-be rapists on appearance? I get that she was running through a list of stereotypes in her head while in a state of shock and probably didn't believe any of those stereotypes, but I didn't care what her perceptions or values were in that instance based on her experience - it just came across on my end as a needless internal dialogue which would make most readers feel insulted.
I've read a lot of books where Stockholm Syndrome is used as the means to cover for a sketchy relationship. While this book doesn't exactly have a kidnapping scenario, the bi-product of what was happening would fall under that same umbrella. I'm not sure I even minded how quickly the lead character let down some of her guard, no matter how unlikely her behavior would be for most people. Where the story fell off for me was that we skipped right over any sort of trust building and went right to attraction - TO A WOULD-BE RAPIST WHO COULDN'T BE SEEN. Under normal circumstances, the audience might cheer for a woman who falls for a man without knowing what he looks like (see : Hearts in Darkness). But the obstacles are doubled here when a person is a creeper with predatory fantasies and he might actually look like a creeper as well because she didn't know. How did she not envision someone who looked like a molester with a furry 'stache (never mind that she let him hold her so she knew he was lean and clean shaven)? Wouldn't that be the normal conclusion a brain would jump to? How long does a person need before the stalker stereotype fades into something less grotesque in their head?
Big Eww moment for me : I hated how the story of "stalker rapist" somehow turned into a story of Peter Pan flying into Wendy's window. Does no one remember creepy internet Peter Pan from a few years back?
But let's get back to where my brain pretended to ignore logic. I'm used to mind-fuck stories with anti-heroes. I don't even mind reading about characters who are fundamentally broken beyond the point of repair. Hell, I've even rooted for a few of them. Sometimes it's easier to put aside notions of things having to be right or wrong when the story is laid out in such a way where it forces you to either accept the situation or not - period. There is no pondering whether or not to agree - it's screwed up and things aren't changing. This is the point where you decide if you're going to upvote or downvote, based on if you care enough to embrace the characters, flaws and all.
For example, take a story like Comfort Food, where the lead is sick and deranged. There's no getting around it. You aren't expected to like him. The reader then gets to relax and decide whether or not to invest in the story itself because the entire point is to think about the story as a whole, not fall in love with the characters.
I "think" this might have been a better route for Perillegal. Instead, the author tried to go the way of a story like Captive in the Dark, where the character is also sick and deranged, but the reader sees that the character didn't choose to turn himself into the person he'd become, so there's a sliver of hope that the heroine could help him find a small ounce of humanity. We know the broken part of the male lead won't ever be fixed (in essence, a big part of him will always be monster), and the reader gets to choose whether or not to root for him IN SPITE OF that.
Unfortunately, in THIS book and with THIS character, the execution didn't quite work as well. We see a man with severe mental issues, yet we don't know how far gone he really is. His obsessive urges don't so much subside as they do shift direction and focus. Obsession is still obsession. I saw no reason to believe that "Peter" would ever be healthy or functioning. Would he get therapy? What made him able to guarantee that he wouldn't try to hurt the female again? Traumatized as Gules (the chick) was, could she live a life with him and know that he wouldn't flip a switch at some point? Who cares if he only threatened her with a ruler instead of a knife - this doesn't lessen him in my eyes as a threat because he still watched her through her window for a very long time prior to that and plotted to rape her, even if he didn't go through with it.
Now though...here's where I am torn... The book was unputdownable for me. I don't know why I couldn't stop reading, but I simply couldn't. I read the entire book in one late-night sitting.
The twist at the end was actually interesting. I did manage to figure it out ahead of time, but it took me a LOT longer than I'd expected, even though the clues were right there. The first few chapters and last few chapters were INTENSE in a very good way.
This author is a talented storyteller. I was engaged, even while I was cringing. The writing was better than expected for a self-pub book.
What I think should happen : A publisher needs to get a hold of this book and change a few things, and we might have something to work with. Scrap the Peter Pan angle, keep the stalking/observing to the workplace only. Have the "almost rape" be an impulse with no forethought - maybe he crawled into her window just to be near her and she perceived it as potential rape, when he really just wanted to have her notice him and speak to him for once. You'd still get the drama of her experiencing PTSD because she thought she was in danger, but the reader would feel sympathy for the male lead because it wasn't his intent. Then the side story of the other guy who was a threat would be even more scary.
So many parts of this book were off (and an insult to women who've been traumatized and raped), but when you look at the entire unit as a story, it becomes discussion-worthy on so many levels. I hated, yet was fascinated, by the entire thing. I woke up this morning and was still thinking about the story.
The experience was a brain-bending contradiction that I simply can't rate. In a strange way, I'm glad I read the book. In an even stranger way, I do want others to read it as well because I am curious to know what people will think, both the bad and the good (okay, so the bad and the bad).