*I received a complimentary copy of this book, and I’m leaving a voluntary review*
(Note: I never deliberately spoil anything that I consider a major part of the plot, and I always double check to see how much is revealed in the official blurb to know what major things are already revealed and not. However, there might be minor things that certain people could consider spoilers, so read on at your own risk.)
Where in the world do I start? The author warned me that the book was controversial. I’m glad he did.
The plot in short? A private investigator, Phil Allman, falls on love with a sixtewn year old he meets online. Yes. Controversial.
The longer version? Phil comes across Marci Downes on youtube, and proceeds, against his better judgment to leave her a comment. She replies, and off we go. Phil is lovestruck. What started with online chatting eventually becomes a face-to-face meeting as Phil travels across USA to meet Marci. She falls in love with as well. They become somewhat of a couple, and eventually get married.
I’ll say it first. Pedophile much? I wanted to put the book down many many times, but I’ve never not finished a book before and this wasn’t going to be the first time. After a while Phil grew on me. It became clear that he wasn’t (that much of) a creep, he just wanted Marci well. He never meant to fall in love her, he never wanted to be the forty something guy who married a teenager. But it happened. And he’s not a bad guy.
I really liked the story telling. It’s first person from Phil’s perspective, but he breaks the fourth wall to reference things in the real world, like Elvis, George Foreman, The Beatles, and a variety of celebrities. He often told med to turn to Google if I didn’t know what he was talking about. I’m sure there’s a technical writing term for all of this but I can’t think of it right now. (If you know what I mean let me know in the comments!) Basically, it’s like reading an episode of House of Cards. In the beginning I didn’t like it because I didn’t quite get it, but when I understood what was going on I loved it.
The book, despite it’s underlying theme of borderline pedophilia, is quite funny. It’s sarcastic and ironic, (often in reference to older men looking at Phil’s young wife), and I really enjoyed it. I often found myself laughing out loud. One of my favourite lines was “I would have cried, if not for the testosterone.”
I’ve never before realized how difficult it is to read about good people doing bad things. Reading about psycopathic murderers is easy because they’re so incredibly evil through and through. But Phil Allman is a good guy. (Or so he claims, and so it seems). But he keeps doing bad things, making bad choices. Not really evil things, but bad enough. For example, he knows he shouldn’t see Marci, and the reader is there, rooting for him to make the right call, to do the right thing. But he’s never able. And it’s a very facinating person to read about.
When I review I often try to compare things to other books, series or films, so we all can have a similar reference in mind, and so people who love said thing can better come to understand what the thing I’m reviewing is like. But with this book I can’t say I have anything to compare it to. The only thing that comes close, is maybe Californication with David Duchovny. The way he makes poor life choices (constantly), reminded me of this book.
All in all, a great book, however controversial it may be or not. I wouldn’t recommend reading it poolside in Spain, but if you’re gripped by darker stories that show you how bad good men can be, give this a try.