Crazy Love You
Simon & Schuster AUS
Uncorrected proof copy courtesy of the publisher
From the outside, Ian Paine looks like a very successful comic book artist. He has a beautiful loft apartment in the Tribeca area of New York City. His comic book series, Fatboy & Priss has been a success and Ian is well received at events like Comic Con. He escaped his home town and the taunts of being the fat outcast loser. He’s lost the weight, his skin has cleared up.
But dig a little deeper and Ian is still a mess. He drinks too much. He’s dabbled in too many recreational and illegal prescription drugs. He’s never really had a successful relationship. The one constant in Ian’s life has been Priss, the young girl he met out in the woods behind his house. Now a beautiful, stunning woman, Priss is the other half in his Fatboy & Priss comic. She’s Fatboy’s most valiant defender, always coming to his aid when he’s too shy and clueless to stand up for himself.
Then Ian meets Megan, a generous and kind-hearted woman who is a nanny to a little boy. Megan is from an comfortable, affluent background although she’s known pressure and pain in her life as well. Despite the fact that Ian clearly exhibits some problems, Megan chooses him and soon they are planning a life together. But that leaves Priss on the outer and soon….bad things begin to happen.
Last year I read Lisa Unger’s In The Blood and was a huge fan. I absolutely loved that book, it hooked me in utterly and kept me there and the ending was amazing. When this turned up on my doorstep a little while ago I was so excited to read it. But sometimes, the problem is when your first book by an author is amazing it’s a little hard for subsequent books to live up to it. And unfortunately, that happened with me and Crazy Love You.
The beginning was promising. We are introduced to Ian after it has all gone wrong with Megan and he has returned back to his family home in The Hollows and then begins to piece his life together for the reader. His childhood was somewhat idyllic for the first 9 years of his life spending time doing crafts with his artistic mother. Then his younger sister was born and it all began to unravel. It was around this time that Ian first met Priss, a young girl he always saw out in the woods. Ian at the time was perhaps too young to understand that some of the things about Priss were unusual: she didn’t go to school, she never seemed to have any family, he didn’t even really know where she lived. But she was a companion, someone to play with and talk to. As Ian’s home life spiraled into chaos and his school life became more and more unbearable, Priss was a lifeline that he clung to. She was, in some ways, the person that Ian wanted to be, especially as they grew older. But then Priss begins acting out revenge on those that hurt Ian…and the trouble starts.
No one else believes that Priss exists. They think she’s a figment of Ian’s imagination, brought on by the trauma of what happened in his childhood and perhaps influenced by his mother and her mental instability, something that might run in the family. You can’t charge an imaginary friend with a crime and so when bad things happen, the police turn to Ian. He’s adamant he didn’t do what he’s been accused of and at first, there’s little evidence to prove that he did.
The book switches back and forth in time between lots of different periods: Ian as a child, as a teen, when he meets Megan, during their relationship and also afterward. So far, so good. I was really enjoying the story, I was forming my own theories on Priss and why no one else had ever seen her, why Ian had these moments. But then, the more I found out about Priss, it seemed like the more the gloss came off the story. I had to stretch my imagination perhaps further than I’m particularly comfortable with to accept what was being told to me and I’m just not sure it was really something that I found to be convincing. Some of the ideas were interesting in that it seemed that Ian’s neediness and inability to let go were what continued to be the catalyst for Priss and her actions but there was really a lot that was happening with Ian that I felt he was getting away with scot-free. It seemed like Ian needed a lot of things and I wasn’t really sure whether or not he was going to get them, in terms of help and stability.
Whilst I enjoyed most of the early set up of this book, there’s no denying that I felt let down by the end. The suspense was built quite nicely and I enjoyed the correlation with the Fatboy & Priss issues (volumes? installments? I’m not a comic book reader, can you tell?). But a lot of it felt lacking to me, I couldn’t really connect with the idea of Priss. To be honest she mostly seemed like a giant pain although I think I can understand why Ian had been vulnerable to her and how he’d managed to form that bond. But the stuff that was happening I found really hard to accept. Ian’s behaviour was troubling at best, psychotic at worst. This was just okay for me.
Book #31 of 2015