Monday, February 9, 2015

Crazy Love You ~ Lisa Unger (earc) review [@lisaunger @TouchstoneBooks]

Crazy Love You
February 10, 2015
352 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from TBDor Amazon

No one writes "good scary fun" (The Washington Post) better than New York Times bestselling master of psychological suspense Lisa Unger. With more than 1.9 million books sold in more than thirty countries, it's clear why USA TODAY declared that her thrillers "should be on everyone's to-read list."

Love hurts … Sometimes it even kills.

Darkness has a way of creeping up when Ian is with Priss. Even when they were kids, playing in the woods of their small Upstate New York town, he could feel it. Still, Priss was his best friend, his salvation from the bullies who called him “loser” and “fatboy”…and from his family’s deadly secrets.

Now that they’ve both escaped to New York City, Ian no longer inhabits the tortured shell of his childhood. He is a talented and successful graphic novelist, and Priss…Priss is still trouble. The booze, the drugs, the sex—Ian is growing tired of late nights together trying to keep the past at bay. Especially now that he’s met sweet, beautiful Megan, whose love makes him want to change for the better. But Priss doesn’t like change. Change makes her angry. And when Priss is angry, terrible things begin to happen…

Lisa Unger's Crazy Love You does what really good psychological thrillers do: it makes you question what is real, what is imagined and what might be somewhere between the two.

As successful graphic novelist, Ian Paine makes fiction out of the very real bullying he suffered in his childhood and teen years. His series Fatboy and Priss somewhat based on his own life. As a boy Ian was friendless until Priss found him.

Now older and both living in New York, Ian is trying to forget. Already dealing with anger, substance issues, and addiction, after traumatic events, Priss doesn't seem to be helping.  She seems able to show up just when he most needs someone - even if it's not someone offering what Priss is.

It's all been a satisfactory life for Ian so far. His book series, the drinking, the drugs and sex with Priss. But when he meets Megan, a nice girl, not into drugs or drinking until you blackout, things change. Priss and what she provides may not be enough for Ian, may no longer be right.

Priss isn't one to go quietly, though.

In Crazy Love You, the majority of the story takes place in the present day, with an adult Ian living in New York, but we get flashbacks of his childhood, of him life in The Hollows. We hear of some of the bullying that scarred him, but mostly we see his family life, his friendship with Priss.

The more of Ian - and Priss's - past we become privy to and the more his character attempts to improve in the present, to leave behind the destructive behaviors, the more questions there are.  Other than Ian's friend, his savior, the girl who inspired the comic character boys lust after, who really is Priss?

What dangers, what trouble is she to blame for? Or is it Ian at fault? Or both of them? Or neither?

Priss's origins, her impact on Ian's life, just how deeply the past has affected him and if he can really have that normal, functioning relationship and life her craves are all things readers will wonder. When things seem to be becoming clear, something else will call things into question or make you wonder if that can really be the truth.

Ian's occupation as a graphic novelist works really well in Crazy Love You. It allows him the independence needed for the story, for the mystery, while also giving him an outlet for his past traumas. It's through his Fatboy and Priss series, those characters and that story, that we learn about much of Ian's past - and his relationship with Priss. As the fictional world seems to be bleeding into the real world, the mystery intensifies.

Crazy Love You has interesting, complex and intriguing characters and a story that will keep readers guessing. This was the first Lisa Unger title I've read, but I don't plan for it to be the last.

review copy received from publisher, though NetGalley

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