Friday 8 February 2019

LOOKER by Laura Sims

Have you ever wanted to steal someone else's life? 

The Professor lives in Brooklyn; her partner Nathan left her when she couldn't have a baby. All she has now is her dead-end teaching job, her ramshackle apartment, and Nathan's old moggy, Cat. Who she doesn't even like. 

 The Actress lives a few doors down. She's famous and beautiful, with auburn hair, perfect skin, a lovely smile. She's got children - a baby, even. And a husband who seems to adore her. She leaves her windows open, even at night. 

 There's no harm, the Professor thinks, in looking in through the illuminated glass at that shiny, happy family, fantasizing about them, drawing ever closer to the actress herself. Or is there?

This is a book I found intriguing as soon as I read the blurb. On the surface it's a stalker story, but it doesn't take long to realise it's about SO much more. 

The Professor's life is falling apart. Her husband left her because not being able to fall pregnant put a huge strain on their relationship. She lives alone with a cat she doesn't like. The only thing she's got left is her teaching job, but even that's starting to get on her nerves.

Lucky for her, she lives vicariously through the happy and full life of an actress who lives in her street. She watches her neighbour's family life from a distance, and spends hours watching her movies. Hell, she even takes anything the actress discards.

But her life is falling apart, and she stands to lose everything...

Okay. This book is something. A totally messed up something, that's for sure.

It's also a short and fast read. There aren't any chapters, just small sections stitched together. We don't even find out what the main character's name is.

Still, it's written in a unique style that made for easy reading bursts. The only problem is the main character. She's so awful and her state of mind is so screwed up, that it's best to take small doses. There's so much one can take of an obviously delusional woman who is obsessed with so much it doesn't take long to realise she's full of herself, can't read people, is self-absorbed and totally delusional.

She's an obsessive, compulsive liar.

The Professor is obsessed with not being able to have children (although she clearly doesn't like kids). She's obsessed with the husband who left her (even though she despises him). She's obsessed with the cat she hates (and only keeps her because her husband wants her back). She's obsessed with imagining everyone likes her (when hardly anyone takes notice of her). But most of all, she's obsessed with the actress she so blatantly stalks.

I was expecting a psychological thriller, and instead found this to be the story of a hateful character. A story told by an unreliable narrator who lies too much, makes up whatever she wants to fill in the blanks, and is so prone to delusions that it doesn't take long to figure out she's full of crap.

The more I read, the less I believed about why her marriage fell apart. And I certainly didn't trust a single thing she said. Most of the time it felt like the opposite of whatever she was saying was actually happening. 

It's really hard to sympathise with someone so awful. Like I said, I didn't believe a damn thing she said, saw right through her, and kept reading because I really wanted her to get caught out. Instead of rooting for her, I wished for her demise so badly the ending wasn't enough. Not after what she did to Cat. Not after the wild stalker fantasies. And certainly not after her bad behaviour.

Looker is a very disturbing story about a lonely woman who feels abandoned by the man she loved, and can't deal with her infertility. Her bizarre ways lead her down a path of self-hatred filled with madness, and can only reach a disturbing end.

If you're looking for a thriller full of twists and turns, you shouldn't expect it here. But if you enjoy totally messed up unreliable narrators with bad intentions and a whole lot of bullshit, this is definitely something you might want to check out.

Looker, January 2019, ISBN 9781472258816, Tinder Press

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