Review: Tampa by Alissa Nutting

tampaPublished by Ecco
Released July 2, 2013
272 pages
Where I got it: ARC received from publisher
Rating: ★★★★★

Description (from Goodreads):

Celeste Price is an eighth-grade English teacher in suburban Tampa. She’s undeniably attractive. She drives a red Corvette with tinted windows. Her husband, Ford, is rich, square-jawed, and devoted to her.

But Celeste’s devotion lies elsewhere. She has a singular sexual obsession—fourteen-year-old boys. Celeste pursues her craving with sociopathic meticulousness and forethought; her sole purpose in becoming a teacher is to fulfill her passion and provide her access to her compulsion. As the novel opens, fall semester at Jefferson Jr. High is beginning.

In mere weeks, Celeste has chosen and lured the lusciously naive Jack Patrick into her web. Jack is enthralled and in awe of his teacher, and, most important, willing to accept Celeste’s terms for a secret relationship—car rides after school; rendezvous at Jack’s house while his single father works late; body-slamming encounters in Celeste’s empty classroom between periods.

Ever mindful of the danger—the perpetual risk of exposure, Jack’s father’s own attraction to her, and the ticking clock as Jack leaves innocent boyhood behind—the hyperbolically insatiable Celeste bypasses each hurdle with swift thinking and shameless determination, even when the solutions involve greater misdeeds than the affair itself. In slaking her sexual thirst, Celeste Price is remorseless and deviously free of hesitation, a monstress driven by pure motivation. She deceives everyone, and cares nothing for anyone or anything but her own pleasure.

When I first heard about Tampa, I knew I absolutely had to read it. I stay away from erotica and romance fiction, but I love a good, dark story involving psychopaths. Despite the explicit sex throughout the novel (there’s a ton of it), I was totally enthralled by the story. Don’t get me wrong: I felt a bit unclean just by reading this book. Especially because I was usually reading it on a very crowded train, and started to feel like everyone around me could read my mind and tell what I just read.

Celeste is a fascinating character, and it was an eye-opening experience to live in her head during these pages. She really has only one goal in life: to have sexual encounters with fourteen-year-old boys. Every move she makes in her life is carefully planned and executed toward this goal. For a woman driven by her passions, she’s very methodical and calculating. She’s also a monster. She knows full well that what she is doing will probably greatly damage the boys, and this adds to her satisfaction. Celeste is a true predator: she’s beautiful, but cunning and ruthless, singling out the weakest boy from the crowd to take advantage of him.

I was really impressed with Nutting’s writing. It’s the kind of prose that really pops and hooks the reader. I would have run out of words to describe the sex acts, but Nutting’s vocabulary for that sort of thing runs deep. She never lets it get sexy, though. Really, the book walks that fine line of out and out condemnation of Celeste and making Celeste’s exploits seem attractive.

I want to recommend Tampa to my friends, because I think it’s a really strong book. I just don’t feel like I can though, except in the vaguest terms. I don’t want to tell my mom, “Hey, you should read this book, it’s really good,” and then have her know what I myself just read. But you, faceless readers of this review, you should read this. But only if you can handle page after page of statutory rape. If not, you should probably skip this one.

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One Response to Review: Tampa by Alissa Nutting

  1. Shelleyrae says:

    I know what you mean, I think this is a book that should be read even though it is grossly discomfiting. I enjoyed your review

    Shelleyrae @ Book’d Out

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