Title: You (You, #1)
Author: Caroline Kepnes
Published: September 30th 2014 by Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Genres: Thriller, Adult
When a beautiful, aspiring writer strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe Goldberg works, he does what anyone would do: he Googles the name on her credit card.
There is only one Guinevere Beck in New York City. She has a public Facebook account and Tweets incessantly, telling Joe everything he needs to know: she is simply Beck to her friends, she went to Brown University, she lives on Bank Street, and she’ll be at a bar in Brooklyn tonight—the perfect place for a “chance” meeting.
As Joe invisibly and obsessively takes control of Beck’s life, he orchestrates a series of events to ensure Beck finds herself in his waiting arms. Moving from stalker to boyfriend, Joe transforms himself into Beck’s perfect man, all while quietly removing the obstacles that stand in their way—even if it means murder.
My Rating: 4/5 stars
This book was such a wild ride. Seriously, “wild ride” was the only thing I could think of when I finished You. I couldn’t even discern whether I meant that as a good thing or not. It was just wild. As you can see on my Goodreads ‘review’ that I wrote in a frenzied state a good 30 seconds after I finished the book:
Honestly, rating this book was pretty difficult for me. It gives you a lot to think about. It was kind of like I was on this moral scale. On the one hand, it was really good. I loved the way each character was written, which I’ll get to later, but on the other hand, this book was told through the perspective of a stalker (who doesn’t believe he’s a stalker) who does some pretty shady and horrible things which I feel like I should not have enjoyed as much as I did. I thought, Does me really liking this book say more about me than the book itself? After thinking about it, I figured: who cares? The moral of this story is that You is a great book and I overthink things a lot. Moving on.
The story unfolds through Joe, the main character’s, eyes, and it’s written in the second-person as he addressees the girl he likes as “you”, which made the book so much more immersive and chilling. Joe is, essentially, the villain. He’s a stalker, he will kill someone if they get in his way, and he’s just overall a pretty garbage human being. But he doesn’t know he’s the villain. He doesn’t do the terrible things he does to derive any kind of sadistic pleasure, he does it to date a girl. People have to jump over certain hurdles to get to love, and Joe takes his hurdles a little more seriously than everyone else. Does your love interest pine over an ex-boyfriend? Easy fix, just do what Joe does. Set up a fake meeting with the ex, kidnap them, and hack into their Twitter account, tweeting horrible things until said love interest is over them. Problem solved.
I should not have liked Joe. There are many red flags in this book. If the previous example wasn’t enough for you, he also steal things from his love interest, Beck’s, room and stores them in a hole in his apartment wall. But, with the book being told from Joe’s point of view, he justified everything he did. I listened to the audiobook (which, fun fact, was narrated by the Santino Fontana, aka the guy who voiced Prince Hans in Frozen. Just add that to the pile of what makes this books so creepy) and sometimes he would be doing something wrong and I wouldn’t notice until like halfway through.
He treats the things he does as no big deal, like his actions are necessary chores he has to get through. And he doesn’t want to do them. He blames Beck a lot of the time, saying she’s careless and he has to clean up after her. Writing this review now, I’m going over all of Joe’s actions and just wondering why he didn’t creep me out more, but this book puts you in a kind of stupor. You’re not aware of the extremes that Joe goes to until you think about it afterwards, which is fascinating. I applaud Caroline Kepnes’ writing for twisting my mind like that.
Furthermore, I really liked how Kepnes wrote her other characters as well. I didn’t love all of the characters; in fact, I don’t think I loved anyone. Each character had glaring flaws and were messed up in their own ways and when you put all of them together, with Joe in the center, their interactions become pure chaos. Beck is extremely pretentious, her friends insult her mercilessly, and Joe is able to degrade and tear apart any other person who so much as looks at Beck. But the characters have a certain lovable quirk that always seems to appear just at the right time, right before you throw the book in frustration. They never fail to pull you back in.
My only main complaint is the graphic-ness of it all, which is not even a real word. I know this can’t really be filed as a complaint since some people love this stuff: violence, gore, erotica, etc., etc., but I never read a book that was so heavy with all of these themes. This book is very adult. It never really let up either. I honestly never thought this would be a problem for me, as it never was in the past, but this book is all uncensored, all the time. It was too much for me at certain times. I felt like I had to clear my mind and go outside and do breathing exercises or something. Or take a shower. Or pet a dog. Or watch a Disney movie. (BUT NOT FROZEN, OH GOD)
tl;dr: This book is so well-written and the plot flows seamlessly. Told in the second-person perspective of a creepy but lovable stalker addressing his love interest, it twists your mind and makes you forget what’s good and what’s bad. It’s an experience like no other, and I definitely recommend it. (ESPECIALLY the ending. Totally worth it.) But, just as a warning, it’s extremely graphic. 4/5 stars
AAAHHH, once again I write a review that’s way too long. But what did you guys think about this book, if you read it? If you haven’t read it, do you want to? How did you feel about Joe? Did you like Beck? (I personally hated her lol). Let me know!