You by Caroline Kepnes
Ok, this book was very, very disturbing. Told from the point of view of a sociopath, murderer, stalker boyfriend, I truly didn’t expect to be unable to put this book down. It was billed as Gone Girl meets Fatal Attraction and I can say, yes, it is just like that, and then some. Gritty, horrifying, twisted… terribly readable. You by Caroline Kepnes is a daring, scary thriller that will have you up all night reading.
It’s New York City and a girl walks into a bookshop… and straight into the arms of a psycho. Joe seems mild mannered, sweet, attentive. In truth he is a stalker and a murderer who has a sudden and intense fixation on Beck. Joe stalks her, saves her life, sweeps in as a perfect, perfect boyfriend – all the while pulling a tight web of lies and murder in order to secure Beck as solely his. Beck meanwhile is a bit of a manic pixie dream girl, an aspiring writer from a rich family. She is a talented, tortured, exhibitionist, selfish young lady who strings people along. As creepy and sick as Joe is, I spent a good part of the book waiting to find out if Beck had a truly dark side to her or if she was just narcissistic and self-obsessed. Joe starts by stealing her phone, gaining access to all parts of her life so he can exploit, manipulate and twist until she falls in love with him. However, Beck is a girl surrounded by people (who, because of her Manic Pixie Dream Girl status, are all hopelessly in love with her) and Joe will stop at nothing to remove the competition. Drawn deeper into a complicated spiral of murder and deceit, it is only a matter of time before everything snaps.
I’m in two minds after reading You. I couldn’t put it down, but I still didn’t love it. In fact half of the book’s content totally squicked me out and I think I’ll be spending the next 3 weeks trying to get it out of my brain!! Eye bleach, please.
Kepnes writing is truly on point because I managed to keep reading to the end in spite of the pretty sick actions and depraved minds of four extremely unlikable characters. She has an amazing voice and there are so many pop culture in-jokes and references that make it a truly dynamic read. It also makes interesting food for thought on today’s social media landscape and the habit of oversharing, as Beck has her entire life on display on Facebook and Twitter, allowing Joe to follow her every move with ease and wind up standing outside her apartment building at 2am with binoculars.
However, the writing is kind of like throwing a Persian rug over an acid burn on the floor. Looks pretty but doesn’t quite hide the mess. You is not a pleasant book in any sense and I would not actually recommend it outside of this review. Sex, violence, misogyny, lust, drugs and gore are all brought to the extreme, the ending is a horrifying nightmare end to a nightmare ride. Coming after so many novels that try to excuse controlling, weird behavior as romantic (*cough Twilight/50 Shades of Grey cough*) I guess You tries to show (in extreme terms) just how horribly unromantic obsession and power can be. It’s definitely not a book for under 18s!!
While reading I couldn’t help but compare this book to The Book of You, by Claire Kendall, only told from the stalker’s side. It had the same tightly woven plot and voice that keeps you reading, even though your blood has run ice cold. (You can read Jen’s Review of The Book of You here)
You may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you need a thriller that is a level up in the horror/shock/stalker theme, then give it a try. But as a small aside, this book is really graphic in it’s descriptions of violence, sex and murder so please be warned if that’s not your thing!!
You will be available in-store and online September 30th 2014.