You by Caroline Kepnes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Thriller
Publishing Info: Kindle Edition, Published September 2014 by Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Star Rating: 4/5
Back Cover Summary:
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.
A terrifying exploration of how vulnerable we all are to stalking and manipulation, debut author Caroline Kepnes delivers a razor-sharp novel for our hyper-connected digital age. You is a compulsively readable page-turner that’s being compared to Gone Girl, American Psycho, and Stephen King’s Misery.
You is at once an incredibly unique, interesting, disturbing and gripping contemporary suspense novel. It isn’t exactly a romance, as the nature of Joe’s obsession over Beck makes it too unnerving to be classified so. It is the only book I have ever read that is written entirely in second person. At first, it felt a little odd to read, but it is written so well that after a while it feels natural, and I felt it wouldn’t have worked so well if it had been written in any other way. In many ways the book reminds me of The Collector by John Fowles, but Kepnes definitely puts those ideas of obsession into a contemporary novel with new verve.
When Beck walks into the bookshop where Joe works he is instantly captivated by her. He stalks her, falls in love with her, and ensures that their paths cross again. The novel tells the story of how Joe’s feelings develop, how their relationship changes, and how he would do anything to get her, and keep her.
Joe is a very interesting protagonist. He is very much an unreliable narrator and it is both interesting and disconcerting to see the world through his eyes. Without giving away any spoilers, partly what makes him that way is how he is so in love with Beck, but shows a complete lack of emotion and compassion in some of the acts he carries out. He shows many characteristics of a psychopath, and although it doesn’t state he is one, I am pretty sure he must be. I like how Beck, the ‘love interest’, isn’t perfect. She has many flaws and is a very realistic character. So it was a nice change to read about imperfect characters, as so many books these days are all about how wonderful love is and happy endings. You, on the other hand, shows the destructive nature of love and moves away from idealised storylines.
For the most part, the novel kept me hooked, although towards the middle I did begin to get a little tired of it, just for a few chapters. There were plenty of unexpected turns, both in the plot and in Joe’s emotional state. Although, there were a lot of pop culture references, of which most people wouldn’t understand all of them.
However, it could have been better. It is by no means a perfect, five star book. The idea has been done before, and although it was written in a fresh and interesting way, I felt Kepnes could have twisted the plot a bit more. I would have liked her to have shaken things up just a bit more.
This is by no means a book that everyone will enjoy. Some will absolutely hate it. But I found myself liking it. There is something interesting in the way it is so creepy, something that really grabbed my attention and intrigued me. If you’re interested in psychology then you would probably like this. If you are after a romance story, this is not the book for you.